AmericaOne New Zealand Chronicles: East Meets West

Its an exciting time to be at the AmericaOne compound these days. Exciting can be translated to mean concerned, encouraged and confident. We have had some tough breaks in Round Robin 2 losing an over-early against America True and a real heavy air gear buster against Stars & Stripes. Balance that with an exciting come-from-behind victory against Nippon (we caught and passed them BEFORE they lost the rig) and today’s win over Young America. We feel we have really gained an accurate understanding of how USA 49 stacks up against the competition. This is very important as we now enter one of the most strategic periods of our campaign.

Today’s race against New York was satisfying. Both syndicates have had a tougher-than-expected Round Robin 2 (mind you, I wouldn’t trade our Round Robin 2 for theirs for all the tea in China). Paul and John are really clicking as they have won our last two starts in a big way. Today, they had Ed Baird and the boys trapped over the line as the gun blew and led them back to the line to start one boat length ahead and on their breeze. A couple of downspeed tacks and we saw the two boats split, New York heading left and AmericaOne heading right. John had confidence in Clouds’ forecast and sailed out into a 10 degree right shift and three more knots of wind. When the boats came back together AmericaOne had a lead which ended up being more than two minutes at the first weather mark. It was a tough day to comeback for the Young Americans and AmericaOne slowly extended their lead throughout the race.

Brad Fitzgerald and shore team have been working flat-out since USA 61 arrived on a plane last week. In order to get her ready for sea trials they have assembled the keel, fin and bulb, mounted the hull on the keel, and installed the trim tab, rudder and the steering systems for each foil. Finally, they stepped the mast. Once in the water, she was put through a series of carefully administered dock tests. This involves stationing the boat builders throughout the boat at all the major structures (mast step, keel box, runners bulkhead, forestay bulkhead) and slowly loading up the runners. Both of the running backstays are wound-up one revolution at a time. After each turn of the winch handle, everyone stops and listens for sounds – sounds we do not want to hear. This is truly a case of silence being golden. They slowly load the boat up until there is 22,000 lbs of pressure on the runners. As they load it up, they watch for movement in string lines and level beams set up and calibrated at certain stations in the boat. The hull bends and moves under the huge load, but only a few millimeters. All quiet on the loaded-up 61 led to satisfied smiles on Ted Brown and Mike Eldred’s faces. These guys spent the busiest 19 weeks of their lives building 61. To know she is as solid as rock is very satisfying.

With our last race against the French tomorrow, the period between Round Robin 2 and Round Robin 3 is quickly approaching. Due to weather delays to Round Robin 2 the time off is considerably shorter than originally scheduled. It looks like we will get about ten days (Nov 22-Dec 1) to do some testing and accomplish two major goals. Optimize and reconfigure USA 49 and tune-up USA 61. Then, we have to make the decision – which one we will use in Round Robin 3?

Stay tuned.