Designed and created in-house at Emirates Team New Zealand – the SL-33s were the prototype boats in the build-up to America’s Cup 34 and were responsible for the team leading the charge in full foiling. All the America’s Cup syndicates were allowed to build two, 33-foot catamarans to test their design ideas; the boat developed by ETNZ would change the face of the Cup.
Getting wet on Stratis SL-33 was no surprise, but I was not prepared for the frequency or volume of water that poured through the trampoline, making it almost impossible at times to see or breathe. Nor was I ready for the G-forces as the boat jerked left and right as it foiled downwind, trying its best to throw us all off. Travelling in a straight line while foiling is virtually impossible. Constant and often violent adjustments to the foil, helm and sail trim are necessary to keep the boat in a narrow sweet-spot of balance and speed which allows foiling.
The sensation of foiling on Stratis SL-33 is quite surreal. The day I was lucky enough to be invited for a sail saw a fresh sou’westerly breeze blowing down the Waitemata Harbour. At times it definitely felt like we were perilously close to the edge, though it felt quite different from my experience of foiling on other boats in recent months.
It’s even worse when the hydrofoil cavitates. The boat drops from flight; the wave-piercing bows punch into the water. Everything stops. The mountain of white water makes it impossible to see. You have no idea how deep the bows have gone. The only sensation is of G-forces as you rapidly decelerate. It's an exhilarating ride and another incredible experience in the high-speed world of foiling.
The last few weeks have been marked by incredible highs and despairing lows. The excitement of standing shoulder to shoulder with the Volvo Ocean Race teams, the thrill of sailing on-board arguably the birthplace of foiling to be offset by the tragic news of the loss of John Fisher from Team Scallywag, in treacherous waters in the remote Southern Ocean. Regardless of experience, the Volvo Ocean Race, also called the Everest of Sailing, underscores the many dangers sailors risk in a bid to cross the finish line first. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this terrible time.
I look forward to updating you all on my first transition into the world of match-racing; a regatta to select a team to compete at the Youth World Match Racing Championships later this year. With no previous experience in match-racing it's sure to be interesting!
Thanks as always for all the love and support.