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HomeRegattaAmerica's CupLouis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup – January Recap

Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup – January Recap

Teams engagement in the 37th America’s Cup is pivotal, and here’s a recap of the key events from January

‘PATRIOT’ SIGNS-OFF FROM ACTIVE SERVICE

She’s one of the most recognisable AC75s in the world with a back-story rich in hope, despair, redemption and pay-back but for now, it’s a graceful retirement for NYYC American Magic’s ‘Patriot.’

Looking back on Patriot, Terry Hutchinson who sailed aboard her at AC36 and is now the Skipper and President of Sailing Operations for NYYC American Magic commented: “Patriot has been an enormous asset to the overall NYYC American Magic programme. We’ve learned so much from her and, as everyone knows, we’ve been through a lot together. Sometimes a boat gets into your soul and Patriot will always have a place in our hearts when we reflect on the America’s Cup. As a workhorse and test platform, she’s been vital for our latest stage of systems and crew technique development. Maybe we’ll see her again, but for now, we wish Patriot a peaceful retirement – she’s earned it.”

EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND

The outstanding winners of the Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in November 2023, Emirates Team New Zealand returned to Auckland for the antipodean summer and immediately went into intensive training on their much-tweaked AC40 in LEQ12 mode.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Immediately upon arrival back, the core sailing team were presented with a new starboard foil and just five days later this was complimented on port with their final foil design. Early tests proved to be promising through the wind ranges with notable stability on the newer port foil with its elliptical trailing edge design sitting off a leeway reduce side-walled, sharp, bomb like bulb. Emirates Team New Zealand are now deep into that foil analysis on the LEQ12 ahead of making final design decisions for their raceboat AC75 that is well advanced at their North Shore build facility.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Whilst the helms and trimmers keep their eye in, there is plenty going on behind the scenes with the cyclor team on relentless bike rides and fitness tests ahead of the new launch that the team have said will happen in Auckland before the end of the summer to get initial testing on home waters before shipping up to Barcelona for the European summer season. It is expect that the sailing team will switch to AC40s in one-design mode, once the foil analysis is complete, in the coming months to keep pre-start and short course racing technique skills honed. All systems go right now for the Defenders of the 37th America’s Cup.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Spotlight on: Bobby Kleinschmit – Principal Naval Architect

If Emirates Team New Zealand defend the Cup in Barcelona in 2024, it will be in no small part to the genius of Bobby Kleinschmit.I grew up dreaming of designing America’s Cup boats and wanted to be a naval architect from age 11,” says Bobby Kleinschmit, the principal naval architect for Emirates Team New Zealand with a huge responsibility for foil design decisions. Kleinschmit’s background in the Cup is significant having started his career after graduation in 2006 with the famous multihull design office of Morelli & Melvin in California. When the Cup switched from monohulls in 2007 to a Deed of Gift Challenge in multihulls in 2010, Kleinschmit was catapulted into the America’s Cup, contributing to hull design and VPP projects of the giant BMW Oracle trimaran to challenge the holders, Alinghi. After the Americans won, Kleinschmit was part of the M&M team that proposed catamarans for the 2013 and, on loan from the design office, Bobby moved to Auckland and worked with Emirates Team New Zealand to design their AC72.

Foiling was, at the time, just a concept but Kleinschmit worked with the team on development of C-shaped foils for 33 foot test-catamarans- which would ultimately bring foiling into the America’s Cup. When the AC72 was launched, it was pictured foiling in Auckland and the course of America’s Cup design was changed forevermore. A switch in design firms in 2014 to Guillaume Verdier in France, saw Bobby applying foiling techniques to large offshore multihulls, but in late 2014 he returned to Auckland and began work with Emirates Team New Zealand full time on the 2017 foiling catamaran challenge for the Cup in Bermuda. The Kiwis won the regatta, introducing cyclors for the first time in place of grinders and took the Cup back to New Zealand and in the process introduced the radical new AC75 foiling monohull class that Kleinschmit helped to develop for the 36th America’s Cup. Bobby was a critical part of the design team that created ‘Te Rehutai’, the now famous kiwi AC75 that beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli to successfully defend the cup in 2021. Today, for the 37th America’s Cup, he’s a man in demand, deeply respected by his peers and the team.


