Monday, January 31, 2011

AC45 : testing the limits

Photos: Gilles Martin-Raget
30/01/2011 - Auckland (NZL) - 34th America's Cup - AC45 sea trial n ° 8 - Anniversary day - Round Rangitoto Island.
31.01.11 After participating in the Auckland Anniversary Day regatta, a race that took competitors around Rangitoto Island in the Hauraki Gulf, ORACLE Racing skipper Jimmy Spithill was confident he’d shattered the speed record for the prototype AC45.

Overnight analysis of the GPS logbook shows that confidence was justified. Spithill and crew topped out at 29.9 knots (approximately 34 MPH/55 km/h) in the race with winds blowing between 25 and 30 knots.

Although one-tenth of a knot shy of the 30-knot barrier, the new speed record surpasses the 28-knot mark set by Murray “The Captain” Jones last week.

When they got shoreside, some crewmembers thought that Jones had fiddled with the speedo, hindering its readings particularly off the wind. But there’s no denying the AC45 has speed to burn.

The AC45 surpassed 20 knots during its maiden voyage on Jan. 17. Two days later the crew was sailing comfortably at 25 knots. Then Jones set the 28-knot mark on Jan. 21.

Today’s outing proved that the AC45 is capable of handling extreme conditions.

“We put the bow in a couple of times at 30 knots and loaded everything up,” said Matt Mason. “We were on our toes the whole time and it was great for the boat and the crew to come out of it relatively unscathed.”

View the gallery, ‘Testing the Limits’.