Monday, February 26, 2024
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupThe pace of this 37th America’s Cup has just gone up a...

The pace of this 37th America’s Cup has just gone up a notch

The docksides in Barcelona and Cagliari were abuzz as news started to filter through that both Emirates Team New Zealand and Alinghi Red Bull Racing had signalled their intention to launch their new AC75s soon after or on April 5th with both teams officially declaring. Expect further announcements soon with Sir Ben Ainslie informing the media at the Athena Pathway presentation in London that their new AC75 had left the build-shed today.

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli executed their third straight day of outright race practice with another ‘magnificent seven’ pre-starts and short course races over a morning session with the abiding sense that the LEQ12 was really on the pace off the start line and able to control the races after a clean start. That’s not to say that Francesco Bruni and Jimmy Spithill steering the LEQ today had it all their own way as the hard-charging Marco Gradoni and Ruggero Tita pushed super-hard in the pre-starts, circling tight and efficiently and putting the pressure on the finalist helming duo from the 36th America’s Cup Match. Staying on the foils and also holding a lane off the line was crucial and with a wind that was up and then down again, it really was a day for the LEQ12 to show its power.

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Speaking afterwards Matteo Plazzi, the Rules Adviser to Luna Prada Pirelli gave a summary of where the team are at in the programme before speaking about the news of the new AC75 launches in two months’ time saying: “The first part of the campaign is finished, so all the components that each team wanted to develop for the new boat, that phase is done, and now we are in the phase where we will practise with the two parties (crew) in LEQ12 and AC40 match-racing, with two boats as equally as possible in our case or for other teams using two AC40s… Today we got two notification both (Emirates) Team New Zealand and Alinghi (Red Bull Racing) said that they will launch straight after April 5th…I think several boats will launch in April.” Perhaps a hint that the Luna Rossa launch is imminent? We will find out soon.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

For Alinghi Red Bull Racing back in Barcelona, it was another day at the busy AC75 office of ‘BoatZero’ with the team concentrating on very tight pre-start box manoeuvres – at times too tight for the 360° pivot followed by a gybe and an immediate tack – hard move to pull off on foil but boy did they persist with it. Another interesting drill that the recon team have observed, mainly with the starboard foil when it is raised, is a rapid lowering and raising whilst in flight. Arnaud Psarofaghis described the drill after saying: “We just try the system and I mean we try to fine tune the one design FCS system that we have on the boat and just trying to learn how it works the best way, and so then we can change the set-up but we need to do that on the water… “We usually do it on the starboard foil because it’s slightly easier to see compared to the anhedral but I mean we do all the testing we do on one tack we do some testing on the other tack as well…so on both foils we do the same.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Talking about the pre-start action and the pressure the sailors are putting on themselves through the manoeuvres, Arnaud commented: “Every manoeuvre’s really important and doing the pre-start we still don’t know exactly the size of the box so we try to make it as small as possible and try to do the hardest manoeuvres as possible and yeah we just fine tune our set up and we still need to work on a few things and we were slightly down range of the J3 today as well so it’s always a bit tricky when you are on the power.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

And the question of the day about his reaction to the super-early launch declaration of the Alinghi Red Bull Racing new AC75, Arnaud spoke proudly saying: “I think not only for me, but for the whole team, for the guys that designed it and build it, it will be really good to be one of the first boats on the water and as well for the sailing team to take over this boat after this long period, we’re really looking forward to it and it’s always good to be the first position and looking forward to see how the other boats are as well.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

The 37th America’s Cup is coming fast. The pace is quickening. And a sense of anticipation is hanging in the air. We’re looking forward to seeing the radical, the new, the logical and the how-did-they-think-of-that? Can’t wait. Get the popcorn out. (Magnus Wheatley)  

On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: Luna Rossa rolled out their AC40 (white) at 7:50 and their LEQ12(red) at 8:15, stepped masts and craned in respectively at the 8:10 and 8:30. Dock-out was scheduled at 09:30, sailors swapped between boats compared to previous days and cameras were again fitted on LEQ12s wings to slow down.

Both boats were towed towards La Sella del Diavolo where the offshore pressure was firstly measured 7-9kn from 320° with flat water. The first iteration of mainsail M1-1 was paired to the J1-1 on red and the M1 OD was paired to J1 OD on white. As both boats started sailing on their own for a while, the bottom gate was being setup.

Then, the boats lined up on the same tack for upwind and downwind laps, again remaining quite distanced. The first foiling stint ended with both yachts decelerating to change jibs: J1.5 for red and J2 for white, as the pressure had increased slightly to 10-12kn from 315°.

At 10:45 the 1st prestart drill was run with white on port, sailing in circle as soon as in the box and chasing down red afterwards, similar strategy seen in the past days. White trimmed up and tacked, red bore away and gybed. When approaching the line, red had more boat speed pushing white to windward forcing a tack to bail out. Within 10 minutes on the foils both yachts stopped as the breeze had decreased again.

