Monday, February 26, 2024
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupDuel in the Sun: Boat-on-Boat Training Lights Up Barcelona Harbor

Duel in the Sun: Boat-on-Boat Training Lights Up Barcelona Harbor

It was legendary rock singer Freddie Mercury that nicknamed Barcelona as the ‘Jewel in the Sun’ but today it was far more the ‘Duel in the Sun’ with perfect conditions for the Swiss, Americans and British to get vital boat-on-boat training both in terms of race sharpness and outright speed-testing. The harbour entrance was a crowded spot with all three teams holding for the afternoon pressure build before docking out at 12.30pm.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

What greeted them was perfection. Barcelona can serve up magic at times and this was one of the glamour days of the winter training schedule. Chilly, yes, and all the sailors were decked out in their nattiest drysuits but an air temperature nudging 17 degrees as the afternoon wore on, saw no-one complaining. Winter training at its finest.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Being closest to the harbour entrance with their MB92 base right opposite the World Trade Centre in Barcelona, NYYC American Magic were sharp and keen to get out for a full afternoon. The Americans very much look to be into sail trim training with long straight-lines and some interesting repetitive mainsail trim downwind which has very much been their hallmark from the start of their AC40 training and campaigning. The Americans have gone back to full one design foil mode to eliminate any speed gains in that area – one suspects the whole foil development programme is now over – and to maximise their boat-on-boat training.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Paul Goodison was sailing with Harry Melges on America whilst Tom Slingsby and Lucas Calabrese helmed Magic and over the course of four and a half hours, it was a paper thin difference between the crews in terms of outright speed, although America with Michael Menninger and Kyle Langford trimming appeared to just come out ahead when it mattered in the racing. Plenty to debrief afterwards.

Severin Gramm, one of the nominated Youth American Magic team members and nicknamed ‘Magic Man’ as he always sails on Magic (that’s a name that could well stick for decades) gave a superb interview after sailing saying: “I thought it was really productive day, it was our second day back actually sailing with the two AC40s so just getting into the swing of things, productivity is really high and just learning it every day so it’s really great… concentration’s high, on practise racing day like there’s a lot of other things you need to think about so different boats and racing conditions and other variables are changing, so it’s kind of just increasing or decreasing your bandwidth depending on what’s important in that moment.”


Bang on the same racetrack, and often crossing with the Americans was INEOS Britannia who put in a stellar day, similar in outlook to American Magic with plenty of long 2-3 mile straight-line speed tests followed by short-course racing with a concentration on pre-start positioning in a very small box. Almost for certain, the British have ironed out or got to the bottom of the fundamental speed issue that was seriously affecting Athena last week although on flat water, small differences could be seen over the longer distances as the team tested through different aspect LEQ12 jibs.


Talking about the perceived differences in those jib set ups, helmsman Giles Scott commented: “Very subtle, I mean today it was very flat water with the wind very steady and the differences were pretty marginal with the LEQ12 jib. I didn’t sail with it today, I did yesterday and there’s a few things that are different with it obviously, and we’re looking at it. There’s only so much we can really do with the jibs and the way that the one design boats are set up but it’s been certainly interesting to get our own ‘fruit’ on.”


And when asked about the variables in the pre-start, Giles added: “We’ve been playing around with the (pre-start box) sizing and what it means for the various approaches. I think everyone’s seen that these boats are super manoeuvrable especially in 10 knots and over in flat water so yeah plenty of options for both boats with double tacks, gybes, circles here and there so yeah plenty to play with.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Alinghi Red Bull Racing meanwhile, docked out their AC75 ‘BoatZero’ for another full-on, all-in, no-holds-barred session, recording another four and a half impressive hours with an improving foil-to-foil ratio (88%) and some interesting racing against the Chase Boat to provide that boat-on-boat sensation. Clearly the focus is on testing out new componentry that was fitted over last weekend and tested by the technicians on Monday with multiple board raises observed in flight and the sailors bedding in the new technology around the mast base area.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

On the water today was Design Co-Ordinator Adolfo Carrau, the vital link between on-water activity and the Marcelino Botin design office for Alinghi Red Bull Racing and he gave an interesting interview afterwards. Talking about the design team’s work, Adolfo commented “I think we have pushed a lot, I think as any other of the teams you’ll see very radical designs out there…we’re here to win the next America’s Cup so we’ve got to put everything on the table here. The boats are going to be much better in light airs and then up range we’ll see how they go.” 

