A rapid turn-around from delivery to on the water by the Emirates Team New Zealand shore crew was rewarded with a perfect day of building southerly breeze in Barcelona and the persistent easterly-flowing chop and swell that gained momentum into the afternoon and produced some of the most testing conditions that the America’s Cup venue can serve.
‘Te Kãkahi’, the New Zealand pure one design AC40 launched into the team’s pen and docked out just after midday with the sailing team were keen to get on the water to commission the yacht ahead of the expected swell build. Once out into the open waters and free from the Port Vell entrance, it was straight down to business with easy flight before a batten issue on the jib after about 10 minutes of sailing saw the team come back into the shelter of the harbour to fix the issue.
Nathan Outteridge described it saying: “Some of the battens weren’t sitting perfectly on the forestay on the jib so we did like an initial commissioning lap and we normally want to stop after five or 10 minutes just to check the whole system so it’s a bit bumpy out there for the 40s to bring a chase boat alongside so we just sailed back in and yeah went jib up and down and fixed that problem and then had a full look through the boat, everything was running fine so then yeah we went back out and for another hour or so of sailing.”
Nathan went on to describe the day, saying: “It was one of those perfect days in Barcelona where the breeze built quite quickly and we’ve seen the other guys outside in their 40s here and today was our first day in the AC40 itself, it only got here a couple of days ago, so for the team to turn it around so quickly to get it ready for today was awesome, and as you can see it’s quite different to the AC75 but we had a lot of fun sailing it today.”
After a while of settling down, it was interesting to watch the tacks as they got faster and flatter with almost immediate windward heel post manoeuvre. The way all the teams are honing their techniques in this final run to the America’s Cup is where big performance difference will be found, and the Kiwis certainly look like they’re working hard with the coaches and analysts to deliver to the optimum.
How that programme looks now that Emirates Team New Zealand has both the AC75 and AC40 in commission is most likely going to be weather dependent as Nathan alluded: “Now we’re in a position where we can take either boat out sailing and we have a reasonable list of things we want to learn more up here in Barcelona – some of it’s on the little boat some of it’s on the big boat and of course the 40s will be eventually racing altogether next month so we just sort of look at the priorities for the day, look at the forecast and make a plan from there.” A solid short blast for the Kiwis today.
Whilst the Kiwis docked-in ahead of the swell building, it was a very different story for INEOS Britannia today who looked absolutely on it all afternoon in T6 with an almost demonstration of big wave, big breeze sailing by Sir Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott. With the southerly breeze and a full-on easterly swell, watching ‘T6’ on starboard tack from bow-on (see the video) was a lesson in swell sailing and fascinating to watch some of the best foiling sailors on the planet aggressively steer through the chop. All afternoon, Ben & Giles had ‘T6’ absolutely flying and seemed completely un-fazed by the conditions. Bleddyn Mon and Iain Jensen again showed why they are so highly regarded in Cup circles with a full display of modes going with ease from desperately low, and one would suspect safer, flight into bow up/stern down and some hair-raising high flight downwind. It was a relentless session that will have boosted confidence not only in the sailor’s technique development but in ‘T6’ as a boat and the use of the J5 jib – seen only once previously in Palma in mid-winter – really lit the afterburners and will have provided some excellent data for the team going forward. Sensational stuff from the Brits.
Speaking afterwards, Ben Ainslie commented on the fine balancing act that the sailors perform in the top-end conditions on foiling boats saying: “Well it’s the challenge that everyone is finding and expectedly so in the sea state. It’s very hard to get really accurate flight control so where’s the sweet spot there between having too much immersion and slowing the boat down but not falling off the foil? And again, the control systems come into that a little bit, the sailor technique, just time on the water getting used to the sea state out here and trying to do a better job on that, and of course the design of the hull and the foils so there’s a lot that goes into performance in these conditions and for sure plenty of performance is still on the table I would say.”
