Thursday, February 22, 2024
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America’s Cup Teams Revel in Ideal Training Conditions

With the last of the easterly swell still playing out across the Barcelona America’s Cup racecourse, it was a busy waterway with the New Zealanders, Italians, Americans and British all testing and training throughout the afternoon as the breeze built steadily from 6-8 knots around midday to 12 knots by 3pm. Perfect conditions for the teams who are all revelling in the near-perfect conditions that Barcelona has been serving up lately.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

d recon on the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli AC40 one-design programme with Jimmy Spithill onboard and he gave a terrific interview after sailing, commenting on the swell and sea-state, saying: “I think it’s really just getting used to the conditions. I mean the thing I’ve noticed, and I haven’t done a lot of time here, is just how affected it is by ocean swell and waves. I mean today is a classic example if you go quite a bit further north up the coast there’s a really big mistral blowing and Barcelona just sort of gets the remnants from either what’s happening north or what’s happening to the south, so you get a lot of cross axis waves, and it makes it really interesting. It seems like no day is the same every time you come out…and it changes quickly.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Out on the water, Jimmy Spithill joined up with AC36 co-helm Francesco Bruni and the two put on an effortless display of super-low riding and a fabulous technique through the tacks where they induce windward heel on the new windward side immediately post turn. It’s a flat tack that keeps the boat low and the power-on and was devastatingly effective in anything above 10 knots. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli arguably had the best winter testing of all the challengers and the consistent and highly experienced Flight Control team of Umberto Molineris and Andrea Tesei continue to impress either on the LEQ12 or the AC40. One to watch in Vilanova.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

For the Italian team it’s clear though that their focus is on designing and building a super-fast AC75 capable of really taking the fight to Emirates Team New Zealand should they be successful in the Challenger Selection Series and Jimmy is fully dialled into that process saying: “At the end of the day it really is about designing a fast AC75 so that that’s been the focus for us… I think, look, at this stage it’s showing that it’s not sort of one condition, you can get a lot of anything you know you can have the waves with wind, or you have it quite light with an off-axis sea-way so yeah look at this stage it’s just about getting some time in on the track.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

 The Italians have been training hard in the AC40 recently but Jimmy, a seasoned America’s Cup winner, is interestingly positioning the programme in catch-up mode ahead of the first Preliminary Regatta in Vilanova i La Geltru from the 14th-17th September, saying: “We’re looking forward to the session coming up in the LEQ12 (in Cagliari) and I mean right now the focus is just trying to get some time on the one design 40 and you know quite a lot of the other teams have spent quite a bit of time on those boats so I guess between ourselves and the French we’ve got a bit of  catching up to do.” We shall see. On today’s form, they will be right in the hunt for the podium.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

The Challenger of Record, INEOS Britannia, opted for a short, mast-less tow-test session on T6 this afternoon with the team revealing an interesting new piece of technology on their rudder. Training off the aft edge is a slender bulb arrangement, presumably to aid flow and attachment, and the team took T6 out of the harbour after a delay to connect with the Mission Control centres at their Barcelona base and back in Brackley at Mercedes Applied Science.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

This is an interesting direction as elsewhere we’ve seen the rudders getting slenderer and more refined with gull-like forms, so for the British, who are heavily into data and analysis, could this be something that translates up to the boat they have codenamed ‘RB3’ – their AC75? The team undertook a controlled tow lasting some 50 minutes today at varying speeds and in different mode states. Valuable day for the British who will now next sail on Monday, weather permitting.


NYYC American Magic meanwhile brought both of their modified AC40s out for what was looking like being a perfect day for two-boat testing, but undisclosed systems/gear failure saw breakdowns on both ‘America’ and ‘Magic’ that meant the team could only complete around 40 minutes of two-boating out of a five-hour on-water session. However, the silver-lining for the Americans was some absolutely thrilling pre-start and short course action when they did get to the racing with ‘Magic’ winning two out of three starts but ‘America’ showing superb straight-line speed and flight control coming through to win.


Paul Goodison, the most informative Cup interviewee, saw huge positives from the day saying: “Yeah, we had a few issues with both boats. It felt like the one boat was going fine and then the other boat had a little problem getting something fixed and then as soon as that boat got fixed we got up and going and then obviously that wasn’t quite right the other so a little bit of a stop/start kind of day but we got some good pre-starts in, a bit of action and some really nice sailing towards the end of the day.”


