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Cup Spy Jan 12 : Brits and Swiss have big days

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-world.com/nz 14 Jan 01:12 NZDT 13 January 2023
Training in perfect foiling conditions - Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - January 12, 2023 - Barcelona © Alex Carabi / America's Cup

Two teams took to the water today in Barcelona and Mallorca.

After the sessions, the relief was palpable, now that both teams could tick some of the basic boxes, ahead of a late starting testing regime. Both teams sailed in similar breezes and sea conditions - a breeze building to 13kts, on a heaving seaway, with a slight wind chop and underlying cross-swell. Speeds were good - getting into the mid-thirties - about three times windspeed.

All teams are working against time deadlines, with final hull design signoff for all teams expected in a couple of months, with lofting and construction expected to begin in the second quarter of 2023 - a milestone already announced by Emirates Team NZ.

What happened in the Cup - January 12, 2023:

  • INEOS Britannia had their fifth and best sail to date in their LEQ12 sailing out of Mallorca. This sailing session was an extension of the level they achieved the previous day. The speed was good, and the flight control acceptable - assuming the Brits were not on auto-pilot.
  • American Magic had a day ashore, and are breaking in a new mainsheet system for their clew sheeted mainsail.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand are not expected to sail until January 16, debris permitting after a couple of weeks of stormy weather. However the summer returned to Auckland today, for how long is the question.
  • Luna Rossa was also a no show today - but would have been pleased with their performance on Wednesday.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing got sailing in a good session off Barcelona in a similar sea state and breeze, and looked to be going around on rails, in what was probably their best session to date. It is very hard to tell from the images available what changes have been made to the boat since it went into the shed, six weeks ago, on November 16.
  • No further developments from the late entry French K-Challenge. When they announced the acceptance of their Challenge on January 3, they promised a full announcement in a fortnight, which is about the middle of next week. The America's Cup fans hold their breath.

INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Mallorca - Day 11

The British team sailed for fifth day in their LEQ12, or prototype yacht, used as a test platform for the development of their AC75 race boat.

These last couple of days have been a time when the Brits had to get some traction in their program, and arrest the run of teething problems that have beset the team to date. Most of these stem from the towing mast saga, coupled with the very exacting approach by America's Cup standards to get the boat set up very precisely as an accurate and repeatable process each sailing day, to avoid data contamination caused by set-up inaccuracy. The F1 approach is very evident.

We got the impression that getting the Mallorca/Brackley interface to run live, was a key objective of the week, and that this has been largely achieved so that the on the water, Mallorca and Brackley based design teams are seeing live data and video, without having wait around after the session for everyone to be on the same page of test outcomes and issues.

There was some very long video sequences in the 105 videos posted of the session, which gave a degree of confidence on which to assess the session. The takeaway is that the boat speed is good, flight control OK, and as a test platform rather than a racing yacht, then the Brits are look to be on the glide path to where they want to be. The issue for them now is whether their precision will work in the time available. Lurking behind this process is AI, which if set up properly, should come up with some interesting answers, provided the base data is accurately recorded.

As was seen with Emirates Team NZ in their dark, cash-starved days of 2015, a lateral and well-thought approach can yield a very good boat, even when time is at a premium, and other teams look to be making very visible progress, in obvious directions.

Top international sailing journalist, Justin Chisholm, is a member of the AC37 Recon Team assigned to monitor and report on INEOS Britannia. He reports:

"From an observers point of view the British team’s third consecutive sailing day this week looked to be a huge one with multiple prolonged fast foiling runs of up to 50 minutes, as well plenty of foiling tacks and gybes. Well over 60 nautical miles were sailed using the length and breadth of Palma Bay.

"There appeared to be no issues with the boat and this week’s consistent crew of helmsmen Giles Scott and Ben Cornish with new water Bleddyn Mon and Leigh McMillan on trimming and flight control appeared to be relishing in pushing the boat to speeds above 35 knots downwind and as high as 28 knots upwind.

"The bulk of this sailing was carried out in 12 - 13 knots of breeze, and a light chop sea state, using a J3 headsail, but a J5 was substituted in for the final part of the day. This switch appeared to increase the top end speeds upwind and down for the same wind strength.

