The training has begun in the near-perfect conditions of Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with Alinghi Red Bull Racing being the first team to train on the crystal waters of the Red Sea. As an opening shake-down sail, this was electric and all credit to the Swiss for being the first team operational at their Jeddah base on the Obhur Creek.
The sailors docked out at midday with the beautiful westerly breeze that filters across the Red Sea from the Sudanese land mass out to the west clocking in at around 11-12 knots with all the potential to build throughout the afternoon. Pure one-design sails were hoisted on both boats with the helming partnership of Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin taking charge of the team’s newest AC40 (AC40-7) whilst Nicolas Charbonnier and Phil Robertson shared helming duties on AC40-4, the team’s first AC40. As a shake-down sail, both boats had a heap of systems checks to perform that kept the technicians on the Chase Boat busy but by mid-afternoon they were getting in sync and really starting to push hard.
Ahead of racing, both boats switched down a jib code, removing the J2 for the more manageable J3 with the breeze building to some 16 knots that had them absolutely rocketing around just off the famous Jeddah Corniche – a most perfect natural viewing gallery for spectators. A quick practice start ensued right on the intended racecourse for the second Preliminary Regatta and then it was down to business with a 1.5 nautical mile race where it was nip and tuck with Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin just edging the win after a splashdown gybe from the Robertson/Charbonnier boat.
The most stunning of Arabian architectural backdrops with the angular Jeddah Yacht Club & Marina and the Al Rahmah Mosque – also known as the ‘Floating Mosque’ – and the downtown skyline of Jeddah city this was as close to perfect conditions as could ever be wished for AC40 training and racing.
And with the unique light of what is now autumn in Saudi Arabia, this was a session at full gas from the Swiss who took the first opportunity to experience the conditions for themselves. In total the recon team counted some 84 manoeuvres with a 93% foil-to-foil rate and a total of 48 nautical miles covered over the four-hour session.
Winter training never looked so good.
On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing commenced their sailing day with both their AC40-7 (Red) and AC40-4 (Yellow) at their Jeddah base on the Obhur Creek in Saudi Arabia. The yachts were rolled out at 09:15 and 09:45 respectively.
Following standard procedures, the team docked out at 12:00, with both boats on one-design foils and sails. The day saw steady thermal breeze which started around 11-12 knots from the West, and gradually increased throughout the day, peaking at 16 knots at the end of the day.
The yachts were towed on foil out to the Red Sea, hoisting their one-design sails outside the breakwater. The Red boat, helmed by Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin began with a warm-up routine sailing upwind and downwind, commencing at 12:35 for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the yellow AC40-4 engaged in setting up systems.
During the second stint, the Yellow boat, helmed by Phil Robertson and Nico Charbonnier, sailed an upwind/downwind leg while the red boat remained stationary, receiving attention from technicians for teething issues. As the sea-state remained relatively flat, the yellow boat temporarily dropped its j2 jib before embarking on another 10-minute stint three.
The fourth stint saw both boats sailing in sync after where they made their way downwind towards the Jeddah Waterfront and paused. Both yachts changed from J2 jibs to J3 jibs, as winds averaged 14 knots with some gusts hitting 16 knots, and a slight chop increasing.
Following this, the red boat initiated stint five, while the yellow boat held its position briefly for additional below-deck technician work. After re-joining, both yachts sailed upwind performing a series of split tacks before rounding a chase rib, then proceeded downwind towards the 1.5 NM course set in front of the Jeddah Waterfront, on the intended racecourse area.
A practice start preceded a two-lap race, which was won by the red boat, thanks in part to a touch down gybe performed by the yellow boat, allowing the red boat to seize the lead.
With sails dropped at 16:00 outside the Obhur entrance, both yachts concluded their session and towed on foil back to base. Boat Captain Diego Torrado summed up the first day sailing in Jeddah as a success in the post sailing interview.
The recon unit covered 48 Nautical Miles chasing the team over almost four and a half hours on the water, of which 140 minutes were spent sailing. 84 manoeuvres were observed, of which 93% were fully foiling.
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