On Saturday morning I woke up and my lags hurt. It was worth it. On Friday we got to do something that I had always wanted to do for a long time, (but I’m not sure Suzi was as enthusiastic), sail on an America’s Cup yacht. In Auckland we got the chance. The Yacht we sailed on did not actually compete for the cup. She was built for the German syndicate but the backers ran out of money and had to make the choice between competing for the America’s Cup or for the Volvo Around the World sail race. They made the right choice since they won the Volvo cup. However, the yacht was already in New Zealand. The New Zealand yacht had some severe problems during shakedown. So Team New Zealand bought this boat to train the crew, to run them through the drill while their own yacht was fitted out for the race, which it won.
The yacht, NZL68, is 8o feet long, the mast is 113 ft high and she weighs 20 tons. She is designed to sail between 9 and 12 knots while racing. When we started it was a fine day with good winds and on the run down the harbor toward the sea we were running at 12.9 knots. But then it got squally and the trip back was a bit more exciting.
In order to get back we had to tack back and forth, and the yacht heeled over hard, first to port, where we were, and then, on the tack, hard to starboard. When we were on the low side it was fun, skimming right above the water, when we were on the high side, in other words when we were heeled over to starboard we were high in the air, and my legs had to work hard for me to continue upright, even leaning against the rail. It was an exciting ride back, and when we cut through the wake of the Devonport ferry we got the authentic America’s Cup experience. We got wet.
It was a two hour sail, from 9 to 11. By 11 the wind had come up to the point where they canceled the following sails. America’s Cup yachts are designed to sail in light winds. The company canceled all the trips the day before as well because the tag end of tropical cyclone Fihe came through Auckland. We arrived at the sweet spot.