America’s Cup Defender Emirates Team New Zealand began its two boat testing programme on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour today in ideal 12- 15 knots NE winds. It was the first opportunity the team has had to sail in the past week in the wake of the unprecedented weather event in the city over the Auckland Anniversary weekend.

Onboard the AC40’s for the 3.5 hour session was the now familiar crew of Peter Burling and Nathan Outteridge helming with Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney trimming on AC40.1. Liv MacKay swapped port side driving duties with Leonard Takahashi while Josh Junior was on the starboard helm on the second AC40 with Sam Meech and Marcus Hansen in the trimming seats.

It didn’t take long for the competitiveness of the sailors to show, engaging in some match-race action. Explained Josh Junior, “We were quickly into it, our team were just getting used to the boat and next minute Pete, Nath, Andy and Blair jumped into windward of us and we were straight into a line up which was really exciting and a huge credit to the whole team to be able to get to this point having two boats on the water.”

The benefits of the two boats squaring off were quick to appear for coach Ray Davies, “The boats were engaging so well from the outset and as a result you could definitely see some instant gains in communication between the guys and girls onboard, obviously keeping check on the other boat’s performance and moves which is really important as far as match racing goes.”

“It was a big day for Liv and Leo to step into that racing lineup position and as we expected from both of them they did a fantastic job. Obviously, Sam and Marcus haven’t had a huge amount of time in their roles either and they were great, as was JJ (Josh Junior) keeping it all together on that boat really really well.”

There was no wiping the smile from the faces of prospective Women’s and Youth team sailors Liv Mackay and Leonard Takahashi.

“I just can’t get enough, it is awesome sailing,” explained Liv Mackay who had over an hour and a half on the helm.

“I can’t wait for more Women and Youth teams to get on the AC40. They are so fun, a bit like a go-cart. So it is going to be some awesome racing and a big step up in skill set which is going to be so so good for all of us.”

Takahashi was equally excited by the new class of boat.

“The boats are epic. Like nothing I have ever sailed. They foil fast, all the aero and foils are super cool to learn about and get the hang of, so I am looking forward to keep learning and asking questions of all the guys.” He said.

“We were meant to keep it simple and chill for a bit, but the other guys lined us up. I think we got a lot out of it and for me straight into the deep end, but really grateful for the opportunity. Everyone has been really good to me and the learning has been super steep but just getting the hang of it and looking forward to the next few weeks to come.”

Today’s session, which included a number of match race scenarios and line ups created an instant increase in intensity for the on-water programme for not only the sailors but the entire on-water operations.

In campaigns long past the sight of two boats testing was a common occurrence, especially in the days of the IACC class used between 1992-2007. But not since 2012 has Emirates Team New Zealand had two boats together when a couple of SL33’s were used to verify the significance of foiling vs nonfoiling in the America’s Cup.

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