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HomeRegattaAmerica's Cup37th America’s Cup Teams Pushing Boundaries and Design Limits

37th America’s Cup Teams Pushing Boundaries and Design Limits

It’s a truly international picture in the 37th America’s Cup at the moment with the teams training hard around the globe on Tuesday, deep into their development work with key, crucial design decisions being weighed-up, tested and analysed to the nth degree. These are the hard yards of professional yachting at the pinnacle of the sport and the very best in the business are really putting the hours in.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Out in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the fabulous next stop for the second Preliminary Regatta of the 37th America’s Cup, Alinghi Red Bull Racing were hard at it with both of their AC40s docked out early and lined up in one-design mode for a real technique-heavy day in a breeze that really didn’t want to play ball for very long.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Today the Swiss docked-out both boats just after 11.30am and made the absolute best of the afternoon with a couple of hours of decent foiling conditions, keeping the ride height high over the residual swell and although the two boats never got to line-up on a racecourse, it was valuable venue training from the outset. With 15-17 knots blowing in from almost due south, which is a rare breeze in Jeddah, it wasn’t long before it started to fade and clock, first to 225° before settling even further west at 240° and dying to just 4-5 knots.

Almost an hour and half of foiling time was recorded before the shutdown with the recon team noting that there was quite a mix-up of crews with Arnaud Psarofaghis joining up with Nicolas Charbonnier on AC40-7 alongside a trim team of Nicolas Rolaz and Bryan Mettraux whilst Maxime Bachelin and Phil Robertson took charge of AC40-4 alongside Yves Detrey and Jason Waterhouse. The precise make-up of the team for the second Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah won’t be known for a while and it’s clear that Alinghi Red Bull Racing are operating a dynamic squad system to spread the learnings and raise everyone’s technique.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Nicolas Rolaz, the fast-coming superstar of the foiling scene and key member of the Driving Group at Alinghi Red Bull Racing summed the day up perfectly saying: “Tough conditions today, the westerly breeze filled in quite early this morning with stormy conditions which brought some sea-states pretty similar to a nice east wind in Barcelona, so chops and quite steep but we did the most of it in the beginning with the waves, it was pretty good.”

The similarity to Barcelona conditions was marked today with the Swiss working hard, particularly downwind to avoid pitch-poling or nosedives into the back of the waves as Nicolas confirmed, saying: “Upwind was pretty manageable just the downwind to make sure we didn’t crash into the waves was a lot of driving, a lot of sail trim to recover quick from touchdowns, so yeah pretty similar to the Barcelona I would say.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Talking about the selection for the race team, Nicolas added: “No, the team is not decided yet, we’re still thinking it out and I think those crew swaps are very good for sharing the knowledge of each crew, every day we learn things and it’s a good way to share them.” Nicolas also highlighted the approach that the Swiss are taking to improvement in technique when asked how different the training is ahead of the Jeddah Preliminary Regatta to the one held in Vilanova in September, saying: “We looked at the others, what they were sailing and how they were trimming the boats and we’re trying to take what we like from the others and keep pushing on what we like from us and making the best mix.”

With time on the water at the venue being so important, it will be very interesting to see how Alinghi Red Bull Racing fare in the upcoming racing. Looking good.

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Meanwhile back in a puffy, shift, patchy Cagliari, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli had the hammer down when they could for a truly scintillating second day of testing with their new Wing 04 against the Wing 03 that they have looked very comfortable on in recent tests. Today the design team would have been happy with what they saw as Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni drove Luna Rossa like they stole it whilst the Flight Controllers pushed through the cant variables and beyond. An interesting moment, caught on the recon video, saw that cant pushed just an inch too far with the outer wing tip of Wing 04 breaking the surface and very quickly sending the boat into a hobby-horse that was rapidly corrected by the sailors.

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Overall, the Italian team kept Luna Rossa firmly end-plated as low as they dared both upwind and downwind on a day where straight-line testing was very much demanded. On that metric they looked blisteringly fast but through some of the tacks and gybes there’s an understandable cautiousness as the team get to grips with the new tech and the nuances of the new foil.

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Watching on from the Chase Boat eagerly with his nose in a phalanx of computers, Chad Turner, one of the team’s key Performance Analysts gave his assessment of the day saying: “I’m interested in just making sure the sailors are sailing the boat consistently tack to tack, you know we’re trying to test different things so we want to make sure that we’re testing apples to apples instead of apples to oranges so I’m focused mostly on trim, heel, cant angles, boat speeds, wind angles those sort of basic performance parameters…We rely heavily on checking everything in against the VPP’s so the VPP’s are the targets that we sort of reference on the water and we’re always comparing to those numbers and every night we prepare reports to compare how we’re doing against the VPP targets.”