Paul also commented on the new custom J2 jibs that both boats were running today saying: “So we have two custom jibs, one on each boat today and obviously looking at some different shapes, some different sheeting angles and just how the sails set up slightly different. They went through a full range, we probably changed onto the J2’s a little bit early, they were a little bit under range with the lighter breeze than the wind speeds recorded so it was a bit of a struggle but interesting to see how different designs are setting up. And then as we went later on in the day, the breeze came up, and we should probably been on the J3 but good to see the same sails up-range to see if we preferred one in the strong breeze and one in a lighter range so good day really for the aero stuff.”

And talking through the ventilations that occurred on ‘Magic’ today, Paul gave a positive explanation saying: “We’ve got two different foils and we’re testing them on a bit more race testing at the moment, trying different settings, and if you push the limits of it too far some of them are a bit more tolerant, other boards are a bit less forgiving so we were finding the edge a couple of times today but again just great learning. So, we had a good day hydro wise learning this stuff.”

NYYC American Magic finally had windows in their one-design mainsails today and Paul very much saw the opportunity saying: “Really interesting sailing with the windows today especially with the pre-start it means you can see the other boat at times but again at times it feels like the windows aren’t quite low enough so there’s a lot of blind spots but it’s really good to work on the communication knowing that when one guy’s communicating where the other boat is, changing over helmsmen at different points of the pre-start depending on how close the boats are and who can see so really good learning.”

Job Vermeulen / America’s Cup

Emirates Team New Zealand continued their relentless race-training schedule in Te Rehutai, the Cup-winning AC75, with another stellar performance from the team executing pre-starts and short upwind/downwind courses before repeating. These sessions are getting more intense and today we even saw port tack starts alongside plenty of stalling techniques with the windward board and fast accelerations off the line.

Job Vermeulen / America’s Cup

Marius Van Der Pol, one of the super-fit cyclors who transferred over from competitive rowing described the day and gave an insight into the cyclor’s regimen, saying: “Yes so, we got out there today, good breeze with like 9-13 knots and just hooked into a bit of race laps. For myself I jumped on for the second-half of the day and we got a few good pre-starts in and a few race laps…we’re typically going about 30 minutes have a break for about 5 minutes just to cool down a little bit, get the body temperature under control, a bit of a water onboard, and then jump back on for another half hour before doing a complete swap with the remainder of the cyclors.”

Job Vermeulen / America’s Cup

And with regards the efforts required in the pre-start manoeuvring, especially in the heat that topped out at 27 degrees today on the water, Marius commented: “It just varies how the boys are sailing. It really depends on what the wind’s doing as well but yes, typically the pre-starts are always a pretty taxing effort.”

Emirates Team New Zealand executed some 48 tacks and gybes on the racecourses today plus many more in the pre-starts with a 94% foil-to-foil accuracy that will have the coaches more than happy. A great end to a week that has been a very solid and at times, testing, block and the team will now be switching into the One-Design AC40 next week to dial in their preparation for the Vilanova i La Geltrú Preliminary Regatta that is looming large on the immediate horizon.

Job Vermeulen / America’s Cup

On-Water Recon Unit Notes – INEOS Britannia: INEOS Britannia went tow-testing today aboard their LEQ12 in 10-11 knot southerly breezes and a 0.5 metre choppy sea state. After a delay to the scheduled rollout time of 0930 the boat was rolled out at 1130 sporting a modification to the t-foil rudder in the form of an aft pointing bulb.

The boat was craned into the water at 1145 and following some pre-sail checks the team left the dock at 1230. On board were helmsmen Leigh McMillan (port) and Dylan Fletcher-Scott (starboard) and flight controllers Luke Parkinson (starboard) and Iain Jensen (port). having transferred from a side tow to a bow tow, before reaching the end of the breakwater the boats stopped for a little over 50 minutes – presumably waiting for the green light from the team’s design group in the UK.

