Takapuna pre-start testing

If Pete Burling and Nathan Outteridge thought they were going to have it easy sailing the LEQ12 AC40 against the one-design AC40, they were sorely mistaken. Josh Junior and Leonard Takahashi absolutely took the fight to the established AC75 helms in a thrilling afternoon of pre-start two-boat practice off Takapuna on the North Shore of Auckland that offers a real glimpse of what we can expect to see come the AC40 pre-regattas in Vilanova i La Geltrú and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia later on this year.

Entering an imaginary starting ‘box’ from opposite ends of the line, various tactics were deployed by both crews – on occasion it was ‘run and hide’ with a timed run back to the line and on others it was full-on boat-on-boat action with the highly manoeuvrable AC40s being perfect match-race craft. The game in town was to get the other off the foils as the speed differential is simply massive and Josh Junior and Leo Takahashi were asking serious questions of Pete and Nathan all afternoon in a dying light and a north-easterly that barely broke double digits.


The fascinating part of the pre-start is the final lead back into the line with the inevitable jockeying for position and the need to kill speed by executing huge scallops, bearing away for speed and heading up for position. With the seconds counting down, the finals 45 seconds is all-on. And it’s in the crucial moments of the head-up, where the danger lies for the boat coming off the foils and requires huge accuracy to get right – go just too high and the windward heel comes on and in the light the AC40s can drop like a stone (relatively) to displacement.

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