Jibs were lowered and the yachts were towed further to the east, offshore of Poetto beach. Here the pressure was up to 14-16kn from 315° and hence J2-2 was hoisted on red and J3 on white.

The 2nd prestart unfolded at 11:25 with white on port. After the usual circle, the yachts sailed towards bottom right before trimming up. Red chased white trying to hook, and both boats started the race with a minimal gap.

The following start was interrupted by what seemed to be an issue on red while sailing down on starboard entry with two boards. No major as the 3rd prestart drill was live shortly after with white on port. Both yachts sail towards the lowest bottom right end and trimmed up together. Less than a second gap between the two approaching the line, both high and slow with white behind red in dirt. One upwind followed this start with red being ahead on all the crosses. 

On the 4th start, red was on port sailing in a circle as soon as in the box. Red started to chase aggressively white, white trying to sail in circle again but touched down losing speed. Red bore away to gain, sailed around slow white and ended up faster on the line.

The 5th start unfolded similar to the 4th with red dominating this one as well. Race was then live, red led all crosses with a gap of 12 seconds on the top mark and 9 seconds at the leeward gate.

At 12:00 the breeze seemed to be dying with 7-9kn from 310°, boats stopped sailing for lunch break and J1.5 was hoisted on red and J2 on white.

The 6th start saw red on port, managing to chase white down the line but being forced to tack once started. The yachts split and white was ahead on all crosses but lost its advantage on the last gybe close to bottom gate.

Also, on the 7th start white seemed more vulnerable managing to start slightly behind and so forced to tack to split the course. Four legs followed and red dominated entirely. Racing was then completed, and the red yacht sailed towards the harbour while white stayed out for a longer while flying its J1 OD. T

he day was called for the LEQ12 with approx. 120 minutes foiling time and approx. 50 tacks and 40 gybes [Michele Melis AC Recon].

dock at 1704. No sailing is scheduled for tomorrow Tuesday February 6.

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out Boat Zero (AC75) at 09:00. The day’s plans were similar to those of last week, with systems testing followed by pre-start practice and a three-lap race versus the chase boat. The yacht was craned into the water at 09:35, with IT, hydraulics, and electronics technicians working on the FCS, with the Port foil lifted for some time as work carried out, with a helm and trimmer also on board.

With the M2-2R mainsail and J1-2R jib prepared on deck, the team docked out at 12:00. Sails were hoisted in port, as sailing commenced from the port entrance. Arnaud Psarofaghis helmed on starboard and Maxime Bachelin on port. Sea-state was relatively flat at the beginning, with increasing chop as the wind filled in throughout the day.

Stint 1 (12:24 – 12:37) The team started with a long downwind warmup, executing eight gybes, of which one was touch and go, before rounding up and stopping to exchange the J1 for the J3-1R, as the wind started to fill in.

Stint 2 (12:50 – 13:05, 9-12kn 200° @ 12:45) Another sequence of upwind/downwind warmup manoeuvres with the J3, maintaining low ride height throughout. After coming to a stop, two guests jumped on board for sponsor engagement just for the following stint.

Stint 3 (13:10 – 13:39, 8-11.5kn 200° @ 13:10) Further testing of dropping and lifting the windward foil, predominantly on the starboard tack, upwind and downwind, with only a couple of attempts on port. This is a test seen on multiple occasions last week. Cyclors were rotated at the end of this stint, but it is not clear exactly how many were rotated.

Stint 4 (13:55 – 14:10, 7-11kn 195° @ 13:55) Pre-start practice began, with the yacht entering on port for both starts, with the chase boat joining in on starboard for the second start. Challenges in maintaining flight during tacks were noted, particularly in the second start, which was abandoned after a touchdown that couldn’t be recovered.

Stint 5 (14:15 – 14:55, 8-12kn 200° @ 14:20, 9-14kn 205° @ 15:00) Two more starts Start 3 and Start 4, where recovery from a touchdown tack improved but still resulted in a late start by 5 seconds. The day culminated in Start 5, a three-lap race against Chase Alpha, performing cover manoeuvres and strategic choices around the 1.5NM course, set at 190 degrees, with a single windward mark.

Stint 6 (15:07 – 15:30, 9-14kn 205° @ 15:00, 10-15.5kn 205° @ 15:35) This final stint saw a long downwind sailed, practicing manoeuvres with both foils down, transitioning into a long upwind stretch back to base, with wind conditions intensifying towards the session’s end.

The day concluded with sails being lowered by 15:40, after a solid four hours on the water and 135 minutes of sailing time. 59 manoeuvres were observed with 81% fully foiling rate.

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