Team New Zealand’s AC40 has impressed new recruit Nathan Outteridge who was at the helm for the boat’s maiden sail in Auckland.
The AC40 is a scaled down version of the AC75 which was used in the last America’s Cup and will be used in the next two events.
The new class of boat, which has four crew, can be used by teams as a test platform for the bigger AC75 and will be used in preliminary regattas in Barcelona, as well as in the women’s and youth regattas.
Team New Zealand’s AC40 was the first off the production line earlier this month and the team took it sailing for the first time this week.
The highly-credentialed Outteridge signed on with Team New Zealand nearly a year ago as the team works towards their America’s Cup defence and he got his first experience of sailing a foiling monohull when Team New Zealand took the boat out in the waters between Waiheke Island and Howick Beachlands.
The nine-time world champion across different classes of boat proved to be a quick learner – taking a few minutes to go from a cautious displacement mode to popping the AC40 up onto its foils and off on starboard tack at over 20+ knots in the light 8-10 knots of breeze.
“It was an impressive boat to sail for my first time sailing this type of boat. A little unnerving when trying to build speed, but once you get a bit of speed and the foil engages it goes from about 10 knots to 20 knots in about 5 seconds. So both pretty impressive, the acceleration and the reliability,” Outteridge said.
Outteridge, Ray Davies, Nick Burridge and Sam Meech were onboard throughout the full day on the water, initially went through a selection of straight line runs before throwing down their first tack successfully staying up on the foils and carrying on upwind.
Davies was also impressed with day one on the water.
“An amazing team effort to go out there and pull off the first tack as a foiling tack, the first gybe a foiling gybe. The boat is going really well, we have a few tweaks for sure, but awesome to sail with Nath, Sam and Nick. All of the support guys have done an incredible job, out of the box and we were ripping around foiling,” he said.
In a relatively light breeze the AC40 reached a top speed of over 34 knots downwind and 27 knots upwind in the steady NW breeze.
Team New Zealand principal naval architect Bobby Kleinschmit put the AC40 into context of what it means in an America’s Cup campaign.
“The AC40 is an important boat for us and for all the teams because it’s a boat that most of our development is going to happen on. It’s great to be able to take all the work that we’ve done, everything that we’ve learned in designing the AC75 and put that all together into a package. It’s not just for us, it’s for the other teams and the Women and Youth AC. It’s really cool to see that expand into the greater sailing community.”
The AC40 in its one design configuration will be raced using auto pilot flight control in Women’s and Youth America’s Cup regattas and after watching it in action in Auckland Davies is confident that the boat is the right fit.
“It will be spectacular racing, super quick, super-efficient and all straight out of the box.”
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