At 1400 the boat left the harbour and set off on a tow session along the Barcelona coast. Speeds started off slow at around 12-15 knots and the crew kept the boat in displacement mode. After 10 minutes or so the speed increased to 18-20 knots with the boat in low foiling mode with the bustle skimming the surface and the bigger waves hitting the hull. After half an hour of this a 180 turn was made and the boat continued the tow session in the opposite direction. Speeds varied on this return leg between 18 and 26 knots. The boat returned to harbour at 1450 and returned to the dock at 1505. No sailing is scheduled for the weekend with the next available sailing day being Monday August 7.

On Water Recon Unit Notes – NYYC American Magic: Very slow day for NYAM today as they’ve just achieved 40 minutes of boat-on-boat proper racing drills out of a 5h session on the water. Most of the time we saw one boat stopped on the water with undisclosed issues while the other boat was waiting nearby. Roll outs for both AC40_Modified were @9:45h with apparently the same foil configurations as lately (America stb silver foil with white flaps and 3 fences on foil arm, Magic with stb silver foil with white tips and 1 single fence on foil arm, One Design set-up on port foils).

Dock out was @11:56 with Severin Gramm, Harry Melges, Paul Goodison and Riley Gibbs on ‘America’ and Tom Slingsby, Lucas Calabrese, Andrew Campbell, Michael Menninger on ‘Magic.’ They hoisted mainsail MN-2 on Magic and MN-3 on America that finally feature a window at the foot, a window that might need to be lowered according to Paul Goodison during the interview.

They got out of the port @12:10h and hoisted Jib#1 as the wind was blowing at 6-8kt @190º and a sea state of 3 already (wind chop of 0.6m, 3.3” @190º and 1m swell, 7” @100º). They initially attempted some warmup drills but never managed to have both boats sailing together simultaneously as there was always one of them stopped with the support boat tied alongside resolving some issues.

By 13:55h they switched to Jibs#3 as the wind had increased lightly with gusts of 12kt from the same direction. They laid a windward and a leeward gate and @13:57h they finally sailed a proper 1 lap race with tight prestart drills that lasted 26’ overall. In this race Magic won the start but it was America who crossed the finish line first as Magic ventilated on the run to a complete stop. They started a second 1 lap race @14:55h that lasted 13’ and was easily won by America because Magic ventilated again shortly after their good start which allowed America to cover them from then on. A last 1 lap 14’ race was sailed @15:25h with Magic winning the start again but we saw America first at the weather gate and all the way down to the finish. Magic went back to port @15:46h to finish her session while America changed the batteries and sailed on her own until 16:49h to dock in @17:05h. Lea Sitjà, Recon Unit NYAM.

On-Water Recon Unit Notes – Emirates Team New Zealand: ETNZ rolled out their B2 AC75 from the shed at 11.33 am. The boat was craned to the water at 12:05 and the team docked out at 13.30, after a thirty-minute delay. No specific reasons or related actions could be identified. The M2 and the J2 were hoisted inside the port at 13:36 and 13:40, respectively.

Today´s training consisted of a short warm up doing some manoeuvres very close to the beach, for not more than ten minutes; before running short races all day long. Complete starting sequences, followed by a short two-lap upwind-downwind course was the proposal for the day, starting in between their two chase boats and rounding a virtual top mark. On the downwind legs, the chase boats were used as gate marks. On each of the upwind legs they complemented with two to four tacks, and with two to three gybes on the downwinds.

During the pre-starts, different manoeuvres were executed in the pre-start box. Also, there was an interesting variation of final approaches towards the line. Sometimes starting on starboard tack, and on other opportunities on port. They also varied their positioning and actions, sometimes burning time close to the line and in other starts approaching the line faster from further away on closed-hauled course. Please, refer to the videos for further details.

During the final approach, ETNZ seemed to be playing a lot with the windward arm. Bringing it down when they were too early to the line, to slow down and burn time; and then lifting it up when ready to accelerate and do the final approach to start.

At 14:20 the J2 was replaced by the J3. Immediately after, the training continued with the same format.

ETNZ did in total 26 tacks and 21 gybes, standing on their foils on all of them, except for one tack and two gybes. Their boat handling and manoeuvring in these conditions seems to be very comfortable and completely under control.

Sails were lowered at 16:10 once inside the port, the boat was back in the dock at 16:20, craned out at 17:08 and back in the shed at 17:35. The team plans to continue their sailing sessions next Monday on their AC40. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on ETNZ




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