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HomeRegattaAmerica's CupBarcelona's Perfect Sailing Day: Ideal Testing Conditions for Alinghi Red Bull Racing,...

Barcelona’s Perfect Sailing Day: Ideal Testing Conditions for Alinghi Red Bull Racing, NYYC American Magic, and INEOS Britannia

After two days of virtual glass-out conditions which restricted training, yesterday Barcelona came alive with a beautiful southerly afternoon breeze and clear blue skies with plenty of sunshine giving Alinghi Red Bull Racing, NYYC American Magic and INEOS Britannia ideal testing conditions.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

The pent-up enthusiasm to get a solid day on the water was palpable around the Port Vell but the teams had to wait for the breeze to build in the early afternoon. When it came, it was sublime, building to a beautiful south-south-westerly of 10-13 knots with decent waves to play with and perfect for outright speed and component testing as well as some dynamic short course racing.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Alinghi Red Bull racing docked out their AC75 at 12.30pm and headed straight for the America’s Cup racecourse area off the Barceloneta waterfront which was to become a crowded playpark all afternoon. After some warm-up laps, the Swiss were down to business with plenty of pre-start action, throwing ‘BoatZero’ around with remarkable confidence and pushing the manoeuvres hard which perhaps explains the 77% foil-to-foil success rate over a whopping 77 tacks and gybes. 

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

It was a big day for the Swiss who have been eager to test out their new, and unseen, systems below deck with plenty of concentration on the foil cant system and mast rotation – both of which have been upgraded. Crew were rotated through the day, as were the helms, and this was a real full-on team afternoon for the Swiss who were beaming after over four hours in perfect conditions.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

The same was true for NYYC American Magic who docked out their two AC40s at the same time as both the Swiss and the British with what looked very much like a clear intention to assess sail shape and conduct speed tests. A new thinner aspect mainsail was featured and the recon team noted remarkable similarities in terms of boatspeed between the two American LEQ12 moded AC40’s.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Long speed tests were conducted – this wasn’t the day for high manoeuvre counts for the Americans who docked-in just before 6pm as the sun was way down the mountainside to the west. Solid day of training for the team that again featured the highly experienced Kyle Langford – long time sailing buddy of Tom Slingsby – alongside the fast-driving Youth Team members of Harry Melges and Severin Gramm. Not to forget the likes of Lucas Calabrese, Paul Goodison Andrew Campbell and Michael menninger who all featured onboard the two yachts this afternoon.

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

Training on the same patch today, and at a super-high intensity, the relentless INEOS Britannia who have been willing the weather to break all week, were determined to put the hammer down today and get their two one-design moded AC40s – Athena and Sienna – into real race action.

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

No less than ten starts of short course racing were executed today and the recon team noted a remarkable turnaround in form for Athena, the boat that was suffering with speed issues last week, and could barely discern any difference over some very close racing. INEOS Britannia have technical skill in abundance and whatever they dug into over the weekend – clearly they found gold and the answer. Gteat reporting below on each races from Argentinian Olympic Coach, Sebastian Peri Brusa. 

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

Meanwhile down in Auckland, Emirates Team New Zealand had a technical issue almost immediately after dock-out that couldn’t be resolved on the water and the LEQ12 had to return to base early after no sailing.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Blair Tuke, Flight Controller, summed the day up perfectly saying: “Beautiful morning here Tamaki Makaurau, we were sneaking out at 9am trying to catch the southerly breeze before it died off, similar day yesterday wind wise, and it kind of had a bit of a lull in the middle of the day before the sou-wester pushed back in so we were trying to get the morning breeze. Unfortunately, on the tow-out, just as we’re getting going, we had a little issue onboard which shut us down for the day so yeah pretty disappointing to be honest, we sort of pride of ourselves on being able to make the most of the time on the water and today wasn’t one of those, so definitely we’ll have a good review and tighten up on some of our processes.”

Conditions look perfect at all the training venues for a strong end to the week for all the teams in the 37thAmerica’s Cup. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out Boat Zero at 10:00 and craned in at 10:35 after stepping the mast. GoPros were placed on extensions on the masthead, on the transom looking at the rudder, 2m above the mast base looking down at the jib track, as well as on the deck looking up at the mainsail, and looking down at the foils.

