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Cup Spy - May 23: Kiwis reveal new top speed of 50.7kts

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 24 May 2023 22:43 NZST 23 May 2023
Emirates Team New Zealand - AC40 - LEQ12 - Day 24, May 23, 2023 © Adam Mustill / America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - May 23, 2023:

Emirates Team New Zealand had an early start, with a poor forecast which didn't eventuate. The Kiwis set a new top speed of 50.7kts - achieved in a bear-away. Alinghi Red Bull Racing broached twice in top end conditions - self recovering each time. Luna Rossa started their session in a 15kt breeze, but stopped for the day after a gear issue which could not be identified on the water.

  • Luna Rossa sailed from Cagliari, in a medium strength SSE breeze. The session was shortened soon after it started due to the crew hearing an unusual noise on the boat, and decided to stop the session, find the source rather than risk damaged to the boat. Horacio Carabelli (Co-Design Coordinator) disclosed in a post session interview that the team was close to signing off the final design for their race boat.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed in top end conditions, broaching twice - and effecting an unassisted righting in their AC40-4 LEQ12.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand had an early morning sail, due to an ominous weather forecast for later in the day. In the interview session after the sail, crew member Blair Tuke revealed that they had hit a new top speed - 50.7kts - presumably set in one of their bearaways. The Kiwis training session turned into a tack/gybe fest with 151 tacks/gybes with 138 of those being dry for a success percentage of 91.3% in a fresh offshore breeze.
  • INEOS Britannia did not sail.
  • American Magic, last sailed on March 10, and is packing out to make the move to their permanent base in Barcelona.

  • No further news from the Orient Express Team (formerly K-Challenge).

Emirates Team NZ - LEQ12 - Day 24 - May 23, 2023 - Auckland

Flight controller/sail trimmer Blair Tuke was pleased with the session, disclosing that the team had hit 50.7kts during one of the bear aways in the fresh SW breeze and flat water.

"It was a good day for us. Probably one of our earliest dockouts this campaign. We're struggling with the weather windows over recent times, and the southerly breeze was forecast to increase pretty quickly.

"It actually stayed softer for longer than we predicted, which gave us a good window until what is now 1.00pm something and we've been on the water since 7.30am or so. It was a long session. We had a really good second day on the new foil.

One of the features of the session was some pre-start practices with three circles in the pre-start period, and doing over 150 tacks/gybe in the five hour sailing session sailed in 12-18kts. "I think we're still just trying to get to grips with it [match racing and prestarts]. Josh [Junior] and his team are going pretty good. So they've been doing some good training on that, so we're trying to get ourselves ready to have some pre-start action with them, in the coming days.

"It's just good to see that [new test] foil. With a different foils on side, we can see the different characteristics. Today was bit of fun we certainly weren't always in control today we got better and better as the day went on and we got new top speed."

"We do flight control in a lot of different ways, in those bear aways. But I think 50.7kts (originally spoken as 57kts) or something like that is pretty good."

From the AC37 Joint Recon Team [Alastair Moore AC-Recon]:

An early start for the team to use the forecasted best part of the day had the boat (LEQ12) out of the shed before 0630hrs and launched at 0648hrs.

She was towed from her berth at 0723hrs and was hoisting sails (J3 and M1) to have them both on their locks by 0732hrs. The LEQ12 was up and sailing at 0741hrs and headed down wind out the Rangitoto channel where she did two longish windward-leewards looking at modes/pitch angles and heel.

The early sea state with a left over NE swell of .7 of a meter still running under the new wind chop made the course a little unfair as to judge how much quicker the new foil is but the team looked to have a little trouble tacking onto the new foil but as the session progressed their completion rates increased positively. The yacht came to a stop at the southern end of Takapuna beach at 08.26 and had the chase along side shortly afterwards.