When pushed about low flight over high flight Ben commented: “In terms of the foil interaction if it starts getting too much piercing in the sea state it can get difficult that said if you dig the hull in too much going to slow down as well so it’s finding that happy sweet spot, that middle ground where you feel like you’ve got enough control with the foil but you’re not digging the hull in so yeah again that’s what all of the teams no doubt are trying to find the optimum.”
Speaking more broadly about the INEOS Britannia team settling now at what will be their base through to the start of the 37th America’s Cup, Ben was full of praise for what’s been achieved so far saying: “It’s really great to be here in Barcelona, to have the teams here as well of course it just adds a little sense of excitement really. Okay we’ve still got 12 months until the event but just to have everyone out here racing on the same patch of water or training on the same patch of water it’s going to be great. I think this time next year Barcelona is going to be an incredible event so as a team we’re very happy to be here and excited, we’ve got a good facility, the team have done a really good job getting that together and it will be a fantastic base over the next 12 months.”
Whilst the Brits were flying, it was a different story for Alinghi Red Bull Racing who were actually out on the water for some five hours this afternoon in their AC75 ‘BoatZero’ but only managed to get sailing for approximately an hour as technical issues dogged their session. The Recon Team believe that a new (or re-conditioned) mast has been set alongside a new mainsail – the M2-2R – with aggressive battening along the foot that curves upwards to the clew point and certainly looks effective in controlling the leech. Paired with initially the J3-1R jib, as the wind built and the waveforms increased, the Swiss changed down to the little-used J6-1L which offered a bit more forgiveness.
When the team did get sailing, it was a thrilling session in tough conditions and as Barnabé Delarze commented: “Yeah back on the water after a long time out so there were some issues we had to fix so it was a bit of a waiting game but we managed to get some decent laps towards the end.”
Those ‘laps’ were high intensity with the afterguard of helmsmen Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin and Flight Controllers Bryan Mettraux and Yves Detrey battling to keep the boat’s bow down tendencies under control with some dramatic, but to be expected, splashdowns in the swell but looking at their manoeuvres, there were crisp and powerful flicks through the tacks with immediate windward heel and some fully committed gybes that produced an overall foil-to-foil ratio of an impressive 80%.
The Swiss were sailing well in the conditions and would have come off the water wanting more. Dean Barker, Sailing Team Adviser, was onboard ‘BoatZero’ whilst Phil Robertson was on the Chase Boat observing and, in those conditions, they would have been pleased with what they saw. More to come from the Swiss this week.
On-Water Recon Unit Notes – Emirates Team New Zealand: ETNZ rolled out their AC40 ‘Te Kãkahi’ for the first time in Barcelona from the shed at 10.45 am. The boat was craned to the water at 11:15 and the team docked out at 12.15. The main and the J3 were hoisted inside the port at 12:25 and 12:35, respectively, and were used for the entire day. No sail changes were performed. After sailing for twenty minutes, Te Kãkahi was sailed back into the harbour to make some minor adjustments in sheltered waters. Ten minutes afterwards at 13:15, the training continued.
Today´s session was a short one that consisted mainly of verifying that all systems, components and parts were fully operational and working properly, after rigging the boat for the first time since it was shipped from Auckland. No issues were noticed, and the training was carried out without any problem. ETNZ combined sailing in a straight line upwind and downwind with some tacks and gybes. At the end of the day, the team sailed for one-hour and forty-five minutes net time approximately, not considering the stops for adjustments and communications. They did 16 tacks and 13 gybes, all fully foiling except for touching and going on two tacks and one gybe. When talking about the sailing conditions, a classic summer southerly Garbi sea breeze prevailed today, increasing in intensity very quickly during the day and shifting to the right in direction as usual. Average 12 to 16 knots and shifting from 165 to 195 during the day; combined with a 0,73m average sea state from the ESE. Sails were lowered at 14:38 once inside the port, the boat was back in the dock at 14:45, craned out at 15:05 and back in the shed at 15:38.
A very good first day for the AC40 selected by the defender of the 37th America´s Cup to be used for racing in the upcoming preliminary regatta in Vilanova i la Geltrú, in September.
Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on ETNZ
On-Water Recon Unit Notes – INEOS Britannia: INEOS Britannia started their second week of sailing in Barcelona with a fast and furious four-hour afternoon session in a full-throated southerly sea breeze that ranged from the low to high teens. The accompanying sea state – made up of a short period steep chop of up to 0.75 metres – made life difficult at times for the British crew (helmsmen Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott – who took turns on the port and starboard wheels – and trimmers / flight controllers Bleddyn Mon and Iain Jensen, plus Ben Cornish in the fifth man role) who needed find the sweet spot between flying too high and becoming unstable or flying too low and being slowed by the waves. It made for exciting watching, with the British LEQ12 hurtling downwind at speeds estimated to be in the high 30 knot range, with the downwind speeds estimated to be in the low thirties. Tacks and gybes were more polished than the previous windy session last week, but there were, nevertheless, a number of big splash downs – mainly spotted upwind.
The team left the harbour with sails up (M2-2 mainsail and J4-1 headsail) at 1415 and after an hour of high speed windward leeward sailing along the Barcelona seafront they returned to the harbour entrance – where a slow downwind turn saw them come perilously close to capsizing – for a short stop to change batteries and swap to the J5-1 headsail (only used once previously in Palma in the depths of winter). From our observations the boat looked more under control with the smaller headsail and appeared slightly quicker downwind. The sailors appeared to be experimenting with flight heights upwind and when in low mode, other than the speed it was hard to see if the boat was foiling as it smashed through waves like a displacement yacht.
The second session – more upwind downwind laps lasted an hour with the boat back in the harbour to drop sails at 1640. Dock in was at 1700 For the record, the team were sailing without the rudder bulb seen on the t-foil during tow testing on Friday August 4. No other alterations were observed. Another sailing day has been scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday August 8).
On-Water Recon Unit Notes – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC75 at 09:00. It was immediately noticed that the team prepared a new mast (or heavily modified, tbc) for the day’s sailing. The updated mast showcased several notable differences from its predecessor. These included a new structural layup at the base, the addition of access holes in the flat section between the skin tracks, and trim markings at the base by the Cunningham.
Five individual batteries and what appeared to be an additional larger battery pack were carried onto chase Alpha. Phil Robertson was back at the base and was on a chase boat for the day, while Dean Barker was on board the race yacht. Also onboard the AC75 for the day was Yves Courvoisier, Research & Development engineer, suggesting possible new innovations being tested.
The allocated recon spot was more than 25m from the mast base and we did not have an unobstructed view, however this is subject to change as the team are still figuring out their
workflow from the new base. After a prolonged period of setup with many of the teams crew on board, the yacht docked out at 12:05. The J3-1R was hoisted along with the new M2-2R mainsail, noteworthy due to its similar construction and batten arrangement to the LEQ mainsails seen previously on the AC40, with directional reinforcement along the luff and diagonal battens in the head of the sail.
Throughout the day, the ‘Garbi’ afternoon thermal South wind grew from 10 knots to 20+ knots. The sea state consisted of a residual East swell caused by the Mistral further offshore,
ranging between 0.9-1.4m with a period of 7 seconds, combined with an aggressive chop from the strong thermal wind.
The first stint of sailing was short and bumpy, interrupted by short pauses to sort out initial adjustments and issues. The team took an almost 2 hours pause to deal with systems issues on board, with technicians focusing particularly at the traveller area. Sailing resumed and stint 2 lasted for approximately 25 minutes, with sailing upwind followed by a downwind, before stopping for another 40 minutes to attend to issues on board.
The third and final stint involved a short upwind and a tack, before bearing away to sail a long downwind towards the forum, and then back upwind, ending the sailing day near the W Hotel. Sails were dropped and the yacht was back at base by 18:00.
The team covered 38 nautical miles over nearly six hours, with only 55 minutes actively spent sailing. A total of 25 manoeuvres were performed, with 80% being fully foiling.
JOB VERMEULEN / AMERICA’S CUP
UGO FONOLLÁ / AMERICA’S CUP
ALEX CARABI / AMERICA’S CUP