After standard systems checks, the M2-2R mainsail and J2-2L jib were prepared on deck before 12:30 dock-out. The J2 was exchanged with the J3-1R jib before hoisting the sails in port. Today’s testing involved systems testing, pre-start practice, and a three-lap race versus the chase boat. The sea state presented a residual swell from the southeast, which was flatter compared to the previous day, with a slight wind chop as the wind increased.

Stint 1 (13:00 – 13:13, 8-11kn 200° @ 13:00): The yacht started with a short warmup downwind, executing three gybes. The two gybes to port resulted in touch downs.

Stint 2 (13:17 – 13:38, 7-9.5kn 190° @ 13:15): This stint focused on short upwind/downwind legs, with manoeuvres to port proving less consistent, leading to a short debrief, with the technical crew also jumping onboard.

Stint 3 (13:48 – 14:03, 11-14.5kn 190° @ 13:45): Longer legs of upwind/downwind were sailed, as the team continued to drill manoeuvres. This was followed with round-up and bear-away practice.

Stint 4 (14:10 – 14:35, 7-10kn 195° @ 14:10): This stint involved dropping and lifting the windward foil numerous times. This was first done upwind, then downwind, only with the starboard foil.

Stint 5 (14:40 – 14:47, 8-12kn 200° @ 14:40): A short upwind was sailed to the course start, followed by a battery and a full cyclor swap, with Barnabé Delarze, Arthur Cevey, Franco Noti, and Nico Stahlberg jumping off; and Théry Schir, Nils Theuninck, Paul Jacquot, and Augustin Maillefer substituting on.

Stint 6 (15:05 – 15:35, 7.5-11kn 195° @ 15:00): The team engaged in pre-start practice, with three starts carried out in this stint. The yacht entered all three starts on port, improving their timing on each attempt.

Stint 7 (15:40 – 16:14, 8-12kn 205° @ 15:40): Concluding the day was a 3-lap race against the Chase Boat, with a right-side bias and a windward mark bearing of 185°. After rounding the set windward mark on the first lap, the yacht rounded the Catalyst Chase Boat for the second and third laps, which was positioned further upwind. In the latter legs, the team were more pro-active in tacking and covering the chase boat.

Sails were dropped at 16:25 and the team docked-in 20 minutes later, as the yacht was craned out at 17:15. The crew spent just over four hours on the water, with 145 minutes of sailing time. A total of 77 manoeuvres were observed, with a 77% fully foiling rate.

On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: The American team took full advantage of near perfect weather conditions with a five and a half hour two boat testing session using the AC40s Magic and America.

Both boats had remained rigged in their cradles overnight and were each craned into the water by 1120 ahead of a double dock out at 1225. Both boats were rigged inside the harbour: America with a C4 mainsail and a J2-5 headsail; Magic with a C5 mainsail and a J2-5 headsail (a J1.5 C2 headsail had been briefly hoisted but was not used).

The two boats were out of the harbour at 1300 and after a short delay to re-hoist America’s headsail after it came off the halyard lock, the pair set off on a long downwind run. With the wind touching ten knots and the sea state flat the boats were sailing in close formation at speeds in the mid to high thirties.

A stop at 1325 saw the mainsail dropped on America for what looked to be a re-tensioning of the battens. Another long windward/leeward lap followed that lasted 35 minutes but featured just three tacks and two gybes (all foiling) with the crews clearly more focused on sailing in close formation upwind and down.

With the breeze edging up to 12-14 knots by 1430 the two crews changed headsails (America to the J3-5 and Magic to an unidentified J3). A twenty-minute close formation minimal manoeuvres windward/leeward session followed before a stop at 1510 that saw both boats drop sails.

After the team’s largest C2 chase boat made a fast run back to the base and returned the boats were rigged as follows: America: MN C3 mainsail (very narrow profile, particularly at the head) and J2; Magic C4 mainsail and J2 headsail.

The teams were back on foils at 1615 for a final prolonged (75 minute) windward leeward session that featured more close formation straight line sailing upwind and downwind with just a handful of tacks and gybes, but finished with a long tacking session up the Barcelona city front which saw the two teams dog fighting each other all the way.

Over the day there was no discernible performance difference that could be detected from the recon boat. The American Magic flotilla arrived back in the harbour at 1740 with both boats back on the pontoon by 1800. Another sailing session is planned for tomorrow, Thursday February 1.

