New Zealand recover after breaking rudder

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  • Down but not out

  • Smooth sailing: Team New Zealand lead BAR at the weather mark in practice racing yesterday (Photograph by Talbot Wilson)

    Smooth sailing: Team New Zealand lead BAR at the weather mark in practice racing yesterday (Photograph by Talbot Wilson)


Emirates Team New Zealand broke a rudder again on Monday in a collision with what observers believed was a turtle.

According to a confidential source, Team New Zealand were sailing at 49kts in the southwest corner of the Great Sound when the collision occurred. That did not deter the Kiwis since they had a spare back at their Dockyard base. They popped back in and installed a new rudder and headed back out for more practice.

They sent a diver down where the mishap occurred yesterday and retrieved the elevator, the horizontal wing plate bolted on the end of the rudder which had been knocked off of the rudder stock with the impact. The elevator plate, like the foils on the daggerboard, provides lift and stability for the boats.

Observers speculated yesterday that New Zealand sailed with a spare or alternate pair again while the other was being repaired and re-faired.

Different rudders and even different-sized rudders can be built for different wind conditions as long as they fit within the specifications in the America’s Cup Class Rule. Each team have spare rudders, with no limit on the number except the team budget. According to Martin Fischer, of Groupama Team France, a rudder can cost up to 20,000 euros (about $22,000).

The rudder mishap did not seem to slow down Team New Zealand yesterday. They were back out on the practice course, sailing smooth and fast, easily foiling all the way around the course in a west-northwest eight-knot breeze. Except for the direction, this is the kind of wind expected for the Cup matches.

So, nine days from today, the real racing begins, qualifying matched to decide which four teams move into the playoffs for the knockout matches to decide which team will meet Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup Match. The roof is on the grandstand in the Cup village and all the festive America’s Cup flags are flying.

On the water, Oracle and Artemis Racing continued to impress. Team New Zealand who were really untested in practice matches so far did not race on Monday. Yesterday, they were easy winners in races against Land Rover BAR and Team France. Team New Zealand were ahead in both of those races from start to finish.

BAR did have a better day yesterday after looking pretty sticky on Monday, beating Team France in the first race of the day.

Rumours that surfaced last week about Oracle adapting limited peddle power to a grinding position behind their helmsman still have not been substantiated. Yesterday, there was not a peddle grinder working behind skipper Jimmy Spithill.

Practice racing continues through Friday this week. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of next week are also race practice days, but participation next week is certainly questionable. Teams may not want to risk damage in that final few days before real racing starts.

Matches on the first day will be Oracle v Team France, Artemis v SoftBank Team Japan, France v Team New Zealand and BAR v Artemis. The Village opens at 2pm. Matches start at 5pm, end at 7 and the opening ceremony is at 8.30.

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Published May 17, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated May 16, 2017 at 10:57 pm)

New Zealand recover after breaking rudder

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