 INEOS BRITANNIA

Having de-commissioned their prototype LEQ12 on the 13th November 2023, the Challenger of Record for the 37th America’s Cup INEOS Britannia, has now switched focus to two-boat training in the team’s AC40s whilst investing a lot of time in the final build process of their new AC75 – codenamed ‘RB3’- over the Christmas period – a process that Sir Ben Ainslie described as “intense.”

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

For now, the Barcelona-based sailing team are really focussing on pre-start and match-racing practice and recently lifted the lid through social media on their impressive ‘Mission Control’ that monitors the sessions in real-time with live data being sent back to the base and on to Mercedes Applied Science headquarters in Brackley, Northamptonshire. Plenty has been made by the team of the learnings they fostered from the build process of their prototype ‘T6’ in conjunction with Mercedes Applied Science. A recent interview with James Allison, the Chief Technical Officer of INEOS Britannia who switched back to a Technical Director role at Mercedes F1, speaking on Ben Ainslie’s ‘Performance People Podcast’ said:

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

“We’re definitely not favourites. It’s quite a nice underdog position to be in because there’s some good work being done there, and I think we may have bought ourselves the opportunity – if the next several months of work can be executed cleanly – to surprise a few people…I hope we have collectively put in enough work that we have bought ourselves a shot at that.”

Spotlight On: David Endean, Chief Operating Officer, INEOS Britannia

© C GREGORY

New Zealander David Endean has been in the heat of the America’s Cup since 2003 having started as late crewmember at AC31 with Craig McCaw’s One World Challenge. A product of the talent factory at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, offshore sailing became his calling and led to two pinnacle victories in the Volvo Ocean Race in 2005/2006 with ABN AMRO and 2008/2009 with Ericsson 4 but the America’s Cup came calling with the Swedish Artemis Challenges of 20133 in San Francisco and 2017 in Bermuda. Gradually David moved into senior management and as he said: “Over my time with Cup campaigns I have been lucky to work closely across all the different elements with the design teams, the manufacturing teams and the sailing side, and so I was keen to transition into a role where I could work with all of them and then try and close that loop.” By AC36 in 2021, David was Project Manager for the INEOS Team UK Challenge that reached the Prada Cup final but was eventually eliminated by Luna Rossa despite some very close racing. 

Now as Chief Operating Officer of the Challenger of Record for the 37th America’s Cup, INEOS Britannia, David brings all his Cup experience to bear as he fuses the Formula 1 technical world of Mercedes Applied Science with the marine sector. It’s a challenge he is more than capable of taking on and INEOS Britannia are a feared challenger for the 37th America’s Cup.


ALINGHI RED BULL RACING

Having retained a base on the Obhur Creek in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia after the conclusion of the second Preliminary Regatta in November, the Swiss team have taken full advantage of the stunning conditions, escaping the European winter for some warm-weather training through mid to late January.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

2024 The intensity of their two-boat AC40 programme has been impressive with plenty of emphasis on pre-starts, short-course racing, tactics and sails. Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s AC75 ‘Boat Zero’ remains ready to go in Barcelona with the sailing team switching between the two venues, and whilst the team remain tight-lipped on future training schedules, there’s plenty of inference in interviews that they are excited by their new AC75 currently in build at the Decision S.A. Yard in Ecublens, Lausanne. Over the coming weeks and months, it is expected that foil design will come to the fore on the team’s LEQ12 moded AC40s. Already the team have released interesting ‘Tubercle’ and ‘Delta Wing’ foils, but they are yet to reveal their design direction with further iterations. Expect that to change soon as well as seeing continued work on systems on their AC75 in Barcelona and perhaps more training blocks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Spotlight on: Paul Jacquot and Franco Noto – Power Group, Alinghi Red Bull Racing

When the race schedule was announced for the 37th America’s Cup in January 2024, Alinghi Red Bull Racing were quick to announce the hiring of not one, but two additions to their already impressive and highly competitive ‘Power Group’ – the team of cyclors that will power the team’s new AC75. Paul Jacquot, a Swiss Olympic rower, and Franco Noto, a renowned middle-distance runner, joined the team in January and have been immediately thrust into the daily training schedule of one of the fittest teams in this America’s Cup cycle. Their backgrounds are impeccable with Paul, a graduate of Yale University in America rowed in collegiate competitions before returning to Switzerland and representing the country in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in the Men’s Heavyweight Four.

