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Cup Spy May 15: Winter won't leave Barcelona

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 17 May 02:38 NZST 16 May 2024
Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 17 - May 15, 2024 - Barcelona © Paul Todd/America's Cup

Two teams sailed on Wednesday, in a breeze described by one of the AC37 Joint Recon teams as "unstable SSW winds prevailed during the day, moving up and down in intensity, shifting in direction, with lots of clouds' movements and scattered showers coming into play."

What happened in the Cup - May 15, 2024:

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed for the third successive day on Wednesday. Unlike Tuesday, some wind stayed around for the duration of the session. There was an awkward seastate and the Swiss did well with their dry foiling tacks and gybes in the off-axis Barcelona swell. The Recon team picked up a few more points of gear and sailing interest today which are at the bottom of this story.
  • American Magic sailed but had jib traveller issues and came in after three hours on the water - of which just 35 minutes was spent sailing.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand did not sail in the AC40s. Their AC75 is decommissioned and in the process of being shipped to Barcelona.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have decommissioned their AC75 in preparation for relocation to the team's America's Cup base in Barcelona.
  • INEOS Britannia did not sail today in their AC75.
  • Orient Express Racing Team: No AC37 Recon Team report. Their AC75 is in Barcelona however a launch date has yet to be publicly advised.

Commentary: A funky breeze and a squirrely seastate do a challenging day make

Wednesday was not the greatest day for testing, unless maybe for jib crossovers, but a good one to check self-start foiling and sailing technique in difficult conditions for foiling monohulls.

Comparing the self-start takeoff statistics, American Magic had the better numbers in terms of True Wing Angle, but both the US and Swiss teams were estimated to be hitting 20kts for lift-off. That's high.

American Magic's session was called up short after a jib traveller issue - remembering that all teams have below deck travellers - a change from the last America's Cup, and something that wasn't tested in their revamped Version 1 AC75s during testing in Barcelona.

The Swiss team did reasonably well in the conditions with six of their 28 tacks being scored as touchdowns, and only two as touch and goes. We still don't know what the target numbers should be for AC75s sailing with the new foils. But we do know that coming off the foils in the Cup, with a struggle to self-start foiling is race deciding. We would have expected both boats to have started foiling at speeds lower than 20kts. The lowest takeoff speed we've seen reported is 14kts, with most being at 15-16kts.

That of course assumes the Recon teams know how to check the speed - and are consistent in their process. It is easily done. In the last Cup we checked a couple of times on the water, in different races, and were pleasantly surprised to find we had it right down to the last knot when reviewing the speed on the TV broadcast.

Yes, the AC75s were indeed doing 39kts upwind on occasions.

A salient point lies in the off-axis swell/waves to the wind direction, which is clearly visible in the Alinghi Red Bull Racing Highlights video.

The recon team tracking the Swiss didn't report the direction, but American Magic did with a swell direction of 135° against a wind direction of 220° (recorded by both Recon teams). The swell direction (135°-140°)is within the range recorded by the AC wave buoy off Barcelona. Both teams had a seastate of 0.6,mtr with AM's recon team calling a top end of 1metre. The wave buoy supports a consistent swell height of 0.6metres.

Against that difficult environment the Swiss did pretty well, particularly at this stage of the game they're in a new AC75 with a new foil configuration and dimensions.

The US team's session was called up short after a jib traveller issue - all teams now have below deck travellers for the self-tacking jibs - a change from the last America's Cup. From memory, these concealed setups weren't tested in their revamped Version 1 AC75s during earlier testing in Barcelona.

The US team opted to head for shore for a jib fix and did not return.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 17 - May 15, 2024 - Barcelona

Alingi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC75 at 10:00hrs. The boat was craned to the water at 10:22hrs and the team docked out at 12:00hrs, as planned, after usual routine activities under the rain.

The M2-1 was selected for the session, combined with the J2-1L. Both sails were hoisted just before heading out of the port at 12:20hrs. Possibly these sails configuration had the intention to test the boat´s performance with a smaller sail area than the M1-1 + J2-1 combination, in bottom end wind conditions.

Unstable SSW winds prevailed during the day, moving up and down in intensity, shifting in direction, with lots of clouds´ movements and scattered showers coming into play.

The training started with a tow take-off and a downwind-upwind, in extremely light conditions under six knots of true wind speed. Most of the maneuvers were fully landed and it seemed hard for ARBR to maneuver the AC75 comfortably with the selected configuration.

At 13:10hrs there was a fifteen-minute break in which the technicians got on board, for the first time of many more during the day.

At 13:25hrs the wind intensity had increased to over eight knots of intensity and the session was resumed. The Swiss team set themselves to kick-off the first training race of the day. However, when approaching the starting line from the pin end on port tack to enter the box, the boat was forced to head into the wind and came to a sudden stop. Immediately after, the hydraulics and electronics engineers got onboard together with the boat captain. After working for ten minutes, sailing continued.

