Leaden skies, showery rain, lumpy seas and a shifty, oscillating east-north-easterly with gusts up to 16 knots greeted the teams for the penultimate week of training in Barcelona during the 37th America’s Cup Match period. Barcelona was biting today after the benign, flat-water conditions of the last couple of weeks and on balance the big boats looked more at ease, blitzing around the La Barceloneta beachfront whilst the AC40s struggled in the swell.
For NYYC American Magic it was a full-on afternoon in swells that built to almost one metre that made the downwinds especially tough for the forty-footers. Not quite survival conditions but it was session that required absolutely maximum commitment and concentration to keep flying and stop the foils from ventilating on the troughs. ‘America’ had switched over last week’s foil set-up from port to starboard presumably with the idea of testing Foil Wing 3, now on the starboard side, against the latest thinking (Foil Wing 4) that is on the starboard side of ‘Magic.’ In these conditions it was tough to gauge any perceivable differences but the fact that the Americans were rotating crews often through the afternoon, indicated that sailor feel was the prized commodity in the de-brief afterwards.
Paul Goodison, back in his drysuit for today’s wet session, commented afterwards: “It’s great to get back out in some bigger waves, we’ve been kind of spoiled a little bit recently here in Barcelona with a quite flat south-westerly sea breezes to go out today and have it a bit further round to the to the north and have a much bigger sea state is a real good reality check for where we are and also checking out the foils in those conditions how they compare against each other….I think we weren’t really in survival, it was sailable, but the biggest part is how hard you push because you see from inside and outside that as soon as the boat has one or two big touchdowns it doesn’t matter how much you gain in the 100 metres before it’s getting the right fine balance between pushing the boat to go as fast as it can but also having that small part of forgiveness built into the set up so that when you do touchdown it doesn’t slow you down so much and you get going a bit quicker.”
The American team pushed hard through the session, but ‘Magic’ returned home early and despite their best efforts, getting any meaningful line-ups was hard in the conditions. Downwind was hairy with ‘America’ coming close on several occasions to capsize at pace but it was clear that the team were in full-on mode and as Paul described afterwards: “I think that the biggest way is to commit, you got to go faster and push the boat as hard as you can and obviously back off a little bit with the trim to make it a bit more forgiving for when you touchdown but you really got to put your foot down and go fast.”
Not the ideal day for foil testing but a good sighter to start the week and with an improving weather forecast from mid-week onwards, American Magic will be looking to continue their two-boat testing analysis through to the end of the month.
For Emirates Team New Zealand, it was a slightly later dock-out than planned but after hoisting sails in the flat-water protected harbour, it was game-on immediately for an utter demonstration of big weather, big-boat foiling. How the Kiwis manage to make the sailing look so effortless is down to long hours on the water and in these kinds of conditions they send a powerful message to the rest of the America’s Cup world. Working as a tight unit from cyclor to helmsman, this was co-ordination of the highest pedigree with Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney dialling ‘Te Rehutai’ resolutely low to the water both upwind and downwind allowing Pete Burling and Nathan Outteridge to execute their sailing angles with ease. To be critical, the two-board gybes looked to err on the side of caution but kept the VMG numbers high with relatively flat gybes and the mainsail taking a while to come over whilst upwind there were occasions when a higher bow looked in order in the waves which always looks slow with the stern run-off immersed but almost immediately this was corrected and the team had the AC75 on rails. Pity the cyclors who put in one heck of a shift today.
Speaking afterwards Josh Junior who was hopping in and out of the AC75 from the chase boat all afternoon, gave a good analysis of the day saying: “It was actually very choppy, it was kind of rebounding off the beach and the breakwater here so it was quite short and it was standing up quite steep…but in these things you’re going so fast you’re flying above it and of course your foils are going through the waves so fast that it’s hard to keep up so it’s a little bit difficult just where to place the foil for the wave whether you’re at the top or the bottom of it and how you deal with that.”