In terms of simulations, Adolfo was asked a direct question about the number of simulations the team have run: “Thousands. The machine never stops. The search for boat speed will not stop until the last race, so the simulations are going on non-stop…gains need to be found everywhere and the rule’s a bit more open on the logic side so there’s a lot of emphasis on that side, apart from all the rest, you need to be the best in every area.”

On Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: More perfect close to perfect conditions prevailed in Barcelona today allowing the NYYC American Magic team to put together what looked like a second highly productive day of two-boat testing using their pair of AC40s. Both boats were rigged and launched by midday and by 1230 the two crews had left the dock.

Sails were hoisted inside the harbour by 1255 with America on a C5 mainsail and a J1.5 C1 headsail while Magic was on a C4 mainsail and a J1.5 C2 headsail. The boats left the harbour at 1300 and on a super-flat sea and an 11-knot breeze from 200 degrees and set off on a 10-minute downwind run with one foiling gybe.

After a brief stop the two boats completed a single 10 minute upwind / downwind lap with one foiling tack and two foiling gybes before stopping to change headsails: America J2 C5 / Magic J2 C4. A 10-minute straight-line upwind leg on starboard followed with America appearing to have a marginal speed and height advantage. The two boats stopped at 1400: Magic only for five minutes before setting off on a 10 minute windward / leeward lap; while the crew on America set about dropping the mainsail to swap it to a C2. Dropping the sail appeared to be an issue and the whole process took close to 45 minutes.

After 15 minutes more setup on both boats the pair were airborne again on a 20-minute flight that featured a short upwind and then very long downwind (just one foiling gybe) and ended at a spot around 10 miles from the harbour entrance. This stop lasted 40 minutes and we observed a technician with a laptop go down below on both boats.

The pair set off again at 1600 heading upwind for 25 minutes with just one foiling tack. A five-minute break followed before the final session of the day – a short tacking upwind match race back to the harbour mouth where a short windward leeward loop was conducted to finish the day (see video below). America came out the comfortable winner of this battle however the boats split apart considerably at times so the advantage could well have been windshift related.

Time was called at 1700 with the two boats back on the dock by 1730. A final sailing session for this week has been scheduled for tomorrow Friday February 2.

On-Water Recon Report – INEOS Britannia: INEOS Britannia craned to the water their two AC40s, Sienna(b) and Athena(a) in one-design foil configuration, at 10.28 and 10.45, 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 12:35. Immediately after, AC40(b) hoisted the LEQ12_J2-4 jib, while AC40(a) saw a one-design J2 come up at 12:44, while heading out of the harbour. Similar conditions to the day before: A south-south-westerly sea-breeze of 10 to 14 knots of intensity, dying towards the end of the day; combined with a flat sea-state, prevailed during the session.

After warming up for twenty minutes, at 13:20 the two-boat speed-testing training started, performing two long upwinds and downwinds, switching sides and maintaining a small lateral distance in between boats. The first upwind-downwind was executed with the mentioned sails, while before the start of the second upwind at 14:10, the LEQ12_J2-4 was replaced for a one-design J2 on AC40(b), after a short break.

On both downwind legs, there was extreme parity in between boats. However, when sailing upwind on starboard tack, on the two upwinds, either being to windward or to leeward, AC40(a) was slightly faster no matter which of the two jibs AC40(b) was sailing with. In contrast, on port tack differences were minimal.

At 14:50 boats A and B were back at the racecourse area to start their two-boat racing practice. A total of eight starts using marks occurred, with both boats switching sides for the entries on multiple times.

– Race 1: The first race started at 15:02 with an evened start. A to windward and B to leeward with a 5 boat-length lateral gap. A was able to tack on the bow of B on the first cross and control the race from there on. After four tacks A rounded the top left gate on the lead. A did three gybes on the downwind and rounded the right gate looking upwind, maintaining their six second lead. On the following cross, A had extended their lead and the race was abandoned halfway of the second upwind

– Race 2: A started to leeward of B, forcing the other boat to tack. On the first cross A was ahead by a considerable margin and then the race was abandoned halfway of the first upwind leg. 

– Race 3: B fell-off from the foils when 15 seconds were remaining to the start. A started on time on the line. Then the race was abandoned right after the start

In between races three and four there was a 20-minute break from 15:30 till 15:50 in which a battery replacement took place and boat B quickly dropped and re-hoisted their one-design J2 to adjust something on the top.

