Sunday, 24 April 2011
Artemis Racing training on their AC45. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/www.americascup.com
by Terry Hutchinson
We have been on the ground for four days in preparation for the AC45 test events next week here in Auckland. Not unlike the sailing team, this version of the America's Cup is taking on an entire new look. TV, jet ski umpires and onboard lighting systems are all becoming part of the new world. It is quite a bit different, but something that we need to embrace as sailors to take our sport to the next level.
The training has been going well. We are rotating crew to give the whole sailing team an opportunity to experience the AC45 and the wing in particular. Once we start racing the AC45 later in the year, the of the five person crew limit will cut a number of our guys out. The time now gives us the opportunity to expose all of sailors to the 'beast'. When I look at Julien and Mango and see their bruises and bumps, it only reaffirms what we already know. The boat is going to eat a lot of people. The trick to it really is trying to figure out how to sail consistently while recognizing that it may not always be pretty.
The first two days of training were in moderately fresh breezes of 12-25 knots. Good physical conditions were inevitably followed by the full bow bury to remind those of us onboard how close to the edge we are occasionally living. The hardest part thus far is developing the comfort level to send it. Like anything new, we are choosing the conservative option as to avoid the major show stopper of a capsize and wing damage. At pace that will create lots of carnage and we need to avoid it like the plague.
Our days have consisted of time and distance drills followed by laps. Two days ago was a great reminder of what quality people sail and work on Artemis Racing. I know every team feels a certain amount of bravado about "their team" but Artemis Racing is new. We are really in our infancy of the program and so we are still developing our "team identity" or culture.
We have a group of people committed to winning the America's Cup but the puzzle is scattered all over the floor at this point and we have the picture in front of us to know what it is supposed to look like and now starts the process of putting together the pieces.
On this particular day, Michele Ivaldi (who along with Kevin Hall shares navigating duties and operates the performance and instruments department) was our 6th man onboard. Michele oversees the instrumentation and data collecting and manages the communications back to our Coach Dog and Brookie on the chase boat.
As we were getting ready to start our lap I asked; "Mick, which way should we go?" His response was very quick, "We want to go right just like in Race 9". It took me all of about 1 second to know exactly what Michele was talking about. Race 9 of the Louis Vuitton Cup Final in 2000 in which Luna Rossa beat us onboard America One. As we jabbed back and forth to each other, I got a great chuckle at how things have gone full circle. For the last ten years we have been competitors, and I know looking across the life lines at the Artemis TP52 or the Cereef RC 44 that Mick is a great competitor. Now we are teammates at something that is quite new and different much like 2000 was for me. It was yet one more reminder of how much effort it is going to take to become efficient at racing a multihull well. I see the problems and solutions that Michele and the P&I team face every day and I can't help but think, "Man I am glad we are on the same team."
On deck for the next two days is more whipping, I mean boat-handling practice! We will take Easter Sunday off and then get back into it on Monday. Our test racing starts Tuesday. Should be good fun and it will be great to have a peak at our new game.
Standing by in Auckland.