With the slight exception of (below-average) boogie boarding, I am nowhere near a watersports person. I think that’s important to keep in mind as I try to make sense of what it’s like to hold on for dear life on the back of an America’s Cup AC45 catamaran, or as it felt to me: a wind-powered carbon fiber water rocket.
As promotion for this weekend’s America’s Cup World Series event on the lower part of Manhattan’s Hudson River, I, along with other media members, got to ride shotgun (read: deadweight on the back of the ship’s net holding on to a thin cable and the net itself) during practice runs on the river.
After being taken out to the Emirates New Zealand AC45 foiling catamaran (basically a super light sailboat that rises up on smooth blades to cut water resistance), I quickly sat against a beam and held tightly on to the net as we started cutting through the river at speeds up to 45 knots (a little over 50 mph, so for a sailboat, um, brisk) past the west side of lower Manhattan.
It should also be mentioned that while shooting forward at those speeds is crazy and impressive, it was much more the whip around turns and moments when one side of the boat would lift fully out of the water (foil included) and keep speeding along on the other hull while the sailors aboard would jump across the net adjusting sails and working hard to quite literally right the ship.
With my locked-in position on the back, it was hard to get a sense of the course we were traversing, but holy hell was it impressive to see the type of command and communication Team New Zealand had while maintaining complete control over their ship. The nice thing about knowing nothing about the sport, but clearly admiring NZ’s excellence, was that I could just sit back and giggle while getting crushed with water and zooming by the Freedom Tower on my temporary steed.
So yeah, pretty good little Thursday.
(And if you'd like to see a clearly lesser athlete do it, here's Lindsey Vonn doing the same thing for Red Bull)