Monday, February 26, 2024
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HomeRegattaAmerica's CupAlinghi Red Bull Racing Thrives in AC40 Boat-on-Boat Action

Alinghi Red Bull Racing Thrives in AC40 Boat-on-Boat Action

Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s winter training investment in Jeddah pays off handsomely, delivering a thrilling display of boat-on-boat action in ideal weather conditions, reaffirming their readiness for the upcoming challenges in the America’s Cup.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

After yesterday’s capsize and subsequent damage to the ‘Red’ demarked AC40, the Swiss shore team beavered until the early hours to deliver both boats in perfect condition (all credit to them) and then with a course set, it was a relentless four hours of non-stop pre-start and short course action. The sailors didn’t disappoint with a superb display of close quarters manoeuvring, right on the ragged edge of control and for certain what’s being learned in Jeddah right now will undoubtedly be of huge benefit down the line. No other team is training at this intensity right now on the water.

The pairings of Arnaud Psarofaghis/Nicolas Charbonnier and Phil Robertson/Maxime Bachelin on the respective AC40s ensured competitiveness with everyone realising that no place on the raceboat AC75 is guaranteed.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Jeddah is the proving ground and there are no hiding places. Start after start, it was super-close with dynamic leads back into the line, ducks, fades, fakes, broaches, near-capsizes, near-misses, circles, slows, board-drops, board-hikes – absolutely every trick in the match-race book was on show with a cigarette paper width to choose between the two by the end of the session. And the short beats to windward were a masterclass in controlled, aggressive tactics with slam dunks, face-slams, dips, hooks and lee-bows aplenty before the short run downwind where the focus looked to be on wing wash covering. Brilliant sailing from the Swiss.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Speaking afterwards, Nicolas Charbonnier was beaming with enthusiasm for what’s being achieved on the water saying: “We want to push it as much as possible but we are careful about the boats because we need them to be able to sail the next day so we don’t want to go into crashes, and respect the equipment, but yeah we want to push it as much as possible – but don’t touch the other.”

Speaking as the helm on the ‘Black’ demarked AC40 that had the most dramatic of sky-rockets and near-capsize on race start number five, Nicolas gave his perspective in his usual calm manner: “Basically we were pushing the other boat and we both ended up too early so both boats had to tack and yeah the technique onboard was not perfect and we just didn’t have the best tack of the day – but all good fun.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Healthy competition is coursing through everywhere in the Alinghi Red Bull Racing operation as the business end of this America’s Cup cycle looms large and it’s no clearer than on the water today. Nicolas summed up the competitive mood saying: “The goal is to win the start – always – but according to how you’re circling you may end up in different positions, it’s just how it is, and sometimes you get one boat wanting to starting to windward and the other one wants to start to leeward and it makes the game easy but sometimes we’re fighting more.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

The grind goes on for the Swiss this weekend with more dynamite sailing planned and slowly we’re seeing more new tech coming onstream. Today it was more out of class bespoke sails and the chatter dockside is for new appendages to perhaps come out next week. There’s a buzz about Alinghi Red Bull Racing at the moment as they shine in the Arabian sun. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing commenced their third day in Jeddah with the AC40-7 (Black) and AC40-4 (Red) being rolled out at 08:40 and 09:05 respectively. No notable work was carried out other than standard system checks in the morning. The HMIs on the Red boat were repaired overnight after the damage incurred the previous day. OD mainsails and J2 OD jibs were prepared on both boats ahead of 12:00 dock-out.

Both boats were towed behind a single chase boat, testing for a Red Bull marketing stunt. Crew combinations remained the same as the previous day.

Stint 1 (12:40 – 13:20, 8-11kn 290° @ 12:40)
The session started with the Black boat sailing from 12:45 and the Red boat joining at 12:50. Initially, Black flew consistently while Red struggled but improved as the breeze soon picked up. The stint included a long upwind of split tacks, then free to compete up to the windward stationary chase boat. Starboard rounding and a downwind with split gybes, followed by a short gybing duel. Following a round up, both boats sailed upwind on port to the race course, switching windward/leeward positions and sailing in high/low modes.

Stint 2 (13:35 – 13:45, 11-14kn 285° @ 13:35)
The course was set to 285°. Start 1 of pre-start practice saw the Black boat enter on port and Red on starboard. Red forced Black to duck behind, leading to a close call and possible penalty. Red started on time, Black abandoned.

Stint 3 (13:50 – 14:10, 12-15.5kn 285° @ 13:55)
Starts 2 to 4 saw Black entering on port and Red on starboard. Red won the Start 2 in a clean start. In the third pre-start, Red touched down in a gybe to the start, allowing black to get a clear start on time. Red starts 30 seconds late. In start 4, Red chased black within three boat lengths, but temporarily loses flight in the dirty air 15 seconds to the start. Black gets clear start.

Stint 4 (14:20 – 14:50, 14-18kn 285° @ 14:20)
Start 5 saw Red boat enter on port 10 seconds late, as both boats approach early to the line and both tack at the last moment. The Black boat lifted out of water and touched down hard, but saved the capsize, as Red started on time.

Start 6 / Race 1(2 laps), was closely contested. Red enters on port, black on starboard. Black started slightly ahead to leeward, as Red tacked off immediately. A close fight to the windward gate saw Red roll over Black as they rounded to port and overtook on the downwind. Red rounded leeward gate to port a couple boat lengths ahead, both boats with two boards down. Black was able to lift the windward foil slightly earlier and kept Red in close proximity. Red controlled the upwind and rounded to port, as Black split off and rounded to starboard. Red controlled downwind, but Black crossed behind Red on the final approach to the finish and sailed to the starboard end of the finish line, which was strongly biased, while Red overshot the leyline, then dropping the windward foil to push for the line. A very close finish, the race winner was unclear.

Stint 5 (15:05 – 15:25, 14-18kn 295° @ 15:05)

Start 7, Black entered on port, red entered on starboard. Both cross the line on time, Black to leeward, Red to windward. Red crossed over on the first tack, as both boats then turned back for another start.

Start 8 / Race 2 (1 lap): Black entered on port; Red entered on starboard. Red held Black above the start line on the starboard side, before turning down to start. Red started 4s late, Black started 9s late. Red controlled the race from start to finish. A poor rounding from Black at the leeward gate caused them to touch down, ending the race.

Stint 6 (15:35 – 15:55)
With the J3 OD dropped on the Red boat and replaced with the J2-3 LE, the team carried out a short stint of sail testing against the Black boat using the J3-3 OD jib. Both boats performed a short upwind/downwind stint, before pausing briefly to adjust the jib sheet position on the clew, then sailing upwind towards the base on port tack, switching windward and leeward positions. The performance differences were marginal.

Sails were dropped by 16:00 in the Obhur Creek and the boats were craned out by 16:50. The team spent four hours on the water, with 140 minutes of sailing time. A total of 100 manoeuvres were observed, with an impressive 97% fully foiling manoeuvre rate.

ALEX CARABI / AMERICA’S CUP

ALEX CARABI / AMERICA’S CUP

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