Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Yachting: Code whips Team NZ crewmen into action

If you were listening closely to the on-board action as Team New Zealand rounded the bottom mark in yesterday's opening race against Luna Rossa, you may have heard the call "Mr Whippy" ring out.

While the Kiwi boat was not really being put under pressure by the Italians at that point, it still hardly seemed the time to be discussing icecream. After all, as we saw in the opening race, in these super-fast hi-tech AC72 catamarans, one small lapse and the teams can find themselves in a spot of bother.

Fortunately, the Herald has discovered that wasn't the case at all - Mr Whippy is actually a codename for one of the crew's set moves.

Emirates Team NZ insiders have revealed the crew have recently recoded all their manoeuvres and have named the foil-tack, in which they round the bottom mark on foils and immediately tack away - a move they take great pride in - after the iconic icecream brand.

For now, the rest of Team NZ's codenames remain a closely guarded secret, but observers will be listening to the on-board microphones closely to see if they can unravel the strange Kiwi code.

There is a serious reasoning behind the quirky codenames given to Team NZ's moves. Apparently, when the crew are being pushed to their physical limits to execute the difficult manoeuvres, the code helps trigger them into action.

"When they are really going hammer-down and battling with it, referring to these moves as something a bit less serious tickles their fancy," said a source close to the team.

"But rest assured, they take their crew work very seriously - they've spent hours upon hours fine-tuning those manoeuvres."

It certainly showed on the race course yesterday, with commentators enthusing that Team NZ had executed two near-flawless races.

Skipper Dean Barker, however, shrugged off the suggestions.

"I don't think you can ever say any race is perfect."

For live race coverage and expert opinion from Paul Lewis and Dana Johannsen, log on to www.nzherald.co.nz/sport

- NZ Herald

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