At 0842hrs she was sailing again this time three more vague longish (8NM) windward leewards with some moving and then some big round ups on the new foil. She came to a stop off Long Bay beach at 0941hrs

Sailing again at 0953hrs this time tight reaching on starboard with the occasional bear away or round up, Then after tacking she ran North along the East Coast Bays doing similar round ups and bear aways.

She stopped at 1027hrs for five minutes, in this time the chase boat set a start line and at. The first three pre starts had many mistakes and lots of time off the foils. With the J3 on she looked under done and always searching for power with wind speed as low as 8kts and as high as 12 kts over this session. Sailing again at 1109am with three more pre start drills, far fewer mistakes in this block with the breeze up 3-4kts knots, Some very tight circling observed with three full loops done back to back.

The Start line was lifted at 1140hrs and she now went into a beat up to Mechanics bay, then a run back out past Rangitoto light, then a beat back up to Bean rock where she bore away in a puff of about 18kts and put miles on us (in the AC37 Recon boat) in what felt like seconds.

She now turned for the beat home coming to a stop off Mechanics Bay at at 1250pm for the tow back to base


Session Statistics - Emirates Team NZ - LEQ12 - Day 24 - May 23, 2023 - Auckland

  • Weather: 23°C 20% cloud cover, Sunny
  • Wind Strength: 12-18kts
  • Wind Direction: SW
  • Sea State: Slight
  • Roll out: 0648hrs Dock Out: 0723hrs
  • Dock In: 1318hrs Crane out: 1341hrs
  • Total Tacks: 82 - Fully foiling: 71; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 9
  • Total Gybes: 69 - Fully foiling: 67; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 0

Crew: (LEQ12) Nathan Outteridge, Peter Burling, Andy Maloney, Blair Tuke

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 - Day 27 - May 23, 2023 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed their AC40 OD in a rising wind and sea state off Barcelona.

In the later stages of the session the crew appeared to have difficulty controlling the boat which was only semi-foiling in the building seaway, and began death-rolling.

Eventually that death rolling came to its usual conclusion with the AC40 wiping out once, appearing to recover (as seen on the RFS video) and then doing a rinse and repeat a few minutes later.

It is not clear from the available video as to how the AC40 capsized as shown in the images on this page. However it appears it may have happened under tow (not unusual). None of the images on the video show the AC40 capsized (mast tip touching the water). From the video the AC40 was struggling as the sea state became bigger and more confused and the breeze increased. The new tubercle foil was on the port side foil arm, and as can be seen from the video the AC40 broached to port. Whether that was an issue with the new foil or a function of a different sea state/angle is a matter for the team to determine. Prior to the two broaches the AC40 had been sailing on starboard gybe on a regular foil, and was still struggling for control, but was foiling most of the time, often with both foils immersed.

Speaking with Bryan Mettraux, sail trimmer on board Alinghi Red Bull Racing, he said the sea state was "flood tide and then not really perfect conditions. So we started doing some testing and everything was fine. And then the winds started picking up pretty quickly and the wave too. So at the end, we had more than 20 knots and really big waves and shorter periods."

He said the new tubercle foil on the port side "was a good feeling, with the new foil, we still have to learn how to use it. But it's a really good feeling. It's always interesting to test different things. And today we had a matrix. So we did different pitch configurations, and different ride heights. So it was interesting."

From the AC37 Joint Recon team:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC40-4 at 0900hrs, ahead of forecast rain followed by an organised photoshoot. After standard pre-sailing checks, the team docked out at 1330hrs, with members of the foil design team, Michel Kermarec and Nico Bailey, on Chase Alpha. The conditions for the day started calm, with a forecasted increase towards 20 kts of East wind. With the wind came an extreme chop/swell, ranging from 1m - 1.5m in height and 4-6s in period.

The M1-1 OD was hoisted in port and the yacht was towed out through the shipping lane, 5NM South East, out of the wind hole close to the city where cumulonimbus clouds started to form above. With intent of testing, sailing commenced at 1415hrs, as a very short phase on port was sailed before changing to the J3-1 OD.

