Monday, April 22, 2024
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupA Sweltering Sunday: Light Winds and Looming Storms on the Red Sea

A Sweltering Sunday: Light Winds and Looming Storms on the Red Sea

It may well prove to be the lull before the storm with windy conditions forecast for Monday, but Sunday on the Red Sea was a sweltering affair as light confused offshore winds fought with the north-westerly zephyrs that today failed to dominate.

Temperatures were up at a heady 36 degrees and a delayed dock-out due to an oil leak on one of the AC40s rudder control systems actually proved fortuitous and gave Alinghi Red Bull Racing the best of the day in the afternoon. After dock-out at 1.30pm, the session was always going to be relatively short and with the wind failing to get above 9 knots it was a session of fighting to stay on the foils with the chase boat team called in regularly to tow-up.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Ahead of racing getting underway, Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin called for jib batten adjustments on their J2 LEQ sail to flatten out the wrinkles at the top and then quickly the two boats were into the pre-start action with Dean Barker and Phil Robertson doing a hyper-efficient jib on the first two. An interesting luff, the likes of which we don’t see very often in AC40 racing from Maxime Bachelin steering in the port pod was a touch and go affair that the coaches will look at and adjudge after sailing but Phil Robertson rolled over the top, gassed Max and dropped them off the foils. Close quarter in the AC40 is a very interesting dynamic to watch.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

By Race 3, Arnaud and Max were at their very best, starting clear and ahead and allowing them to sail away for the race win. With the wind seriously dropping, the Swiss squeezed in one more start that Dean Barker aced and with gambler’s flair, Arnaud tacked off immediately to hit the boundary in the hope of increased pressure. It didn’t come and the team touched down as Barker/Robertson sailed in to an unassailable lead around the top mark but then came off their foils too on the first gybe downwind.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

At this point it was becoming un-sailable so the day was called and the team returned down the Obhur Creek to their base. Speaking afterwards Nicolas Charbonnier commented on the day saying: “It was supposed to be totally different, quite windy this morning about 10 to 15 knots from the shore, but that never happened so we had a really light wind coming in the afternoon at 6 to 9 knots and we got the most of it and was still interesting for us and tomorrow should be really windy.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Talking about the batten tension issue on the water, Nico commented: “It’s too complicated to explain, it’s just like our sail designers are making the best sails they can and we need to make sure on the trimming of the sail, and that includes the batten tension is good so it was not exactly where we wanted it to be and we just had to adjust it…it’s more like the shape of the sail and the wrinkles it that can make if it’s too lose so it was just a little wrinkly so we  just had to tighten a little and it was much better.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Alinghi Red Bull Racing will conclude their latest Arabian training session on Monday and fly back to Barcelona ahead of their new AC75 launch at the beginning of April – it’s all happening with the Swiss and they’re thrilling to watch. (Magnus Wheatley) 

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s AC40-4 (Red) and AC40-7 (Black) were rolled out at 07:00 and 07:25 respectively. The day started with standard systems checks off the dock. A notable issue arose with a leak in the Red boat’s rudder system, leading to the boat being craned out for maintenance. The rudder was lowered 1 foot out of its fitting as works were carried out, involving both electronics and hydraulics technicians. The issue was resolved and the rudder was successfully repositioned, and the Red boat was craned back in by 11:10. Two twist grip flight controllers packaged up were also spotted being taken out of the base. Further work was carried out on the Red boat as more leaks in the starboard traveller hydraulic ram were noted.

The team decided to proceed with sailing despite a delayed start due to light turning winds, docking out at 13:30. Both boats were prepared with full LE sail plans, including a selection of J1, J2, and J3 jibs, with the crew swapping boats again. Nico Rolaz replaced Jason Waterhouse in the starboard trimming seat of the Black boat.

Stint 1 (13:50 – 14:19, 8-11.5kn 200° @ 13:45) Both boats began with free sailing separately, upwind and downwind, with Red stopping to tighten the tension of top battens on the J2-5. With wind decreasing towards the end of the stint, the J2 jibs were dropped, Red hoisted the J1-5 LE and Black hoisted the J1-4 LE.

Stint 2 (14:26 – 15:03, 6-8.5kn 190° @ 14:30) The course was set at 185°. Practice starts began, with Red entering on port for all the starts of the day. Start 1 and 2 saw both boats sailing at a distance from each other, with Black starting to leeward with an advantage to win both starts, notably being luffed up by Red after the first tack post Start 2, as Black rolled over Red and dropped them off the foils. It is not clear if Black were in the wrong, with Nico Charbonnier commenting that the situation will be analysed in the debrief. Start 3 / Race 1 (1 lap) saw Red start with a good lead as Black trailed behind due to a touchdown, allowing Red to cover upwind and secure the win at the downwind finish.

Stint 3 (15:09 – 15:30, 6-9kn 185° @ 15:15) Black practiced a couple of pre-starts and a lap of the course alone, as techs onboard worked on the cunningham system of the Red boat. Jason Waterhouse stepped onboard discussing tactics with the sailing crew in the meantime.

Stint 4 (15:35 – 15:42, 5-7.5kn 190° @ 15:35) In decreasing wind, both boats were tow started, but Black struggled to maintain flight through manoeuvres. Both boats were back on tow as they searched for wind to tow start.

Stint 5 (15:46 – 15:58, 4-5kn 155° @ 16:00) Start 4 / Race 2 (1 lap) saw Black start with a lead to leeward, as Red tacked off and sailed low to the right boundary in search of better wind but were quite a distance behind at the first crossing. Red touched-down on the tack to the layline, as Black rounded the windward mark ahead and reached for speed to complete the first gybe at the boundary, but also touched-down in the manoeuvre. The race was abandoned, and the decision was made to drop the sails and end the day, with wind reading at 4-5kn by the end of the stint.

The day concluded after three hours on the water, 105 minutes of sailing, and 53 manoeuvres observed of the Red boat, who achieved a 96% fully foiling rate despite the light wind conditions. The boats were craned out by 17:00, wrapping up a day marked by technical challenges and conflicting onshore/offshore wind.

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