"A slight issue with the port foil was suspected in the final part of the day and the crew sailed the boat back towards the port in displacement mode on port with that foil raised – although no issue has been confirmed.

"The final hour of the day was spent trying a second mainsail pairing up the British LEQ12’s mast but this took place head to wind and while on a side tow with their support boat and no sailing took place with this new sail."

After the session Chisholm spoke with Will Bakewell, INEOS Britannia's Testing Validation Lead, a role which Bakewell described as "being in charge of the technical elements of our test programme, and trying to extract as much knowledge, from an engineering point of view out of the boat as we can."

"I'm trying to take all of that data and then sort of slice it and dice it as efficiently as possible and distribute it to the technical team, whether they're here or indirectly, so that we can make make the race boat as fast as possible."

"I think it was we learned a lot, especially in the first half of the day, when had a lot more efficiency to our testing process. With that, we get the opportunity to compare things directly [with the three design teams] on the water.

"Today we managed to up our efficiency again. That's really the the big takeaway from today is that we can go out there and do those long days."

Bakewell explained their approach is to write a test programme that in the morning, and go out on the water. "Obviously, it changes as we are dependent on the sea state and wind conditions and the runway and all of those sorts of things. We have to get through a matrix of sailing configurations, and today we did we did most of what we set out to do, and it's it's a rare day that you tick all of those things off.".

The other task for the day was to check the geometry on a new mainsail, which took about an hour.

Session Statistics - Mallorca - January 12, 2023 - INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Day 11

  • Wind Strength 0-6kts(AM) 12-13kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: Northerly
  • Roll out: 0918hrs Dock Out: 1042hrs
  • Dock In: 1730hrs Crane out: 1800hrs
  • Total Tacks: 4 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 4
  • Total Gybes: 3 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 3

Crew: Giles Scott, Ben Cornish, Leigh McMillan, Bleddyn Mon

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Barcelona - January 12, 2023 - Day 35

Alinghi rolled the yacht out of the shed for the first time since 19th December, and sailed for the first time since November 16, spending a total of 4hours on the water.

Nine years ago Nicolas Rolaz was standing on the victory podium at the Optimist Worlds in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and being crowned Optimist World champion. Today the 23yr old, was speaking as a member of the Alinghi Red Bull Racing Power Team, and gave the AC37 Recon Team a dockside interview at the team base in Barcelona, after today's sailing session.

He told the AC37 Joint Recon Team that it was "a very nice day, nice to be back foiling. We managed to take the most of the morning wind. So we are really happy."

Having not sailed for six weeks Rolaz said the key task today "was of course to try the jibs on the new self tracking system. And to do a little shakedown after the couple of weeks out of the water."

"As power group we've been grinding in the gym, getting fitter and get ready for for the season."

"Our training plan is still very mixed. We're doing a bit of everything. Doing bike, doing uphill training.

"We're spending a lot of time on the bike because it's a good tool to have to get fit. And we are exploring all the possibilities."

Session Statistics - Barcelona, Spain - January 12, 2023 - Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75

  • Wind Strength: 5-13kts
  • Wind Direction: NW
  • Sea State: 1 (AM); 1 (PM)
  • Roll out: 0815hrs Dock Out: 0945hrs
  • Dock In: 1345hrs Crane out: 1430hrs
  • Total Tacks: 5 - Fully foiling:; Touch & Go:; Touch Down: 5
  • Total Gybes: - Fully foiling:; Touch & Go:; Touch Down:

Crew: Driving Team: Pietro Sibello, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Lucien Cujean, Maxime Bachelin, Yves Detrey, Nicolas Charbonnier, Bryan Mettreaux. Power Team: Nils Theuninck, Nico Rolaz

Additional Images:

INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Mallorca - January 12, 2022 - Day 11

This commentary was written and compiled from video, still images and statistical content extracted from the AC37 Joint Recon program and other material available to Sail-World NZ including photo files, and other on the water coverage from the 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2021 America's Cups.

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