A narrower set of foils and potential ‘batwing’ mainsail won’t be the only new elements on Team New Zealand’s boat when they hit the water against Luna Rossa this week.
The Kiwis will race the Italian challengers in the America’s Cup match in a bid to retain the Auld Mug, starting Wednesday.
Having last raced in December’s World Series, Team NZ have had plenty of time to evolve their AC75 ‘Te Rehutai’.
And speaking on the Shirley Robertson Sailing Podcast, Team NZ coach Ray Davies revealed not even one component has stayed the same.
“All of the sails are new, they’ve all evolved, a couple of mainsails and six jibs are all new,” Davies said. “We’re onto a new mast … new rudder, new elevator, so pretty much everything has changed since we last sailed against the teams.”
As part of the changes that can be seen above the water, the ‘batwing’ concept provides drag high up on the mainsail and slows the boat when sailing upwind; making it a strong option to have for windy conditions.
The brand-new set of foils, meanwhile, are noticeably narrower than those used last year. The new piece of hardware also features a “blended-foil” bulb design – resembling the latest generation kite foils.
Without having been able to test the new setups in a proper match, Team NZ have been mostly using their chase boat as a training partner in practice.
But they’ve also kept a close eye on Luna Rossa and are confident they’ve clocked them.
“We have been learning from their racing,” said Davies. “We see their numbers, we hear their comms. It’s hugely valuable to see the sailing techniques.
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“Their performance has got better and better, they’re sailing the boat really well… they’re doing a great job in their communication and their match-racing skills are coming into their own now. They don’t seem to make many errors, so they’re just getting more refined.
“It’s going to be a real ding-dong battle, it’s going to be a spectacular event.”
As for Jimmy Spithill, Davies said he didn’t think the Luna Rossa skipper would offer anything unexpected in the best-of-13 race series.
“He is a fierce competitor, and he has a fantastic reputation in the Cup. He’s fierce and competitive, but he’s not random,” Davies said. “It will be accurate and disciplined. He will be calculated.
“They are going to be hard to beat for sure. It’s always move and counter move with match racing, you need to be able to react with split-second decisions to what the other boat is doing jockeying for position. Coming off the line even is a good start, you just don’t want to be behind.”
Meet the Team NZ crew
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