Friday, February 23, 2024
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America’s Cup Teams Push Limits in Ideal Conditions

Shimmering in the heat, the Barcelona cityscape was the perfect backdrop for a perfect day on the water for three America’s Cup teams all pushing hard to find the ‘edges’ and eke performance. Two AC75’s and two AC40’s gave the beachgoers a hell of a spectacle with the Swiss, New Zealand and American teams close to the shore showing devastating speed and power as the Garbi thermal from the south delivered flat water and 10-14 knots of building and fading breeze.

Andrew Campbell, Flight Controller extraordinaire for American Magic summed up a productive session saying: “I think every team feels confident in those conditions, I mean it’s about as easy as it gets in terms of handling, the sails aren’t super loaded, and the boats are going so fast and they’re so light that they’re really easy to sail and fun you know. I think conditions like that when they are easy, it’s time to push the boats really hard and find where the edges are and find where the sensitivities are.”


Docking out into the afternoon sea-breeze build, American Magic had a highly controlled day of two boat foil and aero testing, lining up America and Magic on straight runs on starboard tack to evaluate their newly declared fourth iteration of Foil Wing 03 on America against Magic’s Foil Wing 01. It was a productive four hour session but the team were really looking for windier conditions to push into the testing more with Andrew commenting: “We were trying to get some different conditions today but it turned out today was really similar to yesterday and we were really hoping that we would be able to stretch it out and get some breezier conditions but that kind of Barcelona sea-breeze stayed mellow and we had a lot of 12 to 14 it was about as nice a day of sailing you could ever ask for but we were looking for a little more.”


After one stint, as we have seen on previous days, Andrew Campbell was called upon to climb out onto the raised port foil arm to check the wing and apply what looked like a lubricant product along the outer wing. Talking about it afterwards, he commented: “It’s one of my jobs to go out and make sure everything is kind of working the way we expect it to and there’s little pieces and parts that we want to make sure are still functioning right after a day and if we don’t have time to come in and service them, then we have to give a check on the water. So that’s one of my gigs to go out there and hang and look it over and make sure it’s clean and ready to go again, and that’s all, just making sure it’s up to spec.”


From the recon shots from the dock the new port wing looks to have an interesting foil flap set-up with the outer flap extending beyond the centreline of the bulb and an extended run-off straight off the bulb. Upwind Tom Slingsby and Lucas Calabrese brought on the windward heel/bow down style that they favour and with the settings matched on both boats, the leeway reduction was marked and the gain in height was pronounced. A solid day to conclude the week of testing before the team switch back to one design mode for the upcoming Preliminary Regatta in Vilanova i La Geltrú from the 14-17th September.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Whilst American Magic two-boat tested, Alinghi Red Bull Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand launched their AC75s for a mighty display of power and technique along the beachfront. The Kiwis looked totally controlled in Te Rehutai, with the Flight Controllers maintaining their super-low ride height and windward heel that has the effect of dipping the windward raised foil tips in the water. An interesting observation was made by the on-water recon team who noted: “much less water spray and turbulence coming out from the rudder, possibly related to a less aggressive rudder rake.” And it’s clear that the Kiwis are trying all manner of subtle set-up changes to eke speed from Te Rehutai.

Job Vermeulen / America’s Cup

Once on the virtual racecourse and doing laps, Pete Burling and Nathan Outteridge pushed hard through the manoeuvres, calling for a huge number of tacks and gybes from the power unit whilst they concentrated on low exits downwind and very tight tacks upwind. Hugely impressive as always, the Kiwis clocked in a total of 76 tacks and gybes with a 93% success rate foil-to-foil. Speaking afterwards Pete Burling summed up the day saying: “It was really nice to get the big boat out, Te Rehutai, and we ticked off a few things that have been kind of outstanding questions, and then did a few race laps at the end. It was really productive for us…just playing around with some different setups and making sure stuff lines up with what we have in the tools. Really happy with how things are going but yeah always trying to learn and improve so that’s what we were doing today.”

Job Vermeulen / America’s Cup

Pete will be eyeing a good result in the Preliminary Regatta in Vilanova i La Geltrú and it’s clear that the focus is now starting to shift towards preparations for that: “It’s definitely coming around pretty quick, Vilanova’s a little over two-and-a-half weeks now so it’s yeah really exciting that there will be racing in the not too distant future and you know as a group I think we’ve taken on a lot to get ready for this event, you know a lot of noise and things going on, but for the sailing team it’s really about making sure we do everything we can to get ready in the AC40 and we haven’t actually had a 40 in the venue very long, so it’s going to be a busy few weeks ahead making sure we build up to it well.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Meanwhile Alinghi Red Bull Racing brought the much-modified ‘BoatZero’ out for the afternoon and continued their impressive week of consistent training with the AC75 looking comfortable as the breeze built late in the afternoon. Ride heights were interesting with a super-high mode downwind at times with the foils only just immersed but looking totally under control with Bryan Mettraux and Yves Detrey doing a magnificent control and trim job whilst Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin drove harder and harder – these two are forming a powerful and productive helming partnership and their transitions look smooth and controlled.

Upwind, the team are really dialling into the low-riding style that all the teams favour with a modicum of windward heel and once BoatZero was on a pre-laid course, their helming was accurate and impressive with ‘JK’ moves around the leeward gate, fast round ups on a single board and smooth bear-aways at the top gate. In total, the Swiss put in a mighty 81 tacks and gybes with the recon team noting an uptick of some 15% on previous sessions in successful foil-to-foil gybes. Little by little, the team on the most vertical of learning curves is closing the gap to the teams that competed in AC36 – Vilanova will tell us exactly where Alinghi Red Bull Racing are at in a few weeks’ time.  

