ABC7 News gets closer look at America's Cup catamarans

May 24, 2013 10:58:18 PM PDT
Some changes could be coming to the upcoming America's Cup Race and on Friday, ABC7 News got a closer look at one of the 72-foot catamarans that will be participating in the race.

You may have seen catamarans fly a hull, but during practice, Emirates Team New Zealand can get both hulls out of the water. For just a moment Friday, in a little over 12-knot breeze, the boat was riding on its hydrofoil.

At higher wind speeds, the New Zealand boat can foil downwind giving it a tremendous speed advantage. But on Friday, America's Cup organizers said that to make the racing safer, they're considering moving up the racing time from 1 p.m. to noon, when the winds are not as strong.

"I guess one of the tragedys for us, a little bit, in terms of the wind speed change, is that we've actually simulated those higher wind speeds in our training because that's what we were coming to," said New Zealand Teams Managing Director Grant Dalton. "So, we're having to give up quite a lot to go to a lower wind speed in terms of our training regime and what we've learned and our boat to a certain extent as well."

Friday was the first time ABC7 News got a good close-up of the safety gear the sailors are carrying including mini compressed air tanks that will give a sailor about a minutes worth of air should he be pinned under the boat.

Following the death of Artemis team member Andrew Simpson, safety recommendations include such gear. But New Zealand's helmsman says there has never been any doubt amongst the sailors -- they want to race the 72s.

"You push hard, you get rewarded for pushing hard, but there is an edge and you have to be very careful when you get close to that. So yeah, that's a lot of fun," said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker.

Team New Zealand practiced in relatively light winds for San Francisco Bay and the boat was up and out of the water riding on its hydrofoils at least some of the time. Barker says when the boat is up on her foil she's actually pretty stable.


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