Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Orient Express Racing Team’s Curious Afternoon on the Water

A curious afternoon that at one point promised something, but eventually delivered very little was all the wily Orient Express Racing Team required to stick at the task in hand, stay focussed and doggedly persistent to eventually extract some meaningful time-on-the-water.


Gallic grit on display, Quentin Delapierre and Kevin Peponnet just never gave up – a hallmark of their career to date and of the French team’s approach to the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup. Good on them. After a long wait as the breeze banged around south to slight south-easterly and played chicken with the anemometer’s reading of 7 knots, eventually flight was secured, and the French got some oh-so-valuable manual flight time offshore. It may only have been a few short runs but at this end of the competition with the clock ticking, it must have felt like gold-dust.


Surprisingly, a new face appeared at the base today in the form of Cup legend and double-winner Glenn Ashby who was last seen on an America’s Cup boat, Te Rehutai to be precise, on the 17th March 2021, crossing the line to another famous victory. Now drafted in as an adviser to the French team, Glenn will be dipping in and out to share his huge technical knowledge with them in, as he says: “a sort of a helicopter view from the outside if you like looking inside the team so obviously it’s spending time with the sailing team, working with them to try and help them learn a little bit about the AC75 and spend a little bit of time with the LEQ just talking about the physics and the sailability of how the boats work and what they’re likely to experience as they move forward so while still spending time with the sailing team, I guess there’s other departments – design and management – that I can be involved with as well so it’s really a global overview of the campaign as a whole.”


“First impression…they’re all very, very, enthusiastic and very excited to move forward into the AC75 which is fantastic and for me I haven’t been involved with the America’s Cup or with a team since the last race really of the last America’s Cup so been living back in Australia and doing other projects if you like that have wheels and things like that, it’s been nice to get back on the water again I certainly haven’t really done much sailing at all over the last couple of years, except for a little bit of windsurfing…so for me it’s a real pleasure to be here… it’s a fairly small team with a relatively small budget so the learning curve’s really, really, steep but I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for them to be a part of the show and I think hopefully their design team have done a nice job of designing a fast boat.”

On-Water Recon Report – Orient Express Racing Team: The French Team craned their AC40 to the water at 11:08, that had been left with the mast up and out of the shed overnight. The team docked out at 13.05, as expected. A one-design J1 and the LEQ12-MN-A mainsail were hoisted while heading out of the harbour at 13:08 and 13:15, respectively. A marginal southerly breeze of 4 to 7 knots of intensity prevailed during today’s session, combined with flat water conditions.

After hoisting both sails inside the harbour, for the following twenty minutes team OE experienced some kind of minor problem that required two shore-team members to work inside the front hatch. Nevertheless, by 13:40 the team was ready to go.

For the first half an hour the AC40 sailed upwind on both tacks with a very aggressive pitch angle flying high on the foils, with the bow pointing down and the rudder elevator very close to the surface. We could identify spray coming out from the back of the rudder and the bow hitting the surface at times. This tendency was sustained during the entire session.

At 14:10 there was a fifteen-minute break in which Glenn Ashby got onboard for de-briefing. Once finished, the wind had dropped, and the first of four towing take-offs occurred. After one intent, the team was forced to take another break due to the lack of wind. Taking advantage of the break, both sails were lowered to adjust the tension on the battens.

By 15:25 both sails were up again, but the wind was not strong enough. For the following hour and twenty minutes there were three towing take-offs that allowed OERT to sail in a straight-line until they did one tack or gybe, to end falling-off the foils.

When talking about the manoeuvres, we only identified two complete fully foiling tacks the entire day. However, most of the manoeuvres counted as ‘fully landed,’ occurred in conditions under the racing wind limit. At 16:45 there was ten-minute break in which there was a battery replacement.

During the last twenty minutes, OE racing team did one upwind-downwind, trying to make a few tacks and gybes, but the wind was not strong enough, falling from the foils on all of them. At 17:15 the team decided to end the training and lowered their sails. OE entered the port on the tow with no sails at 17.45 and docked at 17:52. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on OE Racing Team

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