Grant Dalton blogs on progress with the AC72 and reflects on the multihull story so far…
After three days sailing we’re starting to get the feel for the AC72 although we’re still somewhat in awe of what the team has created.
Today we had a good seven hours on the water with the breeze around 14-18 knots with puffs over 20. That was more breeze than we really wanted but we got more relaxed with every passing minute. See Chris Cameron’s pictures from today here.
It was a really good, productive day. As it wore on, we grew more confident and a lot less jumpy. We returned to the dock because we had completed the tasks for the day – not because the boat told us to. That’s always a bonus.
Less than two years ago the team’s experience with multihulls was almost zero. I had campaigned the 110ft Club Med around the world in The Race. That was in 2001 – and we won.
So I had good memories of cats, but the harbour racer that Oracle was proposing for the 34th America’s Cup had no relationship with Club Med which was built to race around the world.
A few of the sailing team had some limited encounters with cats.
I remember thinking that if we were to campaign a cat for the America’s Cup we were not starting from an ideal base.
That was in late 2010 and it now seems so long ago. The team had just won the season championship of the Med Cup for the second year in a row and we had ended the Louis Vuitton Trophy series winning four of the five regattas.
We were firmly in the monohull world. We knew the old AC monohulls, which made their debut in 1992, like the back of our hands. We knew how to design them, build them and make them very reliable. And the boys knew how to sail them well.
But cats? That was rather different. Soon after Oracle announced the cats were on, we held an in-house strategy meeting. It lasted all day. Its purpose was to get some direction on what we needed to do immediately to have a hope of mounting a successful challenge.
It all came down to finding people with experience in design, engineering and sailing catamarans who could be integrated into the Emirates Team New Zealand design team and work within the Emirates Team New Zealand culture.
By the end of that year, after a three-day design seminar, I could see the beginnings of a great multihull America’s Cup campaign.
Now with the AC72 on the water, that opinion stands. The commitment and focus shown by team members, the unwavering support of sponsors and suppliers, the expertise of the New Zealand marine industry … the team could not have asked for better.
A lot of people have worked long hours for more than 19 months to get to this point. A lot more work has to be done as we evaluate performance and learn about sailing the AC72even as prepare to start building the second one.
We’ve come along way in a short time. And we still have a long way to go.