Monday, May 13, 2024
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupFlight Testing in Barcelona: Orient Express Racing Team Takes to the Waters

Flight Testing in Barcelona: Orient Express Racing Team Takes to the Waters

For the French it’s all about time-in-the-boat now as Quentin Delapierre and Kevin Peponnet, the pin-ups of the French racing scene, look to drive the programme forward with just the one AC40 as a training vessel. Today in conditions described as ‘tricky’, the technique is clearly coming along but the big issue was swell with wave heights topping at up to one metre that caused several nosedives and stuffs. Manoeuvres looked positive and exit speeds appeared high once the team slowed the gybes down with little ride height differential and good trim provided by Matthieu Vandame and Jason Waterhouse.


A long session of almost five hours, the sailors battled on into the early evening, continuing to build the technique playbook and found some flatter waters near the harbour entrance in the final stint where they could get some decent laps in. With the auto-pilot switched off and full manual control, this was a good session for the French who are high on the vertical learning curve and making decent progress.


Speaking afterwards, Bruno Dubois one of the key architects and Principals of the Orient Express Racing Team spoke about the design that the team purchased off the Defenders, Emirates Team New Zealand saying: “We bought a design package, it’s the latest design that’s available with (Emirates) Team New Zealand and that includes pretty much everything so it helps us to make a shortcut with way less people, we don’t have the same budget as the others so it’s a good way for us to get back into the Cup into this boat with the AC75. It was the best way to do it.”


On the subject of optimisation, Bruno added: “If we manage to spend 100% of our time to understand what the design package is exactly, and how it works, I think it will be an amazing success for us. We’re better to understand that and after that we’ll see to optimise it but honestly everybody will start sailing in April and May and by August we’re racing, you know you need a couple of months to understand what they’re doing the best but yes we can continue to optimise and develop if necessary.”

Asked what success looked like, Bruno was candid saying: “The success will be to have the two same design in the final of the America’s Cup – Team New Zealand and the French together, that will be the success for me.”


Speaking about the sail design programme and asked whether there was any additional pressure on the sailmaking team to come up with advances, Bruno responded: “No I’m not too afraid about that, we are on track, we know where we’re going, we have a good guideline and that’s fine, we’re testing some new things on this one (the AC40) on those  few sails which are mini AC75 design, so we’re on track, we’re okay with that.”

On-Water Recon Report – Orient Express Racing Team: OE Racing Team craned to the water their AC40 at 10:40, that had been left with the mast up and out of the shed overnight. After usual routine activities, the team docked out at 13.30, as planned.

The LEQ12-J3 jib and the LEQ12-MN-A mainsail were hoisted while heading out of the harbour at 13:40 and 13:50, respectively. Tricky conditions prevailed. A south-westerly gradient, shifting persistently to the right during the day, and oscillating in intensity in between 11 to 17 knots, combined with a one-meter swell. For the first twenty minutes, right after hoisting the sails and once just out of the port, the team had to work on what seemed like a minor issue on the mast rotation or cunningham system. A few shore team members got onboard carrying tools and one of them was seen using a hammer.

By 14:15 the minor problem was solved, and the training session got underway.

After sailing for ten minutes on starboard tack, both upwind and downwind, Orient Express stopped due to a new minor issue on the wind system that required the anemometer at the bowsprit to be replaced. Half an hour later, the session was resumed.

At 14:45 one long downwind was carried out, in top-end conditions. Multiple nose-dives and touchdowns occurred while trying to deal with the tricky wind and swell combination. However, all of them were well-controlled and none were in risk of capsizing. Then one upwind was executed.

From 15:10 till 16:10 the team practiced multiple bear-aways on both tacks, from reaching course into downwind VMG course, apparently being on manual flight-controlling mode. They succeeded in approximately a 50% of the intents.

At 16:15 there was a 20-minute break in which a batteries replacement took place.

During the last hour and a half, once closer to the harbour where the sea state conditions were much better, the team did five upwind-downwind legs, doing three to four tacks and gybes, respectively, focusing on the manoeuvres. It called my attention the speed at which they changed their course during on gybes. A little bit slower and taking more time than regular average gybes.

OE entered the port at 18.05, lowered their sails, and docked at 18:25. Fifteen minutes later the boat was craned out of the water, indicating the end of the day. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on OE Racing Team

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