Thursday, February 22, 2024
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HomeRegattaAmerica's CupChallenging Winter Training Day for America's Cup Teams

Challenging Winter Training Day for America’s Cup Teams

Chilly mid-winter conditions presented various challenges for America’s Cup teams as they pursued training sessions across Europe. Here’s a recap of the latest developments:

Key Points:

  1. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in Cagliari:
    • Despite the winter chill, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli persevered with training sessions in Cagliari, showcasing their commitment to continuous improvement.
  2. INEOS Britannia Two-Boating in Barcelona:
    • INEOS Britannia took advantage of the conditions in Barcelona, engaging in two-boat testing with their AC40s, a strategic move to refine their competitive edge.
  3. NYYC American Magic’s Brief Outing:
    • NYYC American Magic faced challenges with a brief training window before an impending storm. Unfortunately, a hydraulic ram issue cut short their sailing session, highlighting the unpredictable nature of winter training.
  4. Hydraulic Ram Setback:
    • A blown hydraulic ram seal disrupted NYYC American Magic’s plans, forcing an early return to the dock and sidelining their AC75 ‘Patriot’ for the day.
  5. Focus Shift to AC40 Two-Boat Race Testing:
    • With ‘Patriot’ slated for de-commissioning, NYYC American Magic shifts its focus to AC40 two-boat race testing, aiming to make the most of the winter training period.
Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Speaking afterwards, Sean Clarkson part of the Performance Team at American Magic commented: “We actually had a pretty minor hydraulic issue which, unfortunately with these boats, a minor issue that was quite difficult and complex to get to so we had to bring the boat ashore to get to the thing and as you can see the weather’s closing in  really quickly and we’re expecting like 28 knots in another hour or so, so we decided to call it more so based on the weather than the issue…. it’s literally a seal on a ram, very simple, very easy so nothing to hide there.”

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

For INEOS Britannia, the team docked-out early for the window and went straight into two-boat speed testing before race practice on the America’s Cup course. An actuator issue with Sienna ended their day prematurely but Giles Scott spoke to the recon team afterwards and said: “We had to shift the schedule up a little bit with the lack of wind early on…forecast wise we were expecting a lot of breeze quite quickly which is why we went out so early and actually even now it’s coming up to 2pm and that breeze hasn’t come, it’s still 14 knots out there. We had a good session, and a mix of straight-line and a little bit of racecourse as well… we want to get as much two boating as we can, I think it’s getting quite wavy over the next couple of days, but that being said I think today’s a good example that the forecast here at this time of year is very hard to predict so we’ll take any opportunity we can get.”

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

Over in Cagliari, Sardinia, for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, after yesterday’s media session, it was back to business with a massive day on the water of two-boat testing between the LEQ12 and the AC40 in kinder conditions than their first day on Monday. The LEQ12 rolled out with no less than four cameras on the foils which gave the analysts a great opportunity to attain real-time foil data in a race scenario whilst also considerably slowing down the rapier-fast prototype to make for closer racing.

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

With a limited sailing runway due to the axis of the breeze, the two sailing teams concentrated on pre-starts with the whippet-like AC40 able to turn faster and tighter to secure an advantage more often than not, before setting off for a couple of tack beats and then dialling back to the line to start again. Clearly the heavily tricked-up LEQ12 is, as to be expected, a more powerful beast in anything up-range but the team are eyeing lighter winds that could bring the performances closer and play into the strengths of the AC40.

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Speaking afterwards, Francesco Bruni, helmsman on the AC40 and always an open-book to interview, gave a great insight into the team’s thinking around this training block saying: “First all today we had this hydro drag on the foils which slowed down the LEQ and then we are trying to do our best to keep up in the AC40. The AC40 is way easier to manoeuvre around the starting line so we have that part us an advantage for us and we try to use that advantage as much as we can and so I think we had in general a little bit better starts with the AC40. But it’s our first day, we’re learning how to do it better, we have all our coaches thinking on how to engage as much as we can, and I think it was a positive day as really the first day because the other day was too windy and wavy.”

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Talking about the outputs and what the sailors can learn from two-boating, Francesco commented: “I think it’s a very big learning to have two boats close together especially for the sailing team to discuss all the moves not only in the pre-start but also on the racecourse. Today the focus was more on the pre-start, as the area we could sail was quite small, so we focused a lot on pre-start and the first couple of tacks and then coming back to the start but there will be days where the boats will go a little bit closer in performance where we could actually do the full race.”

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

INEOS Britannia, NYYC American Magic and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have all called a lay day for Thursday but Alinghi Red Bull Racing are scheduled to sail again in Jeddah with Emirates Team New Zealand sailing in Auckland again. Orient Express Racing is currently in the shed for what’s believed to be foil modifications ahead of full recon starting next week. Stay tuned. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: A blown seal on a hydraulic ram on board NYYC American Magic’s second generation AC75 Patriot halted today’s sailing session within five minutes of it having begun. 

Wary of a forecast of strong winds this afternoon the Americans rolled Patriot out of the shed at 0750 and had the boat rigged and launched ready to dock out on time at 1000. After towing a couple of miles offshore the MN7 mainsail and J1.5-2 headsail were hoisted, and the boat set off on starboard upwind at 1040 in 7-8 knots of breeze from 220 and a long interval chop of about 0.6 metres.

