Yachting: Pimped Team NZ ride makes waves

By Paul Lewis

It's got "spoilers" and a new bonnet.

Emirates Team New Zealand's AC72 catamaran had its first day on the water yesterday with the modifications that have kept it in the shed for the last few days.

With typical Kiwi humour, the changes were compared to Pimp My Ride, the US TV programme that takes a car in poor condition, soups it up and presents it in new paint, fittings and colours that often look best suited to, er, a pimp.

"We were going to paint flames on them," joked Team NZ boss Grant Dalton, gesturing at new black devices adorning the back of Aotearoa. In fact, they are not spoilers, which on cars force air currents down, aiding traction. The spoiler-like devices actually capture wind coming off the 40m wingsail.

"There is a bend in the flow (of the wind) because of the wing," said ETNZ technical director Nick Holroyd. "All we have done is to set up a pair of vanes which capture that flow more efficiently from the sail area. That can allow a certain amount of lift out of it and we can use that to drive the boat more."

The modification to the area forward of the wingsail allows the boat's bows to be pushed down slightly when travelling upwind, minimising lift. It also brings more performance out of the boat's jib.

The modifications are mostly directed at more upwind speed, adding to the suspicion that the battle upwind will be key in the coming finals match, which starts next Sunday (NZT).

There is only one upwind leg on the course but it takes almost 50 per cent of the race time (about 30 minutes) to complete. So superior performance on that leg can influence the result of the race - as Team NZ showed repeatedly against Luna Rossa in the Louis Vuitton finals.

The foredeck part of this aerodynamic adjustment is a copy of Oracle's set-up. "Yes, we saw Oracle with it about three weeks ago," said Holroyd. "They've copied enough off us over time so it's nice to get one back."

- Herald on Sunday

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