The flight control gremlins crept into Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s session on Friday afternoon out in Barcelona and although a nosedive at high-speed downwind and a ripped jib was the result, the crash was telegraphed from almost the off.
Running two different foil profiles on the AC75 with the Emirates Team New Zealand flat foil on starboard and the anhedral NYYC American Magic foil on port, has been a challenge for the Swiss since BoatZero was launched. Both have very different characteristics on the exit of either a tack or a gybe and with BoatZero being very much a bow-down trim seeker since the cockpit modifications, there’s a big wrestling match going on for the Flight Controllers to keep her flying and maintain rudder immersion.
In the early part of the session, BoatZero was bow-dipping through almost every tack and then downwind, especially when transitioning from the anhedral port foil to the flat starboard foil, the tendency for the boat to rise and then the bow to dip was pronounced. Preceding the nosedive, several gybes were caught on camera and the rudder – which is the legacy American Magic rudder due to the fact that the ETNZ rudder is still in the repair shop after the rudder tower structural failure at the end of March – was dicing oh so close with breaking the surface.
The Swiss got away with it for a while but on their sixth gybe of the day, going from starboard gybe to port gybe, the inevitable happened and immediately after exit, BoatZero flew just a smidgen too high on the ETNZ foil and as the bow came down, the rudder broke the surface, all grip was lost and the sailors were mere passengers into a nosedive crash. The J3 jib ripped through impact just aft of the tack and tore pretty much up to the level of immersion as BoatZero came to a stop and corkscrewed up into wind, broaching, with the crew doing a great job to stop any potential for capsize.
Unfortunately, one cyclor, Nico Stahlberg, was injured in the nosedive and was quickly transferred back to base with minor injuries and Nicolas Rolaz, the newly promoted member of the Alinghi Red Bull Racing Driving Group, jumped onboard and took over in the port aft cyclor pod for the remainder of the session. The sacrificial wind wand was collected by the recon team, floating in the water, and after the tech team had jumped on and checked through everything (and also fitting a replacement wind wand in double-quick time), BoatZero was back and flying but far more cautiously than the early part of the session.
An afternoon of two halves, with the J4 set, the balance of the boat evened out as the wind built to 12-14 knots and Maxime Bachelin and Nicolas Charbonnier put BoatZero impressively around a laid course with Yves Detrey and Bryan Mettraux keeping flight low and controlled both upwind and downwind with the bow clear. A huge improvement on the pre-nosedive antics and Alinghi Red Bull racing completed an entertaining and productive day of training that saw some 38 manoeuvres with a 78% success rate of foil-to-foil or touch & go being recorded.
Speaking about the nosedive afterwards, Bryan Mettraux was matter-of-fact in his assessment saying: “Yeah, so we were exiting of a gybe and just flying too high at the exit and we lost the rudder so the boat go down really quickly and, yeah, we had one of our grinders that is a bit injured but the news (about him) is pretty good… I think all the crew did a good job then to make him in a safe position.”
The tightrope between on and off in the AC75 and the difficulties of running alternate and vastly different foil profiles at full scale was acutely shown today in Barcelona. Alinghi Red Bull Racing bounced back quickly though, changed the dynamic profile and pitch and put in a solid day on the water of some five hours and over 50 nautical miles covered. No sailing this weekend, the Swiss will be back at it next week.
On-Water Recon Unit Notes: Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC75 at 08:45, stepped the rig and craned in. It was immediately noticed that a transparent deflector was added to the port cockpit. The modification to the hull was declared in the Component Tracking Record at the time of writing. This is presumably for the ‘guest seat’, however this was not added to the starboard side.
Another day of ‘Garbi’ thermal wind; starting at around 9 knots and peaking at 14 knots. The sea-state was relatively flat, with a slight chop towards the end of the session. The yacht was towed North toward the Forum, where sailing commenced at 12:30, with the M2-2L ETNZ Legacy mainsail and J3-1R jib.
The team sailed five stints, warming up with a tack to bear away and downwind to upwind, then a long downwind to Masnou. On the exit of the sixth gybe, the yacht lifted up high and nosedived, tearing the J3 jib from the foot about the tack. A minor injury was sustained by a cyclor, and following safety procedures, was safely returned to base via Chase Alpha. A battery change was carried out, Nico Rolaz moved into the cyclor pod and the J4-1R was hoisted for sailing to resume sailing just under an hour after the incident. The team sailed upwind towards the 1.5NM windward/leeward course (no gates), and drilled manoeuvres and mark roundings for the remainder of the day.
An eventful day, and despite the setbacks, ARBR were able to have their most productive day sailing on the AC75 in the last three weeks. 38 tacks/gybes were attempted, 68% fully foiling. The recon boat covered 51NM over four and a half hours on the water. No sailing over the weekend.
Driving Group: Nicolas Charbonnier / Maxime Bachelin
Flight Control: Bryan Mettraux / Nicolas Rolaz / Yves Detrey
Power Group: Augustin Maillefer / Nico Stahlberg / Barnabé Delarze
Notes: Bryan Mettraux substituted with Nicolas Rolaz after nosedive, Nico Stahlberg replaced in cyclor pod by Nicolas Rolaz.
Conditions: ‘Garbi’ – Thermal Wind – 8-11kn S @12:30 , 10-12kn S @ 14:00 , 12-14kn S @ 15:00
Weather AM: 17°C, Intermittent Clouds.
Weather PM: 18°C, Intermittent Clouds.
Sea State AM: Beaufort 2
Sea State PM: Beaufort 3-4
Mainsail M2 (21-2L): 4 hours
Jib (J3-1R): 1 hour 20 minutes
Jib (J4-1R): 1 hour 35 minutes
Total Tacks: 19 – 14 foil-to-foil, 2 touch & go, 3 touchdowns.
Total Gybes: 19 – 12 foil-to-foil, 2 touch & go, 5 touchdowns.
Take-Off speed: 18 knots @ 90° TWA (True Wind Angle)
12:30 – 12:40 – Setting up
12:40 – 13:00 Sailing (3 Tacks – Fully Foiling, 2 Tacks – Touch & Go, 1 Tack – Touch Down, 3 Gybes – Fully Foiling)
13:10 – 13:15 Sailing (5 Gybes – Fully Foiling, 1 Gybe – Touch Down)
14:10 – 14:35 Sailing (6 Tacks – Fully Foiling, 1 Tack – Touch Down, 1 Gybe – Fully Foiling, 2 Gybes – Touch Down)
14:45 – 15:00 Sailing (2 Tacks – Fully Foiling, 2 Gybes – Fully Foiling, 1 Gybe – Touch Down)
15:10 – 15:35 Sailing (3 Tacks – Fully Foiling, 1 Tack – Touch Down, 1 Gybe – Fully Foiling, 2 Gybes – Touch & Go, 1 Gybe – Touch Down)
Dock-Out: 1135 Dock-In: 1615
ALEX CARABI / AMERICA’S CUP
ALEX CARABI / AMERICA’S CUP
ALEX CARABI / AMERICA’S CUP