Who better to talk to about the AC45 than Terry Hutchinson, the helmsman of Artemis Racing, by far the challenger most advanced in their quest to win the America’s Cup. We briefly caught up we Terry who gave us his first assessment on the brand new AC45 after 7 days of sailing in Auckland.
VSail.info: What are you general impressions from the first days of sailing on the AC45?
Terry Hutchinson: The boat is powerful, difficult to boat handle, yet quite controllable with the wing. We have been out in 25+ knots and the wing adds quite a bit of performance over the soft sail, but also gives you quite a bit more control.
VSail.info: How does it compare to the Extreme40?
Terry Hutchinson: A lot safer or should I say the wing, balanced with a much more refined hull shape, makes the boat different. The Extreme 40 is a great boat for the audience that it was designed for, but the AC 45 is quite a step up in terms of technology.
VSail.info: What do you think are the strongest and weakest points of the AC45?
Terry Hutchinson: It’s difficult to comment at this stage as we have only been sailing it for seven days.
VSail.info: How would you rate its maneuverability? Does it tack fast?
Terry Hutchinson: The maneuverability of the AC45 seems to be pretty good. We are in tight quarters getting in and out of the Viaduct in Auckland (NZ) and that is as good of a gauge as any.
We have done such limited racing that it is really premature to say. I would say the more difficult maneuver is tacking up range with the wing alone. Like any multihull, you have to be really careful with getting the boat up to pace before the tack. Getting stuck head-to-wind can be catastrophic as we learned last month.
VSail.info: Is it a physical boat? Does the crew work harder?
Terry Hutchinson: Yes. It’s very physical. The demands will be quite high on the crew and there will be injuries. With the large spine running down the middle of the boat for structural purposes, there is limited room for the crew to get underneath the wing. We have already seen other teams come off the water with cracked ribs, stitches and lots of skin gashing. It is the nature of the beast. The boats will eat people if we are not careful.
VSail.info: Have you had the time to match race? Do you think the AC45 will provide exciting match racing?
Terry Hutchinson: We have not had a chance yet. We hope to do so later in our first session but it is low priority right now. I think that we all have to get our heads around the fact that match racing these boats will be quite a bit different. We could see big separation only to have the boats come together at pace and be two boat-lengths behind at the top mark. Too early to tell.
VSail.info: You are a Louis Vuitton Cup winner on ACC, a World Champion on a TP52. If you had to choose between the ACC, TP52, X40 or AC45 just for the sailing pleasure it provides which one would it be?
Terry Hutchinson: None of the above as I would opt for pleasure sailing with my family however, it probably would involve a multi-hull as they are good fun. For pleasure racing (now that is a contradiction of terms if I have ever heard one) I would say that the TP 52 is still pretty good fun. The boats are very refined and the best teams succeed. The 34th America’s Cup is going to provide sailors and fans with something that we have never seen before. It is hard to know just yet how good the actual racing will be as we have not done any, but it will be a sailing experience that I know I have not yet experienced in my life.