Emirates Team NZ has 'great fun' with moth sailing

Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) is heading for a rematch with America’s Cup holders Oracle, although on a somewhat smaller scale.

At a little under 3.5m in length there’s not a lot to the moth, but what the lightweight dinghy lacks in size it more than makes up for in speed.

“It’s just great fun,” says ETNZ skipper Dean Barker. “You really enjoy the speed, the exhilaration; it’s very rewarding when your boat handling’s good – if your boat handling’s not, you lose a lot. You’ve always got to be on your game.”

The moth doesn’t share a lot in common with the boats ETNZ have become more familiar with, apart from the foils. But there’s still plenty to take from the smaller boats.

“It’s like you’re learning to sail again,” says ETNZ tactician Ray Davies. “These boats are pretty difficult, even tacking is pretty hard, and if you want to make gains you have to foil tack.”

Last year was Peter Burling and Blair Tuke’s first year in the ETNZ fold. The pair sailed under team colours on the Extreme Sailing Series while also defending their world championship in the Olympic 49er class.

“It seems to be going pretty well,” says Burling. “To be honest we’ve had a pretty good year in the 49er, we’re looking to keep that going and build the pressure on everyone else going into Rio, and hopefully it ramps up here too soon.”

While Burling and Tuke are aiming for gold in Rio, the moth is a return to small boat sailing for Barker since his own Olympic days.

“The skills weren’t what they used to be when I was sailing Laser and Finns,” he says. “You feel it come back reasonably quickly, never had the benefit of sailing moths when I was coming through but it’s a really good challenge and really rewarding when you start to make some progress.”

A number of America’s Cup syndicates are sending teams to compete in a world competition. Oracle has held a number of camps in Australia in preparation.

With America’s Cup sailing set to resume in 2015, what better time to notch an early victory.

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