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Busy weekend for AC launches

It was a busy weekend for AC launches . . . Emirates Team New Zealand unveiled its second AC72 on Monday at the team base in Auckland, at a low-key ceremony where the boat was named ‘New Zealand Aotearoa’. The team had hoped to launch the boat Monday as well, but the weather wasn’t co-operative with overcast, wet, and windy conditions.Oracle Team USA also hit the water on Monday in its ‘better than new’ AC72, named ’17'. After conducting load testing over the weekend, ’17' was launched on a grey morning in San Francisco, with the team hoping to sail later in the day as the skies began to clear.

This is the first of the two AC72 wing sail catamarans that Oracle Team USA will build. It has been in the shed for repairs since a spectacular capsize in mid-October. The team’s second AC72 is due to come on stream later in the spring.

Oracle Team General manager Grant Simmer says the design and build crews did more than just repair the old boat; this is an improved version of boat one, with several key modifications. “We’ve changed to wheel (from tiller) steering, that’s a big one,” he said, referring the bright red steering wheels that are placed at the back of the cockpit in each hull now.

“The fairing on the front beam has become more substantial than it was. We’ve revised a lot of the systems on the boat. We’ve got the next generation of boards in the boat, that was always planned, so we’re moving forward with that. And this is the second wing too. It has subtle developments throughout but the profile is fairly similar to the original one, so it looks quite similar.”

Simmer says the latest version of ’17' may show less twist in the platform, one of the characteristics that drew plenty of comment following the first sailing days.

“The amount that the platform racked (twisted) was a trade-off with weight and windage in the structure of the boat,” he explained. “That trade-off is still there. We’ve made some subtle changes that will reduce the racking, but again, it’s a design decision trading off windage and weight.”