Could this latest video provide a clue to the difference in performance between the most likely Challenger and the current Defender?
The Kiwis know that they are far quicker in a straight line and around the corners than their fellow Challengers Luna Rossa. Every match against the Italians during the Round Robin stage of the Louis Vuitton series was a one sided affair with a huge gap between the two boats at the finish.
But what the Kiwis don’t know is how they would shape up to Oracle Racing when the Defenders out their pedal to the metal. Here. the Kiwis are in the dark yet the Defenders have a good handle on how quick their most likely opponents come the Cup match have been thanks to the stacks of data that’s available from the racing.
With every outing, Oracle looks slicker and quicker on the water as they get used to what we believe are skinnier, lower drag but higher speed foils than those fitted to Emirates Team New Zealand’s boat which has now gone into their yard for more development work. But just how quick are they?
One of the latest videos to be posted by John Navas could start to answer that question as Oracle Racing lined up alongside Artemis. It’s a fascinating video for several reasons, not least to see just how quickly the battle scarred Artemis team has climbed the learning curve. Of course we don’t have any numbers to quantify their performance, but just watching the confidence with which they handle their new boat speaks volumes.
But the real issue is that Oracle now has a further link to the Challengers’ performance. They know the speed differences between Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand. They now have a feel for how Artemis perform at present, (albeit with the proviso that Iain Percy and his team are very likely to rapidly climb further up the learning curve), which could be a useful datum for when Artemis meets Luna Rossa for the semi finals from 6 Aug. The full performance map is starting to emerge for the Defenders while the Kiwis only have their reconnaissance data to asses Oracle’s performance with.
The video also shows just how potent Oracle’s second boat is. At one point they line up alongside Artemis as they both sail upwind. For a while the pair looked matched as Oracle’s crews and data analysis eye up the Swedish boat before hitting the turbo button and squirting away higher and faster like a boy racer wheel spinning away from the lights.
One of the downwind legs is equally impressive. Oracle holds back to give the Swedes a healthy head start before hunting Percy & Co down. Once again speed, and this time depth, sees the Defenders haul Artemis back in no time.
Something else that I took from this video was how smooth and proficient Oracle now looks. Gone are the wheelies and bucking bronco behaviour, replaced by a smooth, balanced and confident performance downwind on the foils. The boat is beautifully trimmed with the hulls running parallel to the water’s surface, something that only comes with experience and confidence. Sailing bow up, as Artemis tends to at present, is safer but slower.
And finally, let’s not forget how unusual it is to see a Challenger tuning up alongside the Defender, particularly the Challenger of Record. In the past this would have sparked furious comments from teams and observers. And while little has been said publically the move will have done little to improve relations between the Kiwis and Italians and their so called representatives. The ‘us and them’ battle that is such a central part of any America’s Cup cycle has taken a strange and unusual turn for the 34th America’s Cup.
Meanwhile, on the shore the latest news is that the Jury has upheld the race committee’s protest against Luna Rossa for not sowing up to events while throwing out the Italian’s protest regarding the alleged manipulation of images of the team