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America's Cup Rialto: Team New Zealand capsize in strong winds

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 10 Oct 00:50 NZDT 10 October 2020
Te Aihe returns at high speed in a rain squall - Auckland - July 1, 2020 © Richard Gladwell / Sail-World.com

Emirates Team New Zealand capsized their AC75 Te Aihe when sailing in strong winds in Tamaki Strait, off the southern coast of Waiheke around 0930hrs this morning.

Conditions were beyond the wind limits for racing in the America's Cup, with the breeze being recorded at 19kts average gusting 25kts, at Passage Rock - believed to be an under-read for where Te Aihe was sailing. The boat was quickly righted and towed back to Auckland.

The capsize occurred in an early morning test session after the team launched at dawn - around 0630hrs and docked out at 0740hrs. The capsize incident occurred around 0900hrs, on the area designated as Course E for the America's Cup, and occurred during a high-speed run when the AC75 loaded up at high speed and just sailed under in what was described by the crew as a "high-speed plough", before capsizing.

Winds were forecast to be on the top end of the scale for sailing an AC75, and CEO Grant Dalton told Sail-World that they wanted to test what was possible in terms of top-end speed and to find out if there were any edges in extreme conditions for the AC75, ahead of the launch of their second AC75 and race boat.

The conditions and circumstances would have been well within the experience of helmsman Peter Burling, after his exploits, in much more severe conditions in the Southern Ocean during the 2018/19 Volvo Ocean Race where he was a helmsman aboard Dutch-flagged entry Brunel.

The AC75 suffered damage to a steering pedestal in the incident. Otherwise, Te Aihe would have continued training - as happened in their first capsize pre-Christmas when they trained for a further three hours after the incident.

Emirates Team NZ is the first team to have admitted to a double-capsize. They have previously admitted to a high-speed nosedive at around 50kts, after which the team again kept training.

US Challenger American Magic capsized in the same location a month ago. The other two challengers have been recorded in "near-miss" capsize incidents.

Unfortunately the capsize occurred beyond the range of Sail-World's long-range camera.

The Challengers are expected to begin launching their second AC75's later in October, with Emirates Team New Zealand expected to launch in November.

The first serious hit-out for all teams will occur in mid-December with the three day Christmas Cup or first and only event in the America's Cup World Series. Racing in the Prada Cup begins a month later in mid-January.

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