Giving an insight into the ‘team’ mentality of the Kiwis, Josh added: “All the roles are challenging, everyone on the boat’s doing a pretty tough role and it takes the full team to come together and sail the boat well in those conditions so yes it’s great for us to get out in some challenging conditions and try and be more accurate.”
Josh also really summed up these training days and what the hours on the water mean for the team, saying: “The America’s Cup is just about chipping away and we’ve got a lot of smart people here who are working really, really, hard and yeah everyone’s just trying to improve every day so yeah guys pulling the boat out and we’ll get into another day tomorrow.”
Alinghi Red Bull Racing equally put in a long four-hour shift, going through the gears in ‘BoatZero’ and just look better and better as the days go on. In tricky conditions, helmsmen Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin put a lot of stock on accuracy, sailing hard through the swells and driving even harder downwind. On balance, the team do look more at ease on port tack or gybe with the ETNZ T-Foil immersed, carrying a smoother ride at a lower ride-height whilst appearing to fight the American Magic legacy port anhedral foil on starboard tack and gybe. Take-offs were smooth on the T-foil but once in flight and then going through manoeuvres at pace, the differences were marginal and the asymmetry of the boat, as the team have got more co-ordinated, is becoming ironed out.
The interesting dynamic onboard the Swiss team is the growing partnership between Arnaud and Max whose sailing style is similar and whose transitions are becoming almost seamless. Gybe to gybe and tack to tack today was pretty much perfect time and again over some 70 nautical miles with consistent angles at the exit and there’s a real growing confidence in Max’s demeanour that he was keen to pin on the work of the team saying: “The first two weeks was more about getting back the boat on the water so all the team was involved to have the boat working and yeah like many work from the team and now it’s so nice that we work so good because we can just go out on the water having no problems…sailing more than four hours and lots of miles doing it so I think we are working pretty well now.”
Great session from the Swiss yet again who are putting in the hours productively on the water and with tow new jibs declared – a J1 and a J3 – today was all about getting a first sight of the J3 before sensibly they switched down to the J4 for the majority of the session. The Bull was snorting.
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s AC40 was seen to have been launched but they stayed dockside, as did INEOS Britannia and Orient Express Racing. An improving forecast should see all six teams out in Barcelona this week. Stay tuned. (Magnus Wheatley)
On-Water Recon Unit Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: The Swiss had a commissioning day with big waves and shifty winds. Alinghi Red Bull Racing recently declared two new jib skins, J1-2R version C and J3-1R version D. They rolled out their AC75 at 10:00h. The yacht was craned in, and the usual pre-sailing checks were carried out.
The team docked-out at 12:00h, hoisting the M2-2R mainsail and J3-1R headsail by the port entrance. The wind conditions outside were 8 knots from 080º with short and sharp waves and confusing sea state. The team started sailing in displacement mode by the port entrance, checking all the systems before the first take-off at 13:00h. They did a manoeuvre warm-up with an increasing shifty colder breeze and stopped sailing apparently with intentions on changing the jib configuration.
After a talk with the chase boat members, they followed with a 5 minute upwind and then dropped the J3-1R and hoisted the J4-1R. At 14:03h, the team did a long upwind and changed batteries in the proximity of El Masnou, 10 nautical miles north-east from Barcelona.
At 14:36h, they commenced a 20 minute downwind, consisting of fourteen gybes and ended up in the vicinity of El Forum with a cyclor swap. At 15:10h, with eleven knots from east-north-east they followed with two more long legs upwind-downwind, doing 19 fully-foiling manoeuvres, approaching downwind to the harbour, where they lowered the sails at 16:20h.
The team covered a total of 70 nautical miles over four hours on the water, 119min were spend sailing with 61 manoeuvres performed, 92% fully foiling. Elia Miquel- ARBR Recon Unit.