– Race 4: B approached the start coming on close-hauled course from far away, arriving late to the line. A was able to swing ahead of B and start ahead. A stayed ahead, covering B the entire first upwind and rounded the top right gate with a 10 second lead. On the downwind B that was behind got a puff on the left side (looking upwind) of the course and closed the gap, being bow-to-bow on the first downwind cross. B had to head up to cross behind A who came on starboard. Both boats headed to the left gate looking upwind. A rounded ahead but had a poor mark rounding falling from the foils, and B sailed past A on their leeward side. At that moment the race was abandoned.

– Race 5: Both boats started on opposite ends of the line, A at the starboard end and B close to the pin end. A crossed ahead on the first cross by three boat lengths and extended. The race was abandoned halfway of the first upwind.

– Race 6: Both boats had an evened start with B to leeward and A to windward. After the first tack B was able to hold the line just to windward of A, despite the small gap in between boats, all the way till the starboard layline. One more tack and B rounded ahead the top left mark, while A had to do one extra tack to round the opposite gate. B extended on the downwind and rounded the right gate looking upwind after doing three gybes with a 4-second lead. A few meters after the gate rounding, B continued to be ahead and then the race was stopped.

– Race 7: A started to windward of B, but with a very small lateral gap. B headed up and forced A to tack. That generated a big split in between the two boats sailing to opposite sides of the course. B found better breeze on the left side and crossed ahead of A. B rounded in the lead the top left gate with a 15-second gap and maintained the distance on the downwind rounding the right leeward gate looking upwind, after three gybes. Then the race was abandoned.

– Race 8: The last race had an evened start with both boats close to the pin end, B to leeward and A to windward. The parity continued the entire upwind leg, arriving almost together at the top gate. Then both boats headed towards the port. 

At 17:00 both boats entered the port, lowered their sails and docked at 17:16. Boat B was the first of the two to be craned out of the water at 17:40, A followed. One more very productive day on the water for Team IB. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on INEOS Britannia

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s AC75, Boat Zero, was rolled out at 10:00, ahead of a day of testing, pre-start practice, and a three lap race versus the chase boat. Standard checks were carried out, with more attention to FCS and mast rotation testing.

The team docked out at 12:30, with the M2-2R mainsail and J2-2L jib initially hoisted in port, while the J3-1R and J4-1R jibs were carried on the chase boat. Notably, Adolfo Carrau (Design Coordinator),

Yves Courvoisier (R&D Engineer) and Arthur Rozand (Performance Prediction Engineer) followed the day from the Catalyst chase boat.

Stint 1 (13:00 – 13:15): The yacht set off from the port entrance, sailing a concise downwind/upwind/downwind warm-up, transitioning through manoeuvres and a leeward mark rounding. The decision to switch from the J2 to the J4-1R jib was prompted by the increasing wind.

Stint 2 (13:30 – 13:52, 10-14.5kn 210° @ 13:20): This stint focused on refining round-up and bear-away manoeuvres, revealing slight inconsistencies in port-side executions, touching down on a bear-away and two touch-and-go round ups. The team practiced two board down sailing, bearing away then quickly rounding up, as well as slowing the boat right down while keeping it on foil. 

Stint 3 (13:58 – 14:30, 9-13.5kn 205° @ 13:55): The team repeated a test seen yesterday: a long stretch sailing straight, dropping and lifting the starboard foil, both upwind and downwind. The upwind leg was 2.5NM while downwind was 4NM. This was followed by more sailing on foil at low speed with two boards down.

Stint 4 (14:34 – 14:44, 10-14.4kn 205° @ 14:35): The team sailed a long upwind back upwind to the start line, after which a battery exchange was carried out. The full cyclor team swapped out at 14:50 for fresh legs for the remaining three stints.

Stint 5 (15:10 – 15:40, 8-12kn 210° @ 15:10): Three practice starts were carried out, with the yacht entering on port, and the chase boat entering on starboard. A touch down tack in the second start saw them start 20s late, as the wind slightly decreased. The J4 was consequently exchanged to the J3-1R, ahead of the last stint.

Stint 6 (15:53 – 16:30, 8-12kn 210° @ 15:55): Start 4 saw the yacht entering the start on port, continued into a three-lap race versus the chase boat. A tacking battle was simulated, as multiple cover manoeuvres were observed. A single upwind mark was set at a bearing of 215 from the start-line, with a course length of 1.5 NM. Two roundings were to starboard, the last to port.

Following a comprehensive day, sails were lowered by 16:40, concluding over four hours on the water. 145 minutes were spent sailing, during which 59 manoeuvres were observed, with an 88% fully foiling rate.

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