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Assessing the day, Chad added: “We definitely ticked off everything that was on our list for today. It was a tricky day with pretty puffy conditions, we started on the J2 then went to the J1.5 and back to the J2 and sailed through a lot of puffs and lulls so it was it was a tricky mistral, all quite puffy but in the end, we got through the whole checklist so that’s good.”

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were very much the real deal today on the Bay of Angels. Top performance.

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

Over in Barcelona, INEOS Britannia continued their testing onboard their rebuilt prototype ‘T6’ and looked absolutely on it all day with their remarkable new mainsail trim system that is really making a difference and appears to have a dual control box that controls both the leech tension and the new battening structure along the lower third of the mainsail.

Combined with what seems like an even more dynamically responsive traveller system and the well-proven 3D jib sheeting system, INEOS Britannia seem to have the ability to go through the gears through the lulls with consummate ease inducing real depth into both sails when demanded and keeping the power on. Impressive tech coming through from the British – and there’s even suggestion that the mainsail itself, which is beautifully detailed, could be new but we await any declaration to confirm in the coming 24 hours.

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

All afternoon ‘T6’ was dialled in desperately low to the water, bustle-skimming upwind with a slight bow-up mode (only slight) and downwind there was some lovely angle gybing with low VMG on a pitch-perfect day with a relatively flat water and a breeze that gusted at times up to 20 knots on the 37th America’s Cup racecourse. 

Speaking afterwards, Giles Scott was more than pleased with the day saying: “It was a good day, into November now, and I think days like today could be few and far between. Amazing conditions out there, nice and flat generally, certainly on the racecourse area nice and flat, south-westerly and 12 knots to towards north of 20 knots at times…The rudder’s feeling pretty good, it’s been completely put back together, all the systems around it got damaged so a lot of lot of rebuilding back there, but yeah it’s solid.”

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

Again today the team opted for the high-pressure inducing zig zagging at times on the foils to build in accuracy and gauge pre-sets around the trim whilst testing systems as Giles confirmed, saying: “We were doing a lot of a lot of straight line testing and there was a few little tests we were doing, dynamic response type testing, and yeah there’s quite a lot you can play with within the systems and we’re really just exploring that space with T6 and hopefully that will enable us to be in a good position when we launch the big boat.”

The only blot on an otherwise superb day was a near-miss capsize out of a gybe which the sailing team of Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott, Iain Jensen and Leigh McMillan pulled back from the brink – itself quite a feat of foiling seamanship with quick reactions.

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

Giles went on to confirm the team’s focus over the coming few days in Barcelona, saying: “It’s really just about getting hours on the water so if we have sailable, raceable, conditions we’re going to be happy through to the end of November. We’ve got a long list to get through given the amount of time that we’ve got left with the boat, so there’s plenty to do and hopefully the weather can be kind to us and give us plenty of hours out there on the water.”

If the hours are there, INEOS Britannia will take them. Fabulous sailing from the team today and highly valuable.

Emirates Team New Zealand sailed on Tuesday in Auckland – please see the report published on the website. NYYC American Magic kept their AC75 ‘Patriot’ ashore today with an expected first launch in Barcelona on Wednesday and Orient Express Racing Team’s AC40 is en route to Jeddah at the moment so no update on their progress. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Unit Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC40-4 (Yellow) and AC40-7 (Red, featuring Vilanova branding on the mainsail head) at 09:00 and 09:40, respectively, from their base at Obhur Creek, Jeddah. Both boats were rigged with one-design foils and sails in preparation for the day’s sessions.

The team docked out at 11:30, with the red boat being towed to open waters for sail hoisting, while the yellow was rigged under the protection of the Obhur Creek breakwater, in hindsight a better decision considering the sea state. A significant chop of up to 1m was present, with wind speed recorded between 15-17 knots at the beginning of the session.

Sailing commenced at 12:00, with a quick pause to attend an issue with Bryan Mettraux’s helmet communications on the red boat, which was quickly resolved allowing the Red team to sail a long upwind towards the race area and join the Yellow team.

In the second stint, both boats executed two long tacks and gybes, with the red boat showing slight handling inconsistencies. Both boats exchanged to J2 jibs after the first stint, as the wind eased to 8 knots. The third stint was characterized by split tacks amid diminishing wind and residual waves, complicating manoeuvres.

As wind conditions continued to decline, measuring 4-5 knots, the yachts were towed to the start of the 1.5NM racecourse and J1 jibs were hoisted ahead of the final stint. The intention was for racing on the course, however this was abandoned, as multiple tow-starts were attempted, but both yachts failed to maintain foiling for significant distances, leading to the decision to conclude the sailing day early.

The boats were towed back to base after an on-water session lasting three and a half hours, with a sailing time of 85 minutes. Of the 32 manoeuvres attempted, 75% were executed fully foiling.

On-Water Recon Unit Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: The Italian team rolled out their LEQ12 prototype at 10:00, stepped the mast and craned the yacht in by 10:15. The appendage configuration remained unchanged compared to Day 94 with Wing03 on starboard and Wing04 on port, shots of which have been taken from requested perspectives off and in the water.

