Whilst all eyes have been on the launch and first sailing sessions of the Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC40 in recent days, the shore team and designers have been busy making radical modifications to the team’s AC75 BoatZero. Despite electing not to sail today, the team rolled out and launched the old ‘Te Aihe’ of Emirates Team New Zealand and revealed a whole load of thinking and new technology that has been sitting on Marcelino Botin’s super-computer for the last few months.
Without seeing the team sailing, exact crew positions and roles are hard to pin-point, but it would seem likely perhaps that four cyclors will be placed in the four inboard pod positions nearest to centreline to keep the drivetrain centralised whilst perhaps two trimmers/flight controllers are placed in the outboard pods either side – whether those trimmers/FC’s have any power input remains an unknown. The helm positions either side, may well have stayed in the same position or possibly slightly forward but the overall effect is that this boat has the capacity to be sailed by eight sailors, as per the rules governing the new build AC75s that will be sailed in the 2024 America’s Cup.
Whether the team actually sail initially with just eight crewmembers is something we will find out after the first sail which is hopefully going to be on Thursday this week, but the recon unit noted that there was plenty of space onboard to carry additional personnel – perhaps the team will keep running with a coach onboard either side aft of the helmsmen initially? We just don’t know until we see the team sailing.
Today the shore team opted to launch and run through a heap of systems test on this highly technical boat before taking her back into the shed. The team have a large block of sailing sessions available and declared in the schedule through March but no confirmation yet on when the first sail will take place and all eyes will be on the weather as the team will want the residual swell from the recent poor weather to subside before testing BoatZero properly.
What we can say with absolute certainty though, is that Alinghi Red Bull Racing has just ratcheted up the design race at full scale in their quest to win the America’s Cup. We wait with bated breath to see the team sail with the new configuration on the next available sailing day.
It’s all happening in Barcelona.