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Alinghi Red Bull Racing Navigates Challenging Conditions in Jeddah Training

In the dynamic training environment of Jeddah, Alinghi Red Bull Racing demonstrates resilience and skill, reaffirming their readiness to tackle the complexities of America’s Cup competition. The team’s ability to excel in challenging conditions bodes well for their preparedness as they continue their journey toward the pinnacle of sailing excellence.

The outline for the day was a focus on pre-starts and short course tactical racing and where the ‘go right’ mantra seemed to have paid handsomely over recent sessions, today was a much more even course that rewarded boat handling, control and a very high degree of accuracy. Against the weather backdrop, Alinghi Red Bull Racing decided to mix up the crews once again with Arnaud Psarofaghis and Jason Waterhouse taking charge of the ‘Red’ denominated boat (by dint of having a Swiss flag on its LEQ12 mainsail) and Maxime Bachelin joining forces with Nicolas Charbonnier on the ‘Black’ boat.

What’s really emerging in this Cup cycle, and accentuated again today, was the brilliance of Arnaud Psarofaghis. Wherever he sits he appears to be in the winning seat and whilst nigh on unbeatable on the SIM, he has translated the winning ways in the computer superbly to the water. More often than not seeking the windward position off the line, Arnaud, driving from the starboard pod is a textbook pre-starter, keeping cool in the box, killing speed where required but crucially having the measure of the rapier-fast turning motion of the AC40 to nail unbeatable positions in the final countdown. Time and again today, he aced the start, securing four clear wins out of five with accurate time-on-distance and execution. One to watch when the racing action starts for all the marbles in August.

Overall, a superb near four-hour session on the photogenic warm waters of the Red Sea (air temperature was 30 degrees) and valuable for a team that is turning heads with their all-in training approach. No new appendages so far in this camp but there’s a clear direction on their beautifully finished in-house LEQ sails that appear highly tuneable across the wind range.

Much credit to the sailmakers and after sailing Gautier Sergent, one of the key Alinghi Red Bull Racing sail designers spoke to the recon team and summed up the session saying: “It was definitely top of the range, you know a bit bumpy so it’s always tricky to sail those boats in any sea-state but good to be out there and get the hang of it…it’s working out really good because we had a lot of sort of lighter conditions pre-Christmas so we got a chance to test all the bottom end of the range – the biggest sails – and now into the smaller sails at the upper end of the range and just a good compliment to the training sessions we’ve had in the past.”

Buoyed by what he saw today, Gautier added: “It’s great because obviously you want to test performance when it’s flat water and have as close as possible to what you see in the in the model but at some point, you’ve got to be prepared for those conditions, find the settings that get you a bit of forgiveness and the speed you need in these conditions.”

Back in Europe, in Cagliari Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli trained on the AC40 with their Youth & Women team members so no recon team was following them today and in Barcelona, the same was true for INEOS Britannia who one-boat AC40 sailed today with Athena Pathway members onboard – no recon. NYYC American Magic are on a six-day break and Orient Express Racing are preparing for some big days ahead with an expected launch of their AC40 in LEQ12 mode imminent. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC40-7 (Black) at 08:45, and AC40-4 (Red) following at 09:10. Both boats were craned by at 09:30. It was immediately noted that the manual flight controller was absent, indicating a return to automatic flight control systems. Standard preparations were carried out and the following LEQ jibs were prepared: J2-2, J3-1, J3-2, and J2-3,

ahead of a day of sail testing and match-race practice. GoPros were placed on the shearline of both boats, pointing up at the OD mainsails.

The crew combinations underwent a significant change, with Arnaud Psarofaghis and Jason Waterhouse helming Red, with Lucien Cujean trimming on starboard, and Bryan Mettraux on port.

Nico Charbonnier helmed Black on starboard, with Nico Rolaz trimming behind him, Maxime Bachelin helming on port and Yves Detrey trimming.

The team docked out at 11:00 under the prediction of strong winds and heavy chop later in the day. The teams hoisted One Design mainsails, with Red selecting the J3-2 LE and Black hoisting the J3-1 LE.

Stint 1 (11:20 – 12:05, 13-16kn 320° @ 11:25) The session began with both boats warming up separately, followed by parallel sail testing on long legs upwind then downwind. The wind began increasing in this stint, reaching up to 16 knots.

Stint 2 (12:15 – 12:25, 14-20kn 320° @ 12:15) During this stint, gusts reached up to 20 knots with lulls around 14 knots. Sea state also began to increase to a strong chop. Start 1 saw Black enter on port. Red on starboard, with Red starting ahead on windward. Black came to a stop with a technical issue, as Red continued solo pre-start practices. Nico Rolaz was seen working on the Jib head, as technicians jumped onboard with a computer to work on systems.

Stint 3 (12:35 – 13:10, 16-20.5kn 320° @ 12:35, 14-18.5kn 320° @ 12:50) Both boats resumed on the course. Start 2 saw Red enter on port, Black on starboard. Red touched down with a gybe, causing them to start 28 seconds delayed in comparison to Black who started on time. A third start was abandoned as technical difficulties surfaced on Red, requiring technicians to jump on board. Black continued with pre-start entries and time on distance.

Stint 4 (13:15 – 13:30, 15-19.5kn 320° @ 13:20) Start 3 saw Red enter on port, Black on starboard, as Red had a big touch down mid pre-start, but recovered to hit the line on time, rolling over Black, despite both boats 4s late. Start 4 saw Red enter on port and Black on starboard, with Black starting to windward as Red were slow off the line to leeward, touching down with both boards down, possibly due to lack of battery power, as batteries were subsequently changed.

Stint 5 (13:50 – 14:15, 15-19kn 320° @ 13:55) The course was set to 320 degrees. Start 5 / Race 1 saw Red enter on port and Black on starboard. Red won the start on windward and continued sailing to the left, as Black immediately split and sailed to the right. Red led at the singular windward mark ,which was rounded to starboard, but Black snuck into the lead sailing at a lower angle downwind. Black gybed first and Red followed but touched down heavily, bringing them to a stop. Black continued to win the race, shortened to one lap, as they rounded the leeward gate with both foils down. After a brief pause, Black completed an additional lap as Red took some time to recover.

A very aggressive chop of 1m wave height at 4s period made it difficult to follow the race pace.

Stint 6 (14:20 – 14:40, 15-20kn 320° @ 14:30) While Red resolved technical issues on board, Black continued practice. Start 6 / Race 2 saw Black enter on port, while Red entered on starboard with a touch and go gybe. Red won the start on windward, as Black tacked off immediately, with Red following shortly after. Red looked slow upwind with the jib notably eased, they then turned downwind and called it a day, sailing back to base. Black completed a lap of the course and continued back to base.

The day concluded with sails dropped by 14:50 and dock in at 14:55, with both boats craned out by 15:35. Over four hours on the water, the teams spent 150 minutes sailing, with a total of 73 manoeuvres observed of the Red boat. The overall fully foiling rate was 81%, reflecting the challenging conditions and adjustments made throughout the day.

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