(L to R) Franco Noti and Paul Jacquot of Switzerland and Alinghi Red Bull Racing seen during the practice in Barcelona, Spain on January 11, 2024

Franco meanwhile specialised in the 1500 and 3000 metre disciplines at both national and international levels and was excited to join the team to take on the challenge of the America’s Cup saying: “What I admire most about Alinghi is that they achieved what was considered the impossible in the first edition,” added Franco. “That’s a spirit that I align with in my personal values. I love the idea of doing something that people don’t believe you can do, and I think that winning spirit is still with the team. It makes me proud to be part of that.” Sailing Team Manager for Alinghi Red Bull Racing, Rodney Ardern, thinks the new Power Group signings are key to success saying: “Both Franco and Paul are athletes of the highest calibre. They stood out for us because of their physical performance from additional selection trials and they both have great team spirit, motivation and attitude. It’s all about working as a team, and we know they’ll fit perfectly alongside the full sailing team.”


NYYC AMERICAN MAGIC

There have been plenty of eyes and spies on NYYC American Magic in January as the team worked-up systems on their legacy AC75 ‘Patriot’ in the desire to circumvent the bedding-in time for their new boat in-build at Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Mainsheet control systems, power delivery from the cyclors, jib sheeting arrangements and control functions have all been under the spotlight in January but with the retirement of ‘Patriot,’ the team now moves into a more racing phase.

Job Vermeulen / America’s Cup

Over the coming months, the team will return to two-boat AC40 training in Barcelona to keep sharp on pre-start tactics and short-course racing. Prior to the Christmas break, the team did extensive foil work on their AC40s in LEQ12 mode, revealing interesting initial bulb designs and eventually settling towards the more beefed-up sidewall profile to reduce leeway. The team has talent all over with Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison, two multiple Moth World Champions in the hot helming seats but the likes of Lucas Calabrese and Harry Melges pushing them hard. Expect high intensity training before the new boat arrives that Tom Slingsby has revealed “will have a bustle.”

Spotlight on: Ashton Lambie, Cyclor, NYYC American Magic

Nebraska-born Ashton Lambie is set to become one of the most recognisable faces in the 37th America’s Cup. A true living legend in the cycling world, most famous for ultra-endurance records and the first person to complete an Individual Pursuit (4-kilometre track race) in under four minutes, he is also instantly recognisable for his handlebar moustache that he says he’s had “longer than he’s been married” to NASA candidate, Christina Birch! Ashton’s cycling however is stuff of legend with a famous win at the 2018 Pan American Track Cycling Championships winning gold for the individual pursuit with a new American record and set a world record winning gold in the team pursuit.

He’s also a big gravel rider, winning the thousand-mile Flint Hills Ultra. Transferring from the track and gravel to the wind and waves of the America’s Cup is an opportunity that came to Ashton through his sponsor, SRAM, who also are a partner of the NYYC American Magic Challenge: “I’ve always been irresistibly drawn to the most ambitious and extraordinary, most out-there goals I can find. When I first started riding a road bike at 15, I went to the bike shop and grabbed the flier with the longest ride option, and I embarked on my very first-century ride that same year. I picked and achieved some historic achievements in the individual pursuit… This experience (the America’s Cup) goes far beyond simply cycling on a boat for me. It encompasses being a part of the team, embracing the entire process, and immersing myself in the unique environment. It feels like the culmination of all my experiences as a cyclist.” Look out for the moustache around the Port Vell this summer – Ashton Lambie is in town.


LUNA ROSSA PRADA PIRELLI

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

The team with arguably some of the finest sailing talent on the planet, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s build-up to the 37th America’s Cup has been quiet, understated but devastatingly effective. Training out of Cagliari with their prototype LEQ12 ‘Luna Rossa’ the team has been putting in consistent performances of the very highest level. Foil design has been evolutionary along the long-span, gull-wing path we’ve seen elsewhere, and the grind has been intense with long days on the water in the Bay of Angels. For the Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah, the team promoted Olympic Gold medallist Ruggero Tita and three-time Optimist World Champion, Marco Gradoni, into the helm seat and they sensationally made the final showing devastating boatspeed and wise-beyond-their-years race management. January has seen the team up the ante, bringing the AC40 and LEQ12 together for two-boat race practice and this is expected to continue until the launch of their new AC75 which is nearing completion although, as with all teams, the launch date is strictly confidential (for now). 