Despite the sea-state, Patriot looked to be stable in flight as it powered upwind at over 30 knots. However, after a tack to port the boat dropped off the foils and stopped after just five minutes sailing. After 15 minutes the headsail was dropped and bagged and taken off the boat. A further 15 minutes later and the process of dropping the mainsail began.

The boat was towed back to the harbour on foils where the team originally planned to carry out repairs on the dock (estimated to take two hours). However, after another assessment – and given the darkening skies and worsening weather – the decision was made to cancel sailing for the day.

On-Water Recon Report – INEOS Britannia: Team INEOS Britannia craned to the water their two AC40s, Sienna(b) at 06.45 am and Athena(a) at 07:05, in one-design configuration. Both boats had been left out of the shed with the mast rigged overnight. At 07.58 am the team docked out, with the intention to avoid the strong winds that were forecast for later during the day.

One-design mainsails and J2s were hoisted while coming out of the harbour at 08:06 and 08:15, respectively, just before sunrise. At the same time, Chase One set an upwind-downwind course at the racing area. Unfortunately, once we got to the race area the five knots breeze that prevailed at that time, had died completely and the waiting began. At 09.45 the team decided to head further offshore with both boats on the tow, looking for the breeze. Finally, at 10.00 the breeze filled in and both boats started to speed test.

Two long upwinds and one long downwind were carried out. None of the two boats can be said was dominant in speed or angle today. During these speed tests five to ten knots of breeze prevailed with lots of ups and downs in intensity, a lot of instability, combined with an uncomfortable swell. It seemed like both boats were trying to always sail at maximum VMG.

By 10.55 the wind died, and the team decided to tow back both boats towards the racing area. On the way there, the wind increased again and they were released to continue to sail downwind.

At 11.30 we were back at the racecourse, with a stable and steady south-westerly of 14 to 15 knots of intensity that remained until the end of the session.

The first match race got underway, but unfortunately AC40(b) was forced to abandon at the top mark, apparently due to issues on one of the actuators. This marked the end of the day for ‘Sienna,’ that had to be towed back to the base in displacement mode. 

AC40(a) continued with the session on their own, after replacing the J2 for the J3, doing three more races that included the pre-start, plus a one-lap upwind-downwind, performing three to four tacks on the upwinds and two to three gybes on the downwinds.

To close the training, Athena did two long upwinds and one long downwind practicing some tacks and gybes, before heading back to the port.

‘Athena’ entered the port at 13:15, sails were lowered a few minutes after and the team docked at 13:30. By that time, AC40(b) was already out of the water and in the shed.

By 13.50 AC40(a) was out of the water and ready to be de-rigged. (Sebastian Peri Brusa)

On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: The Italians rolled out their AC40 (white) at 12:00 and their LEQ12(red) at 12:30, stepped masts and craned in respectively at 12:20 and 12:45. Both wings of the red yacht were mounted with two GoPros monitoring flow on the wings. Once the respective crew members boarded the pods, both yachts were docked out at 13:50. The forecast looked similar to the previous day and the team had to chase down the south-westerly breeze and waves offshore of Pula. As sails were being hoisted, M2-1 + J4 on red and OD M1 + J4 on white, the pressure was measured 12-14kn from 225 TWA then shifting slightly to the right and increasing to 15-17 with some short period sea-state of approx. 0.4m from 190° overlapped to some wind chop.

On the first stint, white was quickly on foil while the red yacht was towed up, tacked on starboard tack and bore away, heading to the white. Even if the white yacht had approx. 15 seconds advantage, the red seemed to be much quicker downwind pointing deeper. However, for any precise boat speed comparison, the sea-state of the day provides some uncertainties. Overall, the red yacht looked more stable and successful on manoeuvres and finding stability sailing in the sea-state downwind, presumably due to its higher righting moment.

As both yachts came off the foils trimming up after the downwind run, the wind had dropped and so the team towed both yachts further south. With a decent split between the two, red and white were on same tacks for a while and from that perspective similar boat speeds seemed to be achieved with the red yacht not fully powered. While the white yacht kept on sailing, the red yacht was decelerated and subsequently towed up twice.

At 14:35 red was back up and foiling and seemed to be sailing around a virtual course without engaging closely with white for two upwind and two legs. Then two pre-starts with time on distance were observed with white on starboard and red on port entries, the first one was won by white while the second saw the red yacht leading after white nose-dived. While sailing its own race, the LEQ12 suddenly splashed down when the leeward appendage seemed to broach through the water exiting a tack manoeuvre.

At 15:05 both yachts were towed up and the wind shifted further to the right, now with 12-14kn from 235°. Both yachts practiced some tacks without engaging before decelerating and stopping again. Then white and red engaged in a short tacking duel in which the LEQ12 seemed again to point higher and faster compared to white.

According to the team, the red yacht has been tuned to slow it down, achieving two comparable boats for these days. The chase boats then stopped and were used as marks to practice a series of pre-starts while the pressure had shifted further to the right. Out of three starts the first one was led by red, the second by white and the last one by red again after white nose-dived bearing away.

After that, red kept on practicing manoeuvres spending more two board time in the transition while being definitely more consistent compared to white which had retired for the day. The pressure had decreased further, and the team towed the LEQ12 up to sailing a longer while downwind, pumping and over-sheeting the mainsail, before coming off the foils in a lull and calling it a day.

Sails were lowered at 16:40 with approx. 108 minutes foiling time and approx. 25 tacks and 23 gybes for the red yacht [Michele Melis AC Recon].

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