Monday, April 22, 2024
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupAlinghi Red Bull Racing Embracing the Spirit of Dedication

Alinghi Red Bull Racing Embracing the Spirit of Dedication

“Commitment to the commitment” was a most famous phrase that Dennis Conner used back in the 1980’s to describe the dedication needed in America’s Cup campaigns. Alinghi Red Bull Racing are more than applying the quote to their thrilling campaign with another super-intense training session out on the stunning waters of the Red Sea on Saturday.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

As so often happens in Jeddah, the early morning Arabian northerly zephyrs give way quickly to a thunderous, boisterous,and almost reliable, north-westerly breeze that builds to 17-20 knots of intensity and ushers in a challenging sea-state. Bang on cue that’s what happened today and although for the sailors, the breeze isn’t an issue and is something they revel in, it’s the sea-state that invariably catches them out with the short hull-length of the AC40 a real handful through the peaks and troughs.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Almost from the outset the Chase Boats were in on Dean Barker and Phil Robertson who nosedived and went into a capsize on a warm-up stint of paralleling with the super-fast Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin. Capsizing as we’ve seen all around the world in both training and racing is very much part of the AC40 game and it’s quite the thrilling spectacle but the boats are resilient and more often than not, so long as the cockpits aren’t too flooded, the professional Chase Boat crews get the boat up and running and back to sailing.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

It took about 20 minutes for checks to be completed but Deano and Phil were back at the start-line for some pre-start practice and laps of a laid course. Staying up on the foils in the first race was a challenge and Arnaud and Max capitalised on an error from their training partners and sailed off for half a leg before returning. The next start saw Phil Robertson at his very best on the lead-back into the line with some very good time-on-distance to win the start and repeated it start three – plenty to think about for the young guns.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

With gusts of 20 knots now filtering in, start four saw the Barker/Robertson boat come off the foils and then languish unable to get back into the pre-start and allowing their opposition to steal an uncontested start. Arguably the best of the racing was in the final race of the day with Robertson again smashing the pre-start time-on-distance, setting up to leeward and then covering hard as Psarofaghis and Bachelin tacked away. Just nine seconds separated them at the top mark where the Swiss duo almost lost it on the bear-away and allowed the hired guns to keep it cool and ahead down to the leeward mark. After rounding, the call was made to sail back to their Obhur Creek base and conclude what had been another stunning day of training.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Great interview afterwards with Support Boat driver Olly Bampton who was on the Chase Boat trailing Dean Barker and Phil Robertson. Talking about the capsize, Olly commented: “Well from the outside it looked almost like they hit a jellyfish with the rudder! No, I’m not really sure, it looks like we’ve lost the rudder somehow and yeah just did a bit of a pitch pole but quickly recovered it and got the boat back sailing…from my perspective, the chase boat that supports each yacht doesn’t actually right the boat we have another chase here, another asset, so as they are righting the vessel we’re just on standby to pick up any of the pieces or people that need help and then once the boat’s upright we’re alongside and straight into checks just so we can get the yacht back up and running and back out sailing.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Top work again from all the support teams in Jeddah where the mercury touched 34 degrees on the water and is significantly hotter on land – tough work. More to come on Sunday for the hardest-driving team in the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup. Impressive, again. (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 09:50 and 10:15 respectively. Both boats underwent systems checks before a safety brief on the dock for the on-water technical crew. The team docked out at 13:00 with J1s and J2s LE jibs carried on the chase boats, with LE mainsails and J3 LE jibs prepared on the yachts.

The crew configuration remained the same, aside from Phil Robertson and Dean Barker swapping helm positions on the Red boat. A small red maple leaf sticker was added to the port mainsail skin of the Red boat, a small nod to Phil Robertson. The challenging wind chop grew from mild to aggressive within the first hour on water.

Stint 1 (13:23 – 13:53, 13-17kn 305° @ 13:25) Sailing commenced with each boat free sailing upwind/downwind before joining up and sailing in parallel for sail testing. The stint ended dramatically as Red nosedived and subsequently capsized during a leeward rounding, prompting immediate tech review and a replacement of the bowsprit wind wand.

Stint 2 (14:00 – 14:20, 13-17kn 310° @ 14:00) While Red continued works, Black set off to practice pre-starts, entering on starboard, as they would be entering on this side for all the starts today. Red set sail 20 minutes from the capsize, briefly testing systems post-repair before aligning for practice starts.

Stint 3 (14:23 – 14:53, 14-17.5kn 315° @ 14:25) Start 1 saw Red fall off the foils with 1 minute to go, allowing Black to start well ahead. A good fight ensued in Start 2, with Black starting ahead and controlling the one lap race, with a downwind finish.

Stint 4 (14:49 – 15:00, 15-19kn 320° @ 14:50) Wind conditions intensified, as Red won Start 3 and controlled the first half of the upwind, before both boats turned back downwind and stopped to changed batteries.

Stint 5 (15:13 – 15:25, 15-20kn 320° @ 15:10) Start 4 saw Red touch down in a manoeuvre and were unable to recover, leaving Black to start alone. Both came to a stop, with checks carried out on Red as the sailors were observed changing sailing kit.

Stint 6 (15:30 – 15:53) Start 6 continued into a second one lap race. Red started ahead to leeward, as Black tacked off with Red following soon after. Black split off again seeking clear air. Red was ahead at the windward mark by about 9 seconds, maintaining the lead to the leeward gate, as Black almost lost it on the rounding. Both boats sailed half the upwind, before turning downwind to sail back to the Obhur Creek to drop sails and end the day.

After three hours on the water and 115 minutes of sailing, the 100 manoeuvres were observed of the Black boat, of which 90% were fully foiling.

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