A 5 minute reference was taken on port upwind before tacking to starboard and sailing on the new ‘tubercle’ foil for 10 minutes. A bear away and eight gybes followed, as the yacht then rounded up and tacked to sail back out to sea on port.

At this point the wind and sea state increased significantly, with gusts of 20 knots. It became increasingly difficult for all boats chasing to keep up with the yacht faring better off upwind. They then bore away to sail downwind impressively in the large swell, definitely on the limit.

They encountered trouble after a gybe, but managed to keep the head of the mainsail out of the water, and successfully managed to carry on sailing. After a second close call, they continued to sail with two boards down before losing it on starboard tack towards home. The yacht was completely on its side and two sailors, Nico Charbonnier and Bryan Mettraux, ended up in the water while attempting to safely set up the towline. The yacht was righted and sails were dropped before towing back to base.

The team spent three and a half hours on the water, covering 45NM and completing 12 maneuvers (75% Fully Foiling).


Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 - Day 27 - May 23, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Wind Strength: 14-20kts - Crew reported seeing 19-20kts
  • Wind Direction: SSW
  • Weather: Cloudy 18°C
  • Sea State: Beaufort 3-5 1.15metre swell at 4s period
  • Roll out: 0925hrs Dock Out: 1330hrs
  • Dock In: 1705hrs Crane out: 1800hrs
  • Total Tacks: 2; Fully foiling: 2; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 10; Fully foiling: 7; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 2

  • Crew: Maxime Bachelin, Nicolas Charbonnier, Yves Detrey,Bryan Mettraux, Lucien Cujean

    Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Day 61 - May 23, 2023 - Cagliari

    Horacio Carabelli (Co-Design Coordinator) said they started sailing in a fresh breeze and building which was under the limits for racing. "We had a little bit of noise on one of our systems and we decided to call the day to understand a little bit better where that noise came from.

    "It's a pretty routine thing when you hear something. The weather tomorrow and the rest of the week seems to be very good. So why not come back and then keep going for the rest of the weekend, and improve on, and go ahead in our development and what we're trying to achieve with this boat for the week?"

    Carabelli ould not say what the specific issue was, but the AC37 Recon team believed it was from the jib car.

    "At the moment we need to take a look at the boat and and then we will we'll have a better understanding, but for sure we will be sailing back tomorrow."

    Michele Melis from AC37 Recon Team switched to questioning the design sign-off dates, asking: "overall are you on schedule with the Luna Rossa design campaign in terms of development?"

    "I think we're pretty happy now with ticking the boxes now," replied Carabelli. "We need to sail in conditions that are in a big range - like flat water like water, also with wave conditions are more similar to Barcelona, and developing the systems and the crew. So we're pretty happy where we are. And this boat is a really a very nice tool for us and we're pretty happy with it.

    "Do you think we'll see breakthroughs or radical designs in the future for Barcelona?"

    "For sure, I mean everybody's developing on their own track and boats probably will look a bit a little bit different than last time. But but let's see - it's a surprise for everyone and even for us as well."

    "How much before how much time before the venue actually will you sign off the AC 75 design?"

    "We are more or less there. They are now signing off, what will be our final lines now . So I don't have a precise date to give you, but I believe that all the all the teams are nearly there, and in the following month they will be delivering what would be the racing boat."

    Session Statistics: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Day 61 - May 23, 2023 - Cagliari

    • Weather: Cloudy 25°C
    • Wind Strength 11-15kts
    • Wind Direction: SSE
    • Sea State: SE Chop Beaufort 4-5.
    • Roll out: 1030hrs Dock Out: 1200hrs
    • Dock In: 1320hrs Crane out: 1500hrs
    • Total Tacks: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
    • Total Gybes: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

    Crew: Marco Gradoni, Jimmy Spithill, Andrea Tesei Umberto Molineris

    Additional Images:

    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. Its format is intended to give Sail-World readers a snapshot of all teams' progress on a given day or period.

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