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Spotlight on: Gilberto Nobili, Operations Manager & Mechatronics Co-Ordinator

Be around the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team for any length of time and the considerable presence and character of Gilberto ‘Gilo’ Nobili is immediately felt. Now in his seventh America’s Cup campaign, Gilo is very much the go-to man for the team as the over-arching Operations Manager with a wide remit. A proud Italian sailor, Gilo was a distinctive grinder onboard the 2003 and 2007 challenges that were ultimately unsuccessful but a switch to the Oracle Team for the 2010 edition gave him a taste of America’s Cup success.

This was repeated in the famous 2013 edition in San Francisco where Oracle Team USA came back from 8-1 down to defend the trophy. Further Cup success came in 2017 with Emirates Team New Zealand before taking up his current role with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. At the time he said: “In the America’s Cup one of the most difficult things is to find a balance between the hours spent on the water and those on land, between training and boat development. Then there’s risk analysis and management. It’s here that in the 20 years I’ve been involved in sailing I’ve seen some great mistakes made, but I’ve also seen some amazing solutions.” Gilo will be using all his experience to bear to go one better than the team did in 2021 and win the America’s Cup for Italy – a lifelong dream. 


ORIENT EXPRESS RACING TEAM

Having been under the ‘recon radar’ almost since launch, Orient Express Racing is about to explode into the America’s Cup conscience as they take their AC40 out of class and into LEQ12 development mode. Foil and sail testing will be high on the agenda for the coming months as the French team seek the finishing race-touches for their AC75 that is currently in-build in Vannes.

As a late challenger, Orient Express Racing bought a design package from Emirates Team New Zealand and went almost immediately into build – so don’t be surprised if they are among the first to launch this Spring. With only one AC40, the team have been denied the chance of two-boat testing, but this is group brimming with talent and a real can-do attitude that has been endorsed by both the President of France, Emmanuel Macron and by the French Sailing Federation with the prestigious title of ‘Equipe de France’ recognising all three of the teams: the Challenger, Youth and Women’s America’s Cup squads. The team has grown in size, now numbering 115 and the challenge is on as Thierry Douillard, Team Coach, recently remarked: “First and foremost, I’d like to highlight the quantity and quality of the work done over the past year. It was a real challenge to line up at the first AC pre-regatta in Vilanova last September. We more than met the challenge. Beyond expectations. And that’s thanks to the extremely serious work of all the departments: technical, sporting and design, with development and training on the simulator beforehand. Starting this week, we’ll be tackling a crucial new training phase.

© Job Vermeulen / America’s Cup

The transition of the AC40 one-design to the LEQ12 format. We’re starting to put in the technology that will later be implemented on the AC75. We’re really starting to take on the technological challenge of the America’s Cup. It’s work that we’ve been anticipating for months. It’s THE big step over the coming weeks, which will enable us to learn the functionalities of the future boat and to test them. It’s a huge challenge.

Spotlight on: François Pervis, Cyclor, Orient Express Racing Team

François Pervis, a French track cyclist specialising in sprint events, has won seven world track titles – four in the kilometre, two in the keirin and one in individual speed – and a total of 17 world championships. He also won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2020 Paralympic Games. Since December 2013, he has held the world record over a kilometre distance (56’303).

A man who welcomes a challenge, François currently holds the European recumbent bike speed record of 139.88 km/h and has set his sights on beating the world record in the discipline. When he was approached by Killian Philippe, the Orient Express Racing Team coach, it didn’t take long for the Mayenne native to agree to join the squad. “I’m extremely proud to be joining the group of cyclors that will power the AC75, the boat in the next America’s Cup. I see a number of similarities between my background as a track cyclist, my world record on a streamlined recumbent bike and the AC75. It’s all about speed, carbon, power, marginal gains, aerodynamics, surpassing yourself and optimising performance. Everything I love! But it’s a new challenge for me, as I’m completely new to this world. All of us in the power group are looking forward to 2024 and getting onboard the AC75 – to contributing our know-how and experience and to performing as a crew. It’s going to be another great human, collective and sporting adventure!”

© Job Vermeulen / America’s Cup
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