Yes, it's almost a year before the actual America's Cup match. And, yes, there is a whole new generation of AC72 boats to come. But amidst all the glitches, setbacks, and catastrophes of Artemis and Oracle, and the late start of Luna Rossa, there is one team that just keeps sailing on, looking good, learning from its training, and getting better. And that team is Emirates Team New Zealand.
It was always going to be hard to get the AC72 right, because it is an entirely new beast. But just look at the clips of ETNZ's AC72 in action, and you appear to have a team that is opening up a noticeable gap in terms of design and boathandling.
The pics look good, too.
I mean, when have you seen any of the other AC72s looking this good?
Of course, the AC72 is a mind game, as well as a sailing game. And if there is anyone who knows how to intimidate and psyche out the competition it is ETNZ honcho Grant Dalton. But you have to have the goods to put out there if you want to make the other guys nervous about falling behind. And now ETNZ is following up these impressive images of their AC72 by announcing they have learned enough to put the boat in the shed for a turbo boost:
Emirates Team New Zealand is ratcheting up its AC72 sailing programme, moving on from primarily conducting reliability and system testing to a focus on racing and speed development.
The yacht will go into the shed for 10 days for, amongst other things, modifications that are designed to extract greater performance from the boat.
Grant Dalton says: “After 16 days on the water, we are comfortable with the boat and we can work on building speed by developing on-board systems and racing mechanics and giving the sailing crew time to develop communications and boat handling.
“The design department has collated and analysed a massive amount of data every time the 72 has sailed and has come up with some changes that we expect will improve performance.”
Talk about rubbing it in! I can only imagine what Larry, Russell, Jimmy, Paul, Terry (and now Loick) are thinking. Well played, ETNZ, well played.