No Monday blues for Alinghi Red Bull Racing who were back at it in Barcelona on ‘BoatZero’ the team’s AC75 for what turned out to be a productive day on the water in predominantly lighter breeze. Joining them on the America’s Cup racetrack was a completely unbranded AC40 of INEOS Britannia, thought to be the team’s second AC40 and going through a thorough session of commissioning in full one-design mode.
Sir Ben Ainslie alluded to the fact that the team could really learn from two-boat testing whilst he was competing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at the Preliminary Regatta so we expect to see the British stepping up their race programme in the coming weeks with the new boat lining up against ‘Athena’ that is on its way back from the Red Sea.
For Alinghi Red Bull Racing it was looking like a light weather day with just 4-5 knots when they docked out at midday but by 1pm the afternoon sea breeze came in and the team enjoyed 9-12 knots which was perfect for the plan of the day that was clearly to build confidence in the high stress areas of bear-aways and round-ups.
Time and again the team went through the G-Force inducing transitions, an area where they struggled in the bigger breeze of Jeddah in the AC40. Indeed it could be argued that they lost a race on a leeward mark round-up where Emirates Team New Zealand executed a single-board fast round-up at a port gate whereas the Swiss went for a double-board (and thus slower) round-up at the starboard gate. The speed gains by a smooth round-up are enormous in equally matched boats so today was an exercise in ‘lessons-learned’ and applied up to the AC75 at full volume.
It was interesting to watch and see the confidence building but whilst the AC40 is something that can be almost thrown around (in relation to an AC75) what the helms were looking at, particularly on the round-ups, was just how quick they could steer upwind without stalling on the foils. By and large they aced it with just a few big splashdowns when the limit was reached. Impressive training and the helming duo of Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin did a very good job of pushing into uncomfortable places for Flight Controllers Bryan Mettraux and Yves Detrey to dig ‘BoatZero’ out of.
The team selected the M1-1R mainsail that has been seen before but with what looks like some re-cutting down at the clew to better aid the new mainsheet system and the extensive, beefed-up battening structure that runs along the foot to the tack in an arched construction. There’s certainly no let-up from the sail design team who will be eager to get the new allocation up and running when their raceboat arrives in the Spring.
In the 9-12 knot region, the Swiss do look to have built in a huge amount of confidence to their sailing style with easy tacks and well-co-ordinated gybes, holding the mainsail beautifully to windward on the exit of the gybes as the board is raised and the max power comes onto the newly immersed foil. Great trim from the Flight Controllers and ride height upwind in the flat water was looking sublime – low and fast. By the end of the session, after some three-and-a-half hours of sailing, the single-board bear-aways were rock-solid and a big tick in the coach’s boxes for sure.
Speaking afterwards, Barnabé Delarze, part of a reduced Power Group due to some illness in the camp spoke to the recon team and confirmed that the day was: “to get back into it after last week, and a few a few weeks away on the smaller boats, and yeah get some laps tests on things even though it was light in force it was quite tough, so good day out there.”
More to come this week for the Swiss who are scheduled to train through to the middle of next week before their Christmas break. (Magnus Wheatley)
On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC75 at 10:00. The yacht was craned in, and routine systems checks were carried out. Notably, the port foil was lifted multiple times, while the starboard foil was lifted once. Electronics technicians worked on the starboard helm, likely implementing upgrades, using parts from a ‘spare wheel’ bag. After most crew members disembarked the yacht, further testing of mast rotation and cunningham actuators was conducted, powered by the forward left cyclor pod.
The team docked out at 12:00, towing the yacht 1.7NM offshore into the WNW wind. The M1-1R mainsail and J3-1R jib were hoisted.The clew has since been modified and now completely covers the mainsheet system. Yves Courvoisier and Gautier Sergeant were on the catalyst chase boat, likely observing the changes made to the mainsail.
Stint 1 (12:45 – 12:55, 8-10kn 290° @ 12:20, 4-5kn 290° @ 12:45): With very patchy conditions, sailing began in a lull but progressed to fully foiling after sailing in displacement a couple minutes North into a stronger patch of wind, with 6 consecutive gybes downwind. A 5-minute stop followed for adjustments.
Stint 2 (13:00 – 13:25, 7-10kn 270° @ 13:00, 9-12kn 270° @ 13:10): The team sailed a short upwind, followed by a downwind, then rounded up and stopped for a minute before setting off again and repeating the same course. A 5-minute break followed as the team rehydrated and prepared to sail again.
Stint 3 (13:30 – 13:45): The team sailed upwind, touching down on one tack after gaining too much height right before entering the manoeuvre. After returning to foil, a couple more tacks were performed before a bear-away and a gybe to finish the stint. The J3-1R jib was exchanged to the J2-2L as the wind started to decrease.
Stint 4 (14:10 – 14:25, 4-6kn 280° @ 13:50, 5-7kn 275° @ 14:05): The team set off with a short upwind/downwind before practicing round-ups and bear-aways. 3 round ups and 3 bear aways were performed on each tack.
Stint 5 (14:35 – 14:55, 8-10.5kn 275° @ 14:35, 5-8kn 275° @ 15:00): A further 3 round-ups and 3 bear-aways were performed on each tack, followed by a long upwind leg of 10 tacks (only half were fully foiling) in patchy conditions. The team concluded sailing at 15:00 and dropped the sails.
The team spent three and a half hours on the water, with 85 minutes spent sailing. A total of 49 manoeuvres were observed, with a 78% fully foiling rate.