The shadows may be getting longer and the days shorter, but it was as close to perfection in Barcelona as could be imagined today with flat waters and a building breeze through to sunset that gave three teams the most incredible playground to test, learn and familiarise on.
NYYC American Magic went for a full-on aero testing day with both ‘America’ and ‘Magic’ on the water and the crews relentlessly swapping in and out of each boat, building and spreading knowledge across the team and taking advantage of everyone’s skill-set. This was team training from the top drawer with the ever-twitchy but dynamite fast ‘America’ requiring trim settings from side-to-side that would take a PhD Physics graduate. But this team sticks at it and today’s flight built on yesterday’s confidence hit and there’s consistency arriving in abundance – especially as the wind built to above 20 knots by the close of their session.
‘America’ is a weapon in breeze when riding the starboard skinny foil – of that there’s no doubt – but as it eases the trimmers are using pre-set jib twists on a combination of track, jib cunningham and sheet tension to keep the power on and use the foil effectively. The recon team on the water reported: “America was faster and higher on the upwinds and lower and faster on the runs. No matter if they were to windward, to leeward, to the left, to the right or even starting in tricky positions. America was consistently faster and with better angles than Magic, all the time.”
Paul Goodison, one of the elite helms in this America’s Cup cycles and a three time International Moth World Champion, gave a terrific assessment of what American Magic are working on, saying afterwards: “The foils are different areas, and so you need different hydro settings to manage the different areas of the foils and some of this brings instability in certain wind ranges when you going certain speeds there’s a difference in stability but when you’re at different speeds and the hydro settings are a little different it becomes comes quite unstable…on a lot of this stuff today, the settings were pre-given so we’re just rolling through an aero matrix to get the difference in shots (photos) and a lot of this is associated with different leeways, different boat speeds, sails, different tacks, we’re having different sail shots and trying to come to different conclusions tack to tack.”
Unfortunately, ‘Magic’ which has been converted from its winning ways at the Vilanova Preliminary Regatta into a testing platform with new controls and different foils, had to retire early again as the team work through a bunch of gremlins with that boat. Paul gave a brief explanation of the boat’s troubles saying: “Once we’re sailing with our own foils and using our own way to control the boat it’s a lot more complicated than the one-design, so it comes with its inherent issues, but I think the problem we had the previous days is more of a physical part in the boat whereas today I’m not sure because I wasn’t on that boat.”
Talking through the session and the goals for the day, Paul added: “It was a big aero testing day. A lot of it comes from the feel of the boats and that’s why we’re at time switching boats so that people could get a feel for one boat and then the other. Obviously, the foils make a difference but the biggest focus for us today was on the aero side, getting a feel for the different jibs, the different setups aero wise and also the different mains and trying to figure out where the crossovers are there. You see the small main stuffs a little bit in the light wind but then as soon as the breeze gets in that top-end range it feels a really nice controllable sail to use.”
Another outstanding day for American Magic who have kept the pressure on since Vilanova and are looking very much the real deal all round.
Also taking full advantage of the perfect conditions in Barcelona was Emirates Team New Zealand who declared use of a ‘new’ rudder for ‘Te Rehutai’ which is actually one of the rudders they trialled before the last America’s Cup with a bit more angle at the ankle and more beefed-up wings over the slenderer design they went with in their AC36 final raceboat configuration.
Ask a helmsman if they can feel a difference on the rudder and universally the answer is “no, not really” and that was the stock response after sailing from Pete Burling, one of the true engineering talents of the current elite helms and more likely the answer lies in the myriad data that beams back to the Chase Boats for the analysts to pore over. Again today, the Kiwis excelled in the breeze going through a similar format of high-speed windward/leeward runs before a virtual course was set and laps executed. Looking at the set-up, there’s clearly a lot of aero work going in with the control of the leech of the mainsail which is most pronounced offwind with the head flicking accurately to keep the power on. Tacks were super low as usual to align with the preferred ride height upwind whilst downwind, the gybes were low-angled on the exit with plenty of horsepower to push the max VMG numbers.
