Monday, February 26, 2024
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HomeRegattaAmerica's CupAlinghi Red Bull Racing Sets Sail: Intensive Training Camp in Jeddah

Alinghi Red Bull Racing Sets Sail: Intensive Training Camp in Jeddah

An interesting start to the new week with the Alinghi Red Bull Racing team heading off for another ten-day training camp in the warm waters of the Red Sea at their Obhur Creek base in Jeddah. The team started sailing on Sunday with a shake-down sail of their two AC40s ahead of full recon on Monday. Dean Barker, the legendary America’s Cup skipper, was back in action joining Maxime Bachelin for some sail testing and then into some hard-nosed race flights.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

With the wind gradually building, the team docked-out at 2.30pm and after some initial warm-ups with the team’s bespoke J1 jib that is exquisitely finished, it was soon out of range and the call to drop down to the equally stunning bespoke LEQ J2’s was made ahead with Arnaud Psarofaghis and Nicholas Charbonnier getting first sight of the brand new J2-4LE. A few line-ups were observed before the crews all swapped around to take out any human bias in this important sail testing programme.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Pretty soon it was down to racing and with Dean Barker bringing a fresh perspective to the pre-start, the first two starts were amped up and saw the Kiwi gain an OCS in the second start after a push from Psarofaghis. The next start saw both boats hit the line hard before Psarofaghis and Charbonnier showed superb race-craft to roll over the ‘Black’ boat upwind – those two sure know how to sail AC40s at their optimum and the precision was impressive. The next start showed how far Psarofaghis has come as a foiling match-racer with a run back to the line that called for maximum stalling. The Swiss nailed it, Barker was forced off at the pin end of the line – another great win for the Psarofaghis/Charbonnier combo.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

There then followed two races with a single windward mark and again it was the time-in-the-boat practise of Psarofaghis and Charbonnier that won them the races. A smart right-hand lane off the start line in race five saw the ‘Red’ boat click into some nice lifting pressure and then once ahead made no mistake to bring the boat home for a win. The next, and final race, saw a mis-communication between Barker and Bachelin at the windward mark that allowed the ‘Red’ boat to roll over downwind, seize the lead and never look back. Hugely impressive sailing from this pairing with Bryan Mettraux and Nicolas Rolaz on trim – plenty for the coaches to think about, Alinghi Red Bull Racing have serious strength in depth now.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Speaking afterward, Maxime Bachelin spoke about having Dean Barker onboard saying: “It’s very good to have him onboard, it’s changed a lot compare to Phil (Robertson) so it’s making a new situation on the pre-start and then on the races and so I think it’s a big plus for us to have him here.” And speaking about the mix up on the final windward mark, Max was admirably honest as he said: “Yeah it was a bit of a misunderstanding between Dean and me and it’s more about communication side and yeah we still need to improve, me with my English and him hearing maybe a bit better on that and yeah so it’s good…I think Dean did not know really that the boat was coming on port because I was not explaining it and so it’s more about me explaining him and taking the wheel to do the best manoeuvre as possible.” The Arabian odyssey continues for Alinghi Red Bull Racing.

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s AC40-7 (Black) and AC40-4 (Red) were rolled out at 10:30 and 11:00. The boats were craned into the water by 11:30 and standard checks were carried out. Full LE sail plans were prepared for the day, ahead of 14:30 dock-out, delayed due to the late thermal wind. Three new sails were commissioned today: the M1-4 LE mainsail, the J1-5 LE and J2-4 LE jib.

The standard crew configuration was maintained from the previous day, with Dean Barker helming Red alongside Maxime Bachelin, and Arnaud Psarofaghis and Nico Charbonnier helming Black. The M1-3 LE mainsail and J1-3 LE jib were hoisted on the Red boat, while the M1-4 LE and J1-5 LE were hoisted on the Black boat.

Stint 1 (14:50 – 15:12, 8-12kn 305° @ 15:00) The team started with an upwind/downwind of sail testing, sailing long stretches on each tack. Following this stint, the J1 jibs were dropped and exchanged for the J2-3 LE on Black and the new J2-4 LE on Red.

Stint 2 (15:28 – 15:55, 9-12.5kn 310° @ 15:25) The team exercised another stint of sail testing, with Black making a clew adjustment after the first upwind tack, while Red executed 360 manoeuvres in the meantime. The team then continued on the same course as the previous stint. A full crew swap was carried out ahead of the next stint.

Stint 3 (16:10 – 16:37, 9-12kn 290° @ 16:05) A bit more side-by-side testing was carried out, followed by split tacks upwind, then rounding a stationary chase boat at windward, followed by a long downwind gybing battle back to the course start line.

Stint 4 (16:42 – 16:53, 11-14kn 290° @ 16:45) Start 1 and 2 saw the Black boat entering on port, Red on starboard. The second start was more aggressive, with Black (Dean + Max) pushed into an OCS. 

Stint 5 (16:56 – 17:08, 10-13kn 290° @ 17:05) Start 3 saw the Red boat enter on port, Black on starboard, with both boats starting clear, Black on windward, then getting rolled after the first tack. Start 4 saw Red entering on port and both boats early on approach to the start, resulting in Black (Dean) sailing over Red (Arnaud) at the line but early to the start and being forced to sail below the pin end.

Stint 6 (17:14 – 17:40, 10-13kn 290° @ 17:15) Two one-lap races were sailed in the final stint, with the course set at 300 degrees, 1NM long, and a single windward mark. Start 5 (Race 1) saw Red enter on port, with Black turning up high on the approach to the start, forcing Red to tack off to the right, where they found big gains and led at the top mark, extending their lead to the leeward gate, as Black touched down at the leeward mark rounding. Start 6 (Race 2) saw Black enter on port, then starting to windward and tacking off immediately, with Red following soon after. A tacking battle ensued in the middle of the course, as Black made it to the windward mark just ahead, but touched down while tacking round the mark, due to miscommunication between Dean and Max. Red rolled Black and led downwind to win the final race, as both boats then headed back to base.

Sails were dropped by 17:50, marking the end of a productive session that spanned three and a half hours on the water and 125 minutes of active sailing. A total of 77 manoeuvres were observed, with a 97% fully foiling rate.

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