Back in April, SoftBank Team Japan pulled off their first foiling tack in their AC45X test boat. Last week they released a video and a news article. A day later, Oracle Team USA reported that they, too have done foiling tacks, including in complete “manual mode” meaning without electric motors pumping hydraulic oil to operate the daggerboards. Here are the videos and a detailed look at Team Japan’s choreography. To describe the action, we’ll number the crew positions 1 to 6, starting in the bow.
At 12 seconds into the video, we hear helmsman Dean Barker call, “Standing by” to start the manoeuvre. Wing trimmer Chris Draper hands Barker the wing trim line and crosses to the port hull to set up the wing trim line on that side and to steer while Barker crosses over later. The number 1 man crosses with Draper.
At 19 seconds into the video, the number 3 man leaves his cockpit to tack the wing using an inverter line. He then crosses to the port hull. Remember that in 2013, Team New Zealand almost capsized their AC72 in Race 8 when their hydraulically controlled wing did not tack. Oracle had an inverter line to tack their AC72 wing manually, and their AC Class design, used by Team Japan, also has a manual inverter line for the wing.
As they complete the tack, Barker crosses over after the number 4 man. While Barker crosses, Draper is steering from the wing trimmer position, and trimming the wing. At the end of the manoeuvre, the number 2 man is still in his cockpit in the starboard hull.
When you play the video, listen to the high pitched whine of the electric pumps for the hydraulics.The louder, groaning sound is the wing trim line as the trimmer lets it slip on the winch drum. The AC Class boats that will race next year must only use manual power – no electric pumps permitted.