Speaking afterwards, Pete Burling could see real value in the past three days of sailing the AC75 saying: “A really nice day out there again today, the kind of mid-teens and flat water it’s kind of weird we don’t have many days like that here so the last couple days have been about getting back in the AC75, getting comfortable on the big boat again and we’re obviously coming into the Cup period so it’s really nice to see the how it’s actually going to unfold next year (weather wise)…it’s been a really successful week we obviously changed a bit of stuff over the break when we were sailing the AC40 over there in Vilanova and then to be back out and get three days in a row – and we are trying to go again in the next few days as well – it’s been a really successful week and really excited by the progression we’re making.”
Talking about the transition from the AC40 to the AC75 with cyclor power, Pete offered: “The AC40s got a massive amount of power so you can get things pretty wrong and just deal with it but the AC75 if you sail it well, you’ll be able to throw around just like a 40 and yeah we’re really excited by the developments and obviously having the whole team back together and pushing on now we’re really pleased that we’ve got the chance to sail the big boat up here at the moment… it’s a great chance to develop our systems, I think you’ve seen that on the other teams as well, so it’s been a really invaluable sailing the AC75, getting the whole team together and we’re just really excited by developments we’re making.”
For Alinghi Red Bull Racing, it was a super long afternoon with the team returning ‘Boat Zero’ to their buzzing Port Vell base at 7.20pm as the sun dipped over the mountain ranges that nestle between the Sierra de Collserola to the north and Montjuic to the south bringing night-time to the bustling city of Barcelona.
Hydro issues had precluded the Swiss from docking out earlier in the afternoon and the engineering shore team were busy trying to solve a myriad of issues with the sailors looking on, eager to get on the water. Unfortunately, the issues took longer to solve than usual, a result perhaps of the AC75 being dockside for an extended period, but eventually they towed out at just after 4.30pm, hoisted sails and attempted to get some runs in. Another issue required the engineers to come back onboard but eventually a short 10-minute run was attained with four tacks, two foiling. Undeterred the team are eyeing an early start on Friday to shake ‘BoatZero’ down and get some miles under her foils.
Speaking afterwards, Nils Theuninck, one of the key members of the Power Group gave a realistic update on the re-commissioning of ‘BoatZero’ after a month in the shed saying: “We haven’t sailed the boat for more than a month because we were focusing on the AC40 for the Preliminary Regatta in Vilanova, so it’s part of the process you know to check that everything is working and make sure that we’re ready for the big block of training to come Those boats are very, very, complicated there’s a lot of systems going on so it’s part of the process to have days like that to make sure everything works and then we can go racing or sailing around the course the next days.”
Talking about the on-water issues, Nils updated saying: “So we ran into like some first issues…this is part of the commissioning – but you know the issue has been solved and then we went back to sailing and then run into like some other issues and some other things we need to make sure is working for tomorrow but all in all it’s a good day for the whole team to make sure that everything is working the way we want today and tomorrow will be a better day for sure.”
It will be an early start for the Swiss and others in Barcelona with a good-looking forecast ahead of the weekend on what is a crucial data-gathering period being the time when the America’s Cup regatta itself will be in full-flight in 2024. Expect long days over the coming month. INEOS Britannia and Orient Express Racing were not observed on the water today and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s next scheduled day is Monday. (Magnus Wheatley)
On-Water Recon Unit Report – NYYC American Magic: American Magic rolled out their AC40 ‘America’ from the shed at 09.05 am. The boat was craned to the water at 09:35 and the team docked out at 11.30, as planned. The CMN-3 main and their J2 with no window were hoisted inside the port. Similarly, ‘Magic’ was rolled out at 09.40, craned to the water at 10:15 and docked out two minutes behind ‘America’. The CMN-1 main and a J2 with a triangular head were hoisted inside the port.
