The buzz around the AC45's maiden voyage on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland brought a number of internationally-renowned sailing aficionados to the dock where the high-tech wing-sailed catamaran returned after a short shakedown sail
Video of AC45 under sail for the first time on Auckland Harbour, 17th January 2011:
by Jane Eagleson
The test team completed the first sail and were back at the dock by noon in New Zealand before a tropical storm system began to move into the area. The early start afforded the team the chance to launch and sail before returning to the Viaduct base to tuck the boat platform and wing safely back into the shed. The rain came just moments after the shore operations were finished. With flat seas and 10 knots of breeze out of the northeast, the crew had near-perfect testing conditions, but some stormy weather is on the way so the next sailing session will be later in the week.
Here's what was heard from around harbour:
Harold Bennett (PRO 33rd AC)
“It’s an awesome looking boat. I saw it sailing, flying a hull almost immediately and it was pretty impressive. It will be great to see more of them trialling together soon; I reckon the future of the America’s Cup is looking good.”
Peter Lester (Americas’ Cup veteran and sailing TV commentator)
“It’s great to see the first one and it’ll be fantastic when we get a few of them sailing out on the harbour. What also really impresses me is the way the team behind it have really thought about the detailing – and getting it in and out of water efficiently."
Andy Hindley (America's Cup Race Management, COO)
"It was an unbelievable first sail. We were in 8-10 knots of breeze and we were sailing at more than double that speed .. .up to about 20 knots at one point.With a bit more breeze we could be going 28 – 30 knots.
"We were only sailing for a couple of minutes and flying the hull. It’s a great start. There’s a bit of work to do onshore now, but then we will get it back onto the water and sail it as often as we can."
Jimmy Spithill (AC45 Test Skipper and ORACLE RACING Skipper)
"It’s fantastic ...everyone at the dock is smiling. It’s an awesome tool and it’ll be a lot of fun.
"The wing’s big and the boat powers up quickly and is easy to sail and maneuverability is not a problem. Straight off the bat we were talking about going racing and how good it is going to be.
"We’ll have no problem having close racing. We were doing 20 knots at times.
"The wing sail is so much quicker to unload (depower) than a main – with the wing its instant. Teams will get up to speed quickly with these boats and they should be really happy with them.
"They are pushing the boundaries and there is a bit of risk in there and that’s what you need in the America’s Cup. I can’t wait to get back out on the water again in this boat.
"From a boat off a piece of paper to its first sail, it’s the most impressive I’ve ever seen. Within minutes we were flying a hull and fully loaded. We have the latest technology here with the wing and that’s what the America’s Cup is all about.”
AC45 Launch Video
AC45 Schematic: Almost Here Video