What’s it like having a wing that size?
TH: We’ve had an AC72 wing on a trimaran and it’s unbelievably impressive from start from finish. From watching the shore team execute getting the wing in the boat to getting the boat off the mooring to going out sailing. The whole thing is on a magnitude of something I don’t think anybody really thought all the way through when the thing was being written. It’s going to be exciting times ahead of us. All the teams are in for an eye opening experience. It’s been awesome to be out sailing with an element of the AC72 and to be the first ones doing it.
Does it really feel that intimidating?
TH: Yes it does, without question. We sea trialed our trimaran about ten days ago in about 20 knots of breeze and had the thing in the high 30s boat speed wise with just soft sails. We went out on the first day with the wing in relatively calm conditions and it gives you - for the lack of better words - it gives you the shits. But when you look at the thing, it’s like, “Oh man!” But that’s the challenge of it, and I think, therein lays the opportunity for Artemis. For sure we have a lot of challenges ahead of us and that’s one we all have to face.
You’ve launched the wing earlier than you can launch the boat - is that indication that Artemis feels the wing is where the advantage will lay?
TH: There are certain limitations within the rules, correct we have to adhere to. We’re just getting as much out of it as we possibly can. We have to overcome that we are a new team and operationally it’s a big challenge to get 100 people operating and functioning and doing all the things that you need to do to be an efficient team when the boat goes out on the water.
What the wing presented to us was not only the opportunity to do something full-scale but it was an opportunity to start working on the process of developing the team. Those two points alone will be worth a lot down the road when we get it to the 72. It also shows us where we’re exposed in areas - on the shore team, on the sailing team - certain aspects of the team.
Then, when you go out sailing with the thing, I can’t tell you with words how impressive it is. We’re slowly gaining confidence with the amount of load that we put the thing under. In 12-13 knots of breeze going twice that in boat speed with just the wing - it’s hard to add another 12 or 15 knots of windspeed to that and put yourself on SF Bay and imagine how it’s all going to go. But that’s an equal part of the process and when we took the decision to do this, this is where we felt it was going to pay off.
Will you do all your (permitted) 30 days sail training with the 72 in Valencia?
TH: I don’t think we’ll do 30, but it’s a little premature to commit, as so much is dependent upon the success of the structure of the 72. I think if we have a good success rate there we’ll try to get everything into SF Bay sooner than later. My hope is that whatever it is, late or early in 2012, when we put the boat in the water in SF Bay, we need to be ready to go sailing the boat around the race course.
What part of the World Series experience will be most valuable to the 72?
TH: Number 1 for us has been to upscale our sailors. We did that because we felt that the ability to take in information and make the right decision while going along at 25-30 knots, is a pretty key factor to this racing. The best thing that’s happened to us is that we’ve taken a lot of knocks on the chin in the 45 - bad boat handling or not performing to the level we expect of ourselves. We’ve shown to ourselves what we need to do to get better. Then when we get onto the 72, we can execute those things a lot better. Our competition is really good and rock solid through these events yet you saw Russell get off the Oracle boat and a really good multi hull sailor get on board - one of the best in the world - he struggled to get a good finish at the last regatta. It highlighted to us that each person on the boat is critical to the ultimate success of the boat so from a team perspective, the team will be as good as the weakest person. It’s a much different approach to what you’re used to in a mono hull. That’s probably the most exciting thing about it - between the 45 and the trimaran it provides a much different perspective to what you need to do.
Seems like trimming the 45 was seat-of-the-pants in terms of how you set up the wing, the camber, the twist etc. How much more scientific do you expect it to be trimming the 72?
TH: I think what we’re inevitably after is setting something up that has the simplicity of the 45 wing with all the power and info of the design team behind it so that it meets the function in the simplistic manner of the 45 but it needs to come from a different parameter of complexity - it needs to perform differently.