On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: ETNZ rolled out their B2 AC75 from the shed at 09.33 am. The boat was craned to the water at 10:08 and the team docked out at 11.05, as planned. The M1 and the J2 were hoisted inside the port at 11:12 and 11:16, respectively.

The intention was to train in light wind conditions before the development of the sea breeze, at least for a part of the session. To begin with, the team sailed against their targets for approximately 45 minutes, mostly on a straight line, both upwind and downwind. Similar to yesterday but different to last week, on the upwinds ETNZ sailed slightly more heeled to windward, with the leeward foil wing closer to the surface and the wing tip coming out of the water 80% of the time or more. On the windward side, the windward foil remained on the limit of touching the water surface, even hitting it at times. However, when comparing to yesterday, there was much less water spray and turbulence coming out from the rudder, possibly related to a less aggressive rudder rake.

At 11:55 there was a short stop to execute some minor adjustments on the clew of the J2. Immediately after, the training continued with the focus on manoeuvres. Many tacks and gybes were carried out. On the gybes and trying to take advantage of the flat-water conditions, ETNZ tested to bear away and change their course slower than usual on the first part of the gybe, when going from VMG downwind course until they got to dead downwind course. As a result, downwind direction distance was noticeably gained, but not sure if it is enough to pay-off in terms of downwind VMG while gybing.

At 13:35 there was a second break, in which the J2 was dropped and replaced by the J3 due to the increase of the wind intensity. Also, a cyclers rotation took place. After performing some extra tacks and gybes with the J3, the wind dropped again for a short period of time, and ETNZ decided to change back again onto their J2 at 14:30.

Before closing the day, three complete starting sequences, starting in between their two chase boats and rounding a virtual top mark, followed by a short two lap upwind-downwind course were executed. On each of the upwind legs they complemented with three to four tacks, and with two to three gybes on the downwinds.

Te Rehutai was sailed back to the entrance of the port, where sails were lowered at 15:20, the boat was back in the dock at 15:35, craned out at 16:10 and back in the shed at 16:40.

The team plans to take the weekend off from sailing, and to continue their activities on Monday next week. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on ETNZ

On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: American Magic rolled their AC40’s from the shed at 10:45h with a new version of their port wing foil AM-LEQ-FW3 #3 v.D as they announced in today’s Component Declaration. They proceeded with the mast stepping procedure and by 12:00h both boats where in the water. The team docked out at 13:00h with the #Main 3 and outside the harbour they hoisted #J2.

Today’s session was planned to continue testing on their foils and aero with higher and different wind conditions but it ended being similar to yesterday’s conditions.

At 13:32h they did six warm up gybes for 4′ and then Magic continued sailing alone.

By 13:53h with 9kts from 180º they both sailed upwind-downwind for 1h05′ doing in total 10 tacks and 18 gybes, standing on their foils on all of them except for one touch-down gybe. They seemed very comfortable and completely under control in these wind and sea state conditions. At 15:12h they changed batteries and America took advantage of checking on their port foil and applying some product. After that, they ended their training lined up with 24 tacks in a 38′ long upwind. At 16:52h they went sailing back to the harbour and sails lowered once inside the port. The team plans to continue their sailing sessions Tuesday next week. Elia Miquel – Recon Unit NYYC AM

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s AC75 was rolled out at 09:15, with mast stepping and craning completed by 09:40. The shore crew measured the distance from the bottom of the bowsprit to the water surface at 980mm. Further work was carried out below deck, with data analysts, IT, electronics and hydraulics all working onboard before pre-sailing systems checks.

The team docked out at 12:00 and hoisted the M2-2R mainsail and J2-2L jib within the port. By 12:40, sailing began just outside the port entrance. The ‘Garbi’ South Thermal Wind

ranged between 7-12 knots, gradually increasing throughout the day, with a few lulls every now and then. The sea state was consistent, with waves from the south measuring 0.4-0.6m and a 3s period.

During the initial stints, the team seemed to focus on system tests and adjustments. The team started with a short reach on starboard, underwent system adjustments, and undertook several upwind and downwind runs in the following stints. Despite short pauses between these sessions, personnel from the hydraulics and electronics departments were identified on board, suggesting work on synchronizing controls and refining close-loop systems.

Pre-start practices and tow-starts featured in the subsequent stints. Cyclors Arthur Cevey and Florian Trüb were swapped in for Théry Schir and Barnabé Delarze at 15:00 for the final hour and a half of sailing.

In the latter two stints, the team completed two-lap runs in of the 2NM course set at 190 degrees. With a minor wind increase, the J2 jib was exchanged for the J3 ahead of the final stint. An impressive ‘JK’ manoeuvre around the starboard leeward gate was performed after the first downwind, and after finishing the second lap, the team sailed a final upwind return to base.

The team concluded the day with sails lowered at 16:35, arriving back at base 20 minutes later. Data from the recon boat showed 58 Nautical Miles covered while following ARBR over five hours on the water, with 160 minutes dedicated to sailing. The AC75 completed 81 tacks and gybes, marking its highest single-day count. Of these, 80% were fully foiling, with gybes 15% more consistent, amounting to an average of 30 moves per hour.




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