The Pitch Pole – Some Insight to ETNZ’s Capsize

Emirate’s Team New Zealand capsized (pitched poled) during the starting sequence of race 4 of the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series semi finals against Britain’s Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing (35th America’s Cup, Bermuda).

Some insights from Andy Claughton – Chief Technology Officer for Britain’s Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing who was a research and design coordinator in past Cup cycles from 2000 to 2007 with Team New Zealand.

A pitch pole resulting from a bear-away is an unforced error.  I know I’ve had a few bear-aways not go to plan that have sometimes ended up with me joining the swim team.  Ben Ainslie did a great job of putting the Kiwi’s in a tight spot, with the windward starting mark being close-ish.  Is this the tightest bear-away for the wind conditions, we’ve seen from a team in the 35th America’s Cup so far?

Bear-away’s can be tricky.  Key points to a successful bear-away are:

  • Get your boat flat before you initiate it – hike out more, and or easy your sails to remove the heel.
  • Keep it flat during the maneuver – you can use a combination of things to do this:
    • Move your body weight to maintain a near flat heel
    • Ease both sails during the maneuver; the jib should be just of luffing so it has maximum pull while only adding a minimum to the heeling moment.  Easy the main rapidly to allow the jib to pull your boat around/down, but not add anything to the heeling moment that you can’t balance.

sources: America’s Cup Yachting World – Elaine Bunting, Stuff