On-Water Recon Unit Report – NYYC American Magic: NYYC AM rolled out Magic at 08.45 and America at 09:20. Both AC40s on LEQ12 mode. Magic with the same foils’ configuration to the past two weeks, with foil wing and flap #1 on the port side and #4 on the starboard side, while America´s foils were switched during the weekend. Foil wing and flap #2 are now on the port side, while foil and wing #3 are on the starboard side.
Magic was craned to the water at 09:15, and then America followed at 09:45.
Both boats docked out at 10:55, as planned. One-design mainsails were selected for both boats, which were hoisted at 11:10 while coming out of the port. Once out, one-design J3 jibs were hoisted at 11:20.
Today´s training consisted mainly about coping with the conditions. A disorganized and building 0.60-meter swell from the ENE prevailed during the training session, combined with a shifty ENE breeze from anywhere in between 30 to 90 deg in direction and oscillating in intensity from 11 to 15 knots. All these, under a rainy, cloudy, and grey day.
At 11:45 both boats were ready to start the first speed test of the day. One upwind and one downwind were carried out. Nothing conclusive could be extracted from this speed-test.
It was very hard to get both boats sailing either upwind or downwind on VMG for a longer period than three minutes, without any of them ventilating and nose-diving; or just having to stop for any other reason. Specially on the downwind, both boats ventilated and nosedived multiple times.
At 12:25 there was a break until 12:45 in which another upwind was carried out, practicing some tacks. Approximately 70% of the tacks were completely foiling, on both boats.
At 13.00 Magic stopped and stayed half an hour next to one of the team’s chase boats with shore team members coming onboard, going under the deck through the front hatch. Thirty minutes after, Magic was released but just stayed luffing heading to the wind drifting backwards for one more hour approximately. Probably, there was a particular issue on Magic that could not be identified from the RU chase boat. However, Magic ended up being able to return to the port sailing downwind, foiling. In the meantime, from 13:30 onwards, the training continued onboard America mainly sailing downwind, ventilating multiple times and nosediving. Bearing away seemed like a real challenge and there were two times in which they were very close to capsize.
Both boats ended up entering the port almost at the same time, around 14:40. They lowered sails at 14:55 and docked at 15:10. Magic was craned out at 15:55 and America followed at 16:05. Not the best day for fine foil-testing. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on NYYC AM
On-Water Recon Unit Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: The weather for Emirates Team New Zealand’s opening AC75 session of the week saw very contrasting weather conditions to those of the past three weeks when a regular southerly wind and flattish sea state was the norm. Today instead the wind blew from the northeast all day at between 12 and 17 knots and the sea state was a highly unpredictable, very confused, steep chop of up to an estimated 0.8 metres. Sea conditions were worst just outside the harbour where the refractive effect of the waves bouncing back off the breakwater was most pronounced.
After rolling out at 1130 the Kiwi AC75 was rigged and launched by 1215 before a slightly delayed dock out time of 1334. Sails (M2-3 mainsail and J4-6 headsail) were hoisted in the flat water just inside the harbour entrance and by 1410 the crew had the boat punching through the bumpy seas, on starboard upwind, before climbing steadily into the air to begin the first of a series of windward / leeward laps. Although the sea-state made it impossible for us to follow the boat closely the tacks and gybes looked smooth and assured although the boat appeared less stable in flight downwind as the sailors dealt with the unpredictable sea state. After a 10-minute stop at 1425 the boat was in the air constantly for 15 minutes of windward leeward sailing before a second 20-minute stop. A third 10-minute stop 15 minutes later saw a rotation of the cyclors.
The final session of the day lasted 40 minutes with the boat scorching around a series of long and shorter windward leeward laps (free sailing with no apparent virtual racecourse). This session ended at 1600 with the boat sailing into the harbour entrance to drop sails by 1610 with dock-in taking place at 1620.
JOB VERMEULEN / AMERICA’S CUP
UGO FONOLLÁ / AMERICA’S CUP
JOB VERMEULEN / AMERICA’S CUP