North Sails LOFT NEWS


A step closer to the 2021 America’s Cup

Emirates Team New Zealand’s AC75 Te Aihe on the Waitemata Harbour in Auckland                                                     📸 Emirates Team New Zealand

Representatives from North Sails New Zealand were in the crowd watching the race boat, christened Te Aihe or ‘Dolphin’, hit the water on a rainy Friday morning at Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour.

“It was an amazing thing to witness,” North Sails New Zealand sales and marketing manager Andrew Wills says. “There was a great atmosphere and the boat looks amazing. I can’t wait to see it up and foiling.”

North Sails is the official sail supplier for Emirates Team New Zealand for the 36th America’s Cup, and North internationally will also work with the Luna Rossa and INEOS Team UK teams. The 2021 America’s Cup signals a return to boats using more ‘traditional’ sails rather than solid wingsails — although ‘traditional’ is hardly the word for the super-high-tech double-skin mainsails the yachts will use. 

North Sails experts have had a key role since the beginning of this cycle of the event, with New Zealand-based designer Burns Fallow helping to develop the new revolutionary ‘softwing’ and write the class rule.

North Sails New Zealand has been involved with every local America’s Cup challenge and defence since our first tilt at the Cup in 1987, with KZ7 in Perth. For the 2011 and 2017 challenges, where the big catamarans were powered by solid wingsails, North sailmakers completed supplied one-design sail blanks for headsails for various teams, but this time they are back in a full sailmaking role.

“It’s really great that Team New Zealand has made an effort to get sails back on the boats,” says Wills. “This time the sails are being finished here in Auckland on our main production floor, by our staff. Members of the team are able to come over and help, and talk with us about what they need as we go.”

North Sails New Zealand general manager Richard Bicknell says being involved with the Cup is a morale-booster for its staff, especially the younger sailmakers. “It’s really fantastic for these guys to be involved in building America’s Cup sails. They feel a real sense of pride when they see the boats out there and see their work in action.”

Having the America’s Cup entrants using the latest sail technology also means potential trickle-down effects for the wider yachting industry. 

“Up to Bermuda, from every America’s Cup there has been something that comes out of it in terms of sailmaking. Whether it’s aramid like Kevlar or Cuben fiber (now Dyneema), and laminated sails like North 3DL and 3Di — all these advances came from the America’s Cup,” says Bicknell. “Likewise, from this event there will be innovations which will eventually benefit other boat owners and sailors”.


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