Monday, April 1, 2024
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HomeRegattaAmerica's CupAlinghi Red Bull Racing Gears Up for Intense America's Cup Showdown

Alinghi Red Bull Racing Gears Up for Intense America’s Cup Showdown

If, as expected, the 37th America’s Cup comes down to a straight fight on the water, Alinghi Red Bull Racing look very much up for the fight after an eight-day training block where the intensity has jumped and ramped. Today on their final day in Jeddah, sailing on perfect conditions once again on the Red Sea, the sailors pushed to the outer limits over a series of pre-starts and short-course races.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

This was AC40 racing at its finest with thrills, spills, pushes, fakes and stalls, all on display and real signs of trained playbooks coming into action in the box. Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin were sublime as a team today, really clicking as they so often do, nailing their time-on-distance, pushing Jason Waterhouse and Nico Charbonnier into impossible situations and more often than not, acing the lead-back and then controlling the race.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

One notable thing was just how hard the sailors were pushing the AC40s, such is the confidence now all around the sailing team and even sky-rockets and nosedives do little to damage the bullet-proof mentality that is coursing through Alinghi Red Bull Racing. Off the water, the shore team have been brilliant over this block, pulling all-nighters and working back-breaking hours to keep the boats in A1 condition day after day. One of the key lieutenants of the team is Rob Salthouse, the team’s rig co-ordinator who has had a busy 10 days and spoke to the recon team afterwards saying: “It’s been fantastic again, the conditions have somewhat been testing at times with the sea state and so forth but for sailing it’s been unbelievable, really good…I mean there’s not much else to do in Jeddah, so we come to work, work, go back and repeat it the next day so yeah it’s been really efficient from that side of things.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Talking about how the boats have fared over these sessions, Rob commented: “Oh they are in pretty good nick, I think they’ll all have some good checks done over the next couple of days and maintenance and so forth, we certainly have put them through some tests, tried them in the air this time (!) and so you know from that side of things it’s been quite good for the guys just to look at varying conditions, they’ve done a lot of sailing in light air idea, not a lot in the sort of upper range, so it’s been good.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Asked about the strain put on the mast and rigging of the two AC40’s in the higher wind strengths, Rob commented: “It does definitely put them under a fair bit of strain but the boats have been designed to take that and you know both the rigs get well inspected each night, so it hasn’t been too much, we get a little bit of damage on batten bumpers that come unglued because of the loads that go on those at times, but in general terms we’ve had very little issues.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Alinghi Red Bull Racing return to Barcelona to continue their AC75 programme later this week. The grind goes on but the Bull is snorting now.

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s started early again in anticipation of stronger winds in the afternoon, with the AC40-7 (Black) left on the forecourt overnight and craned in at 07:05. The AC40-4 (Red) was rolled out shortly after at 07:10 and craned in at 07:30. Both boats, prepared with full LE sail plans and a backup One Design J3 jibs, and with the same crew combination as the previous day, the team docked out at 08:30. The Red boat hoisted the M1-4 LE mainsail and the J1-5 LE jib, while the Black boat opted for the M1-3 LE and the J1-3 LE.

Helms:
Red Boat: Jason Waterhouse & Nicolas Charbonnier
Black Boat: Arnaud Psarofaghis & Maxime Bachelin

Stint 1 (09:04 – 09:14, 8-12kn 005° @ 08:55) Both boats engaging joined together in parallel and bore away for a short downwind warm-up characterized by three gybes. The increasing wind prompted a switch from the J1 to the J3 sails, with Red selecting the J3-2 LE and Black the J3-1 LE.

Stint 2 (09:25 – 09:50, 10-13.5kn 355° @ 09:20) This stint was earmarked for media operations, featuring guests at the helm for promotional activities. A quick crew swap allowed the team to transition back into training.

Stint 3 (09:50 – 10:30, 12-15kn 340° @ 10:00) The team began pre-start practice, with Red entering on port for the three starts. The third start continued into a two-lap race, which saw a close fight, with Red ultimately controlling the race and extending their lead on the last downwind.

Stint 4 (10:38 – 10:52, 11-16kn 330° @ 10:40) The next two starts saw Black enter on port. Black started to windward on Start 4 and avoided getting rolled after the first tack by luffing up, forcing Red to tack off and back again. Start 5 saw Black touch down but recover and go on to win the start, with red trailing behind, seemingly with an issue, as both boats then come to a stop.

Stint 5 (11:03 – 11:25, 13-17kn 330° @ 11:00) Black entered Start 6 on port and started ahead, as Red lost grip rounding up to the start line too aggressively. This start continued into a two-lap race, with Black leading the ¾ legs until a touch down gybe allowed Red to overtake and secure the win. Both boats made their way back to Obhur Creek to conclude the day’s sailing.

The day ended with the boats docking in by 11:45 and the last boat craned out by 12:25. The session spanned just over three hours on the water, with 110 minutes of active sailing, and, excluding Stint 2, a total of 64 manoeuvres observed of the Black boat, achieving a 94% fully foiling rate amidst a mild to aggressive chop and changing wind conditions.

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