For the first hour and fifteen minutes the training consisted of speed testing upwind and downwind, switching sides and positions in between the two boats. The conclusion was very clear. America was faster and higher on the upwinds and lower and faster on the runs. No matter if they were to windward, to leeward, to the left, to the right or even starting in tricky positions. America was consistently faster and with better angles than Magic, all the time.
After speed testing for an hour and a quarter approximately, the wind increased and both boats stopped to replace their respective J2s for J3s. However, Magic seemed to have a problem. America hoisted their J3 and stayed standing-by for half an hour. The President of Sailing Operations and the COO could be seen onboard Magic trying to find a solution to the problem with one of them getting under the deck through the front hatch. Unfortunately, at 13:40 the team was forced to lower the mainsail on Magic and tow it back to base slowly in displacement mode. It took them more than an hour and a half to get it back to the dock.
On the other hand, at 13:40 ‘America’ continued with the training on their own, mostly sailing on a straight line on target speeds and angles. Tom Slingsby and Michael Menninger who were originally on ‘Magic’ were moved onboard Chase Two and later got onboard ‘America’, rotating in between the three helms and trimmers. It seemed like on port tack they sailed with more twist on the jib leech than on starboard tack.
As regards manoeuvres, a much greater percentage standing on their foils than the past two days. The stronger the breeze the easier with these foils on ‘America’.
‘America’ was sailed back to the port, where sails were lowered at 16:48, the boat was back in the dock at 17:05, craned out at 17:35 and back in the shed at 18:10. (Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on NYYC AM)
On-Water Recon Unit Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: Emirates Team New Zealand’s third consecutive AC75 sailing session this week saw the team sailing in southerly winds in the 12 to 16 knot range and which kicked up a light to moderate chop on the waters off Barcelona. B2 rolled out of the shed on time at midday and after a 30-minute rigging process was in the water by 1235. The team docked-out on time at 1330 and by 1347 had the M2-1 mainsail and J3-6 headsail hoisted just inside the harbour entrance. By 1355 the boat was out of the harbour and up on foils in a 12-13 knot breeze from 180.
After a brief upwind stint on starboard the crew – helmsmen Peter Burling and Nathan Outteridge with Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney on flight control / sail trim – bore off downwind and accelerated to an estimated 40 knots plus. Rather than go all the way downwind however, after three or four minutes the boat did an arcing high-speed round up on to a close-hauled course and put in three foiling tacks before stopping at 1405.
Similar to yesterday, speeds upwind were in the low to mid thirty knot range. The boat was up and foiling again at 1415 on a long fast downwind run with four gybes before a stop at 1430 when a chase boat came alongside but there was no crew rotation observed. Setting off again at 1440 the crew did a short upwind stint before tacking and bearing way downwind for several minutes on two boards at the start of three one lap practice races around a virtual windward / leeward racecourse. That session lasted 30 minutes before a stop at 1505 for cyclor rotation and a change to the J4-6. The wind by now was up at a solid 16 knots from 190-200 degrees. The final session of the day lasted 45 minutes and saw three more practice laps before a final upwind leg to the harbour entrance. Sails were down by 1612 with the boat back at the dock at 1625.
On-Water Recon Unit Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s sailing session was marked by hydraulic problems with their AC75, which has been inside the shed for a month. The Swiss rolled their AC75 at 12:00h, and after the mast procedure, the yacht was craned into the water and placed alongside the chase boat for almost 4 hours. They tested the foils, and right after, they were apparently having issues with the hydraulic systems, with engineers onboard trying to locate and fix the problem by rotating the mast and moving the jib car traveller.
By 15:54h, they docked out and towed the boat for 30 minutes before stopping in front of El Forum. There were 16knts from 200º when they hoisted the main and J at 16:40h. At 17:15h, after one unsuccessful sailing attempt, they grabbed the tow line and two technicians went onboard for another 40 minutes. They were looking at the main and the main traveller. With the issues apparently solved, they foiled upwind for ten minutes doing 4 tacks, 2 of them fully foiling. They ended the session at 18.11h, lowered sails and towed back to port. The team docked in at 19:20h and they expect an early session for tomorrow. (Elia Miquel)