At 13:42hrs the first of three training races got underway, with a two-minute pre-start and a two-lap upwind-downwind racecourse with marks, altering the top and gates mark roundings to port and starboard and performing three tacks and gybes per leg on average. Alinghi Red Bull Racing had a late start due to an unfortunate touchdown in one of the maneuvers during the pre-start sequence, and the race was stopped after the leeward gates mark rounding.

At 14:05hrs the technicians got onboard for ten minutes and after their works, sailing was resumed with a straight downwind on starboard tack, possibly to verify the correct functionality of all systems. Then a new stop occurred in which there was a complete four-cyclors rotation, plus a headsail change with the J4-1 coming up in replacement of the legacy J2-1L, as the wind had increased considerably to fifteen knots of intensity.

At 14:50hrs Alinghi Red Bull Racing was back at the racecourse for two more practice races.

The second stint saw the AC75 do some rough gybes and bear-aways during the pre-start, causing a late approach to the starting line. The two-lap course was completed with neat mark roundings and fully foiling maneuvers.

At 15:34hrs after the technicians worked onboard once more, the final stint occurred with ARBR starting in the middle of the line on time, in a dying and unstable breeze, in out-of-range J4-1 conditions. As a consequence, a few of the upwind tacks counted as touch and go. On the second upwind, ARBR continued sailing upwind towards the harbor.

Sails got lowered at 16:00hrs outside the port, and the AC75 reached the base on the tow, docking at 16:35hrs. Twenty-five minutes after it was craned out of the water indicating the end of the day.

[Sebastian Peri Brusa - Recon on ARBR]

Crew:Sailing: Arnaud Psarofaghis, Maxime Bachelin, Nicolas Charbonnier, Bryan Mettraux. Power: F. Noti, N. Theunink. B. Delarze, A. Cevey

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 17 - May 15, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 14° Mostly cloudy
  • Wind Strength 8-15kts
  • Wind Direction: 190°-220°
  • Sea State: 0.6mtrs Slight chop.
  • Crane In: 1022hrs Dock Out: 1200hrs
  • Dock In: 1635hrs Crane out: 1700hrs
  • Takeoff Data: Boatspeed 20kts, Angle 90°, Windspeed 6kts
  • Total Tacks: 28 - Fully foiling: 20; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 6
  • Total Gybes: 23 - Fully foiling: 16; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 4

American Magic - AC75 - Day 5 - May 15, 2024 - Barcelona

American Magic rolled out Patriot at 10:30hrs and craned in at 10:50hrs.

Camera bulbs were added to the top and bottom outboard surfaces of the starboard foil. Jib sheet testing was carried out, followed by a short period of FCS testing. The team docked out at 12:40, hoisted the MN2-1 mainsail and J1-1 jib under the breakwater, with further jib system testing with sails unloaded.

Sailing commenced at 13:15hrs under unstable wind conditions due to the rain storm further upwind.

A short downwind stint ended after the first gybe, which was a touch down. Further work was carried out on the jib sheet system while sailing in displacement mode. Another short downwind of three gybes was sailed, before dropping the J1 jib, with wind increasing and turning right, increasing the offset between wind direction (220°) and the residual swell direction (120°).

After what looked like a bit of trouble hoisting the J3-1 jib, the team were underway again, sailing a short upwind before a long downwind to Badalona. Most of the downwind was sailed on starboard, in the race area, before rounding up and coming to a stop as further issues were encountered. According to Andrew Campbell in the post-sailing interview, a broken part in the jib system which could not be repaired on the water was the cause for ending the sailing day early.

Sails were dropped by 15:05hrs and Patriot was towed back to base from Badalona. The team docked in at 15:35hrs, after three hours on the water, of which 35 minutes was spent sailing. 11 maneuvers were performed, 73% fully foiling.

American Magic - AC75 - Day 5 - May 15, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 6-18 ° Cloudy and intermittent rain
  • Wind Strength: 6-18kts
  • Wind Direction: 190° - 220°
  • Sea State: 0.6-1.0metres from 135°
  • Crane In: Dock Out: 1240hrs
  • Dock In: 1535hrs Crane out: 1635hrs
  • Takeoff Angle TWA: 50°-70° Boatspeed: 18-20kts
  • Total Tacks: 2; Fully Foiling: 2; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0;
  • Total Gybes: 9; Fully Foiling: 6; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 1;

Photos of Interest:

These images were mentioned specifically by the AC37 Joint Recon Teams in their reports, sent to all teams. These draw the teams' attention to new aspects or features of the AC75s which have not been seen previously, or are requested specifically by the teams as part of the Recon process.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing:

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, and 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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