Finding The Gremlins


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Straight line is fine but unfortunately the race has many tacks or turns where they have been second best and failed miserably.

The America's Prada Cup kicks off on the 15th January in Auckland ,New Zealand which is nearly 3 weeks away. This gives the challenging teams America, Italy and the UK enough time to iron out any issues with their boats.

What is interesting about this is the defending champions New Zealand due to the rules have some disadvantages. The other teams have 2 boats to practice with whilst they have only 1. The other teams can also practice and race against each other over the next 3 weeks giving them the chance to improve which New Zealand are not allowed to.

What has been interesting to hear is the Ineos UK team is though to have found their problems out which has lead them to having a disastrous start so far losing every race by some distance.

Sailing experts have noticed that the UK boat has a slightly different bow shape which in a straight line is the fastest boat in decent winds. When the wind is light the bow shape doesn't help the team getting it up onto the foils and why they have struggled.

To overcome this the angle of the foils or arms needs to be adjusted as the team up until now has been using more rudder angle to try and achieve this lift. Being fast in a straight line is great, but over a set course one has to tack and change direction and where the boat fails in it's set up.

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Splashdowns will cost you the race so maintaining lift has to happen at all costs.

These yachts are designed to sail with the hull out of the water creating less drag. Everyone is learning right now and what is noticeable is as soon as the hull is in the water all speed is lost letting competitors steal minutes in racing time.

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These yachts need wind as the foils are designed to work creating the lift.

What has been embarrassing is the ight winds have shown them up being lapped the other day by Team New Zealand, but thankfully both teams failed to complete the course within the 45 minute time limit.

The wind conditions should be vastly different come mid January so what we have seen so far could be turned on it's head. Every team still has a chance of winning the trophy as the races up until now have been more about learning what is right and what is wrong. These yachts are highly technical and keeping the hull out of the water is the key to winning.

The Mercedes team that has been working with UK Ineos for the past year have the fastest boat and will no doubt fix these minor, but very important issues. Computer simulation on yachts will be different to what they are used to with the cars on track as here they are dealing with two crucial elements being wind and water. The unknowns are being found out with a steep learning curve and it is all about foil angles according to wind strength.

This will be interesting to see the improvements by the 3 challenging teams as this is where New Zealand have a huge disadvantage by being defending champions.