Dock-out was scheduled for 11:10 and the shore team ran through the usual dock checks. As the yacht was being towed out of the harbour, the offshore Mistral already seemed a bit patchy over the Gulf. The pressure was measured 315 TWA 7-9 knots at 11:30 when main M1-2 and jib J2-2 were being hoisted. Once all set, the LEQ12 was boarded by 6 crew, towed up on port tack and the first foiling stint started downwind for straight-line runs executing only a small number of gybes before trimming back up with just a small number of tacks.

Further offshore, the breeze seemed to be stronger and more consistent blowing 12-14 knots so perhaps better in range for the J2-2. After 20 foiling minutes, the yacht came to a stop for a crew swap in the guest seats on port. During the second foiling stint, lasting approx. 15 minutes, the LEQ12 was observed sailing mostly downwind executing some gybes but mostly testing modes from VMG to high/fast.

As the yacht entered a patch with less pressure, approx. 6-8kn, it came off the foils during a gybe. The prototype was then quickly towed-up twice but came hullborne both times exiting the tack manoeuvre from starboard to port tack. As the pressure had suddenly died completely, the J2-2 was lowered, and the team waited for some pressure as the sky was clearing on the NW side.

Just when the J1-1 was about to be hoisted, some more breeze filled in reaching 7-9kn 310TWA and the team opted for the J1.5-2. Another tow-to-foil followed and the LEQ12 started its third foiling stint on starboard tack, proceeding with an intense phase of upwind moding, especially high/slow adjusting the port cant and hence heel, before transiting into several reaching runs on both tacks looking at end-plating performance.

In addition, several hard bear-aways followed by hard trim-ups were observed on both tacks before heading downwind for two additional long straight-line runs again end-plating when feasible. After almost 40 minutes, the yacht came to a stop as the pressure dropped again below 5 knots and the team took the chance for a lunch break.

As the pressure picked up again, the fourth foiling stint began on starboard tack and, once again, the LEQ12 seemed to sail close hauled just right above minimum foiling speed and, when about to touch down, bearing away to build again. Then it transited into a reach course, tacked and repeated the same routine sailing on port tack before the wind picked up reaching 13-15kn 320 TWA.

For the last short stint, the J1.5-2 was lowered, and the J2-2 was rehoisted. Once up and foiling by tow, the LEQ12 completed several tacks before falling hullborne perhaps due to an increased leeward heel and larger ride height dropping the board. The wind had dropped again and in the following 15 minutes the team tested some light air self-take-offs on both tacks without any success and sails were lowed at 1420.

The following was recorded for the day: 92 foiling minutes, 16 tacks and 12 gybes [Michele Melis AC Recon].

On-Water Recon Unit Report – INEOS Britannia: Team INEOS Britannia rolled out their LEQ12 ‘T6’ at 09:30 am, with foil wing and flap #1 on the port side, and foil wing and flap #2 on the starboard side. The broken LEQ R-01 rudder from two weeks ago had been repaired and was on the water for the second day in a row.

‘T6’ was craned to the water at 10:15 and the team docked out at 11:30, as planned, with Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott, Leigh McMillan and Iain Jensen. No unusual movements were detected during the boat´s preparation process, just usual routine activities.

The same mainsail as yesterday was hoisted at 11:50 and the J2-2 ten minutes after, while coming out of the harbour. Today´s training consisted mainly of sailing in a straight-line on target speeds and angles, combined with some specific movements for testing and checking the control systems.

To begin with, at 12:15 one upwind-downwind was performed doing 5 tacks and 6 gybes, respectively on each leg, with the wind increasing consistently in intensity. At 12:40 there was a short break to replace the J2-2 for the J4-2. Immediately after, two long upwind-downwind were executed sailing on target speed and angles. After the second downwind a five-minute break took place and then the team repeated yesterday´s exercise of sailing upwind on both tacks doing zig-zag, easing and trimming-in both sails while changing course, probably to continue to test potential new features on their sheeting systems.

After the exercise, INEOS Britannia did one long downwind sailing on targets, and then stopped for a break from 15:00 till 15:20.

At 15:20, with stronger wind intensity and a quickly building sea state, one more upwind-downwind was performed, sailing on the upper range of their J4. On the upwind T6 ventilated and splashed down on two opportunities, while on the downwind after gybing from starboard into port they were very close to capsize, achieving a very nice and important save.

In addition, as yesterday, during today´s sessions, there were a couple times in which different members of the crew did some manual adjustments on the mainsail clew.

A building south-westerly breeze prevailed during today´s session, very stable in direction slightly turning right during the day from 205 to 215 and building in intensity from 12 to 17 knots measured at sea level.

T6 entered the port at 16:10, sails were lowered at 16:20, the boat docked at 16:40 and craned out of the water at 17.00, indicating the end of the day. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on INEOS Britannia

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