On-Water Recon Report – INEOS Britannia: INEOS Britannia craned to the water their two AC40s, Athena(a) and Sienna(b) in one-design foils configuration, at 10.37 and 10.52, respectively; that had been left with their masts up and out of the shed overnight. Normal routine activities were performed before docking out at 12.30, as planned.

One-design mainsails were hoisted on both boats at 12:40. Immediately after, AC40(b) hoisted a one-design J2, while the LEQ12_J2-4 with triangular top and narrow head came up on AC40(a) at 12:50, while heading out of the harbour.

A very stable south-south-westerly sea-breeze of 10 to 13 knots of intensity prevailed during the day, providing almost ideal conditions for speed-testing and racing.

For the first half an hour, both boats warmed-up, mostly sailing on their own, doing three upwind-downwind laps combined with some tacks and gybes.

At 13:30 the two-boat speed-testing session started, performing two long upwinds and one long downwind, switching sides and maintaining always a small lateral distance in between boats. In this opportunity, the parity in between Athena and Sienna was remarkable, especially when comparing to the differences that were observed last week on that day in which conditions were very similar. Today there was no clear faster boat, neither upwind nor downwind.

By 14:30 the team was back at the racecourse area and after a twenty-minute break, both boats were ready for racing with special focus on the pre-starts. A total of 10 races using marks were started, with both boats switching sides for the entries on multiple times.

– Race 1: Boat B had a better start to leeward and closer to the pin end that was significantly favoured. B was ahead on the first cross and played the shifts better than A, that was forced to go against the phase. B rounded the top mark in the lead, maintained the six-second gap on the downwind leg and extended on the second upwind protecting the left side staying in phase with the shifts, to win the race.

– Race 2: B again had a better start closer to the pin. Lee-bowed A on the first cross, not too far to the starboard layline. Boat A was able to hold the line and to push B past the port layline, rounding in the lead the top right gate after tacking. A maintained the lead on the downwind and rounded the left gate looking upwind with a five-second gap. Half-way on the second upwind the race was abandoned.

– Race 3: Once more B had a better start to leeward and ahead of A, closer to the pin end that was biased. Crossed ahead of A on the first opportunity and at that moment the race was abandoned.

– Race 4: B fell-off from the foils when 20 seconds were remaining to the start. ‘A’ started on time, on the line. Then the race was abandoned.

– Race 5: Just before the start, A to leeward of B had a dominant position standing both boats on the starboard starting mark layline, with A controlling the acceleration, squeezing B. A started faster and ahead. Nevertheless, racing remained very close, and B took advantage of the last right shift of the first upwind leg, rounding ahead of A. B maintained the lead at the gates with a seven second gap and then the race was abandoned halfway of the second upwind.

– Race 6: Boat A got positioned too early too close to the starting line, with too much time to burn, and B came around from behind on the leeward side, forcing A to tack. B had a better start with more speed without tacking. On the first cross B was ahead and then the race was abandoned.

– Race 7: A almost capsized on the first gybe after entering the box on starboard tack, at that time the race was abandoned. 

– Race 8: A started ahead and to windward of B, after maintaining a dominant position to leeward of B, very close, squeezing B to the layline of the starboard end starting mark, controlling when to accelerate. After starting the race was abandoned.

– Race 9: A controlled during the pre-start and pushed B to leeward of the pin end layline before the starting time. A crossed the line on port tack, on time, with B not making the Pin end. After starting the race was abandoned.

– Race 10: Both boats started on opposite ends of the line, B slightly better from on starboard end, being ahead on the first cross and dominating from there on. This race was continued. B rounded the top mark ahead and extended from there on. One downwind and one more upwind towards the harbour was performed.

At 17:28 both boats entered the port, lowered their sails and docked at 17:48. Boat A was the first of the two to be craned out of the water at 18:10, indicating the end of a very productive day for Team IB. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on INEOS Britannia

On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: Not a great day out on the Waitemata Harbour for Emirates Team New Zealand with an issue occurring not long after sails were hoisted.

A slightly earlier start with a 9am dock out for Day 61 of testing in the LEQ 12. Unfortunately, after hoisting sails, the session took a turn for the worse in what appeared to be a control issue on the port foil flap, although this is only speculation from what we saw, as nothing physical was apparent.

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