Monday, April 22, 2024
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HomeRegattaSailGPSwiss Riders Brave the Storm in Jeddah

Swiss Riders Brave the Storm in Jeddah

The end of another top-class training camp for Alinghi Red Bull Racing who concluded their final trip to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with some real demonstration sailing in the upper wind ranges but had to wait for the wind to drop after two slow-mo capsizes – one for each AC40 in the opening part of the session.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

The meteorologists had called it right and as the team docked out, Jeddah was a maelstrom of wind driven wave forms and gusts approaching 30 knots as a front moved over the area at pace. In what rapidly descended into survival conditions the sailors were doing their best to keep the boats upright even under tow and with two boards firmly down. Crews could be seen counter-balancing the boat as the wind gusts, shifting as they came, rocked the AC40s alarmingly. Dextrous work and pretty impressive but it was only a matter of time before they plopped over on their sides. The call was thus made to repair back to the shelter of the Obhur Creek and ride out the storm dockside.

Two-and-a-half-hours later at 12.30pm, they tried again and with a residual swell and breeze still up towards the top end, we were treated to some fabulous free sailing and two decent pre-starts. The control on display, especially by Arnaud Psarofaghis, Maxime Bachelin, Bryan Mettraux and Nicolas Charbonnier sailing the ‘Red’ denominated boat was other-worldly with great trim co-ordination linking with dynamic steering and some smart manoeuvring.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Once the free sailing was done, it was down to business with a pre-start that looked touch and go for Arnaud and Max who held above the line and didn’t look like they made it back. Dean Barker and Phil Robertson started well and they continued into a short upwind before returning. Once back, it was Arnaud absolutely nailing the line, steering from the starboard pod and looking every inch a match-racing superstar as he hit the line on the ‘B’ of the ‘Bang’. A rapid upwind/downwind and the day, and indeed the camp, was then called and the sailors returned to the creek under tow – a brilliant six days in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and very much the envy of the other teams. Now it’s back to Barcelona and the hugely exciting phase of the campaign with the launch of their new AC75, code-named ‘BoatOne.’

Speaking afterwards, Rodney Ardern, Sailing Team Manager and Recon Rep for Alinghi Red Bull Racing spoke about the day saying: “We’ve have had a pretty good week through a variety of conditions. We were hoping to do a few more races on the last day today but got caught out by a bit of a front coming through and some pretty solid breeze and unfortunately, we just got one race away.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Talking about the capsizes, that are very much a part of the AC40 sailing, Rodney added: “Everything was good. Yeah one boat capsized immediately after releasing the tow, just had no boat speed to keep it upright but we thought it wise to come in and check it all as the breeze settled down and went back out, it was still pretty windy so held for another half an hour or so and then finally got a race away.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Overall, Rodney, one of the hardest driving campaigners in the America’s Cup seemed relatively pleased with the team’s progress saying: “I think everyone’s super happy how the trips here have gone. We’ve managed to get through plenty of testing, sail testing, and lot of crew work lot of match-racing but now it’s time to get back to Barcelona and focus on BoatOne….There’s always more things you would want to achieve and we probably didn’t achieve all of them but I think you know in general we’re pretty happy with our position…I think we’re happy where we’re at, like I said, we could always do better but that’s all just comes down to time on the water and what you can achieve with what you’re dealt with.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Looking forward to the new boat launch and commenting on the design window for these second-gen AC75’s, Rodney gave his critical eye saying: “I think being a second generation of boat everything will get a little bit closer…you’d always like to think you’ve designed a nice boat with an advantage but until we see the others it’s hard to know.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

All will be revealed in a matter of days now. The hours of design, testing and simulation all come to a crescendo on the big reveal and then the small matter of some five months until racing starts – vital time to work up the new boats and take on the challenge of the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup. It’s all about to get very interesting. (Magnus Wheatley)  

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s AC40-4 (Red) and AC40-7 (Black) were left on the forecourt overnight, with the yachts craned in at by 07:20 for the team’s last sailing day in Jeddah for this campaign. After standard systems checks and further mast rotation and traveller testing, the team docked out at 08:30, with the same crew combination as yesterday.

Stint 1 (08:53 – 08:57, 17-21kn 105° @ 08:53, 22-29kn 105° @ 09:10) Sails were hoisted as the Red boat set off and completed a tack and gybe, with wind quickly increasing. Meanwhile Black released from the towline and capsized immediately, prompting Red to come to a stop as the team focused on neutralising the situation. The decision was made to drop sails and return to base, as both boats were back on the towline, with Red capsizing just before dropping the jib. Red was righted and the team safely returned to base.

The team docked in 10:00 and proceeded to check systems and sails, before making the decision to resume sailing in the afternoon. The team docked out again at 12:30, as the boats were towed out to the Red Sea. After an hour standing by on the water waiting for winds to decrease, sails were hoisted again for a single stint of sailing.

Stint 2 (13:40 – 14:35, 15-20kn 105° @ 12:40, 15-19kn 130° @ 13:35, 12-18kn 130° @ 14:40) The boats engaged in an upwind/downwind free sailing warm-up separately ahead of racing. Start 1 saw both boats battle above the line with 10 seconds to go, as Black was able to get below the line in time, but it is uncertain whether Red was OCS or clear. Start 2 continued into a two-lap race, with Red starting on time, as Black undershot the layline to the start, apparently due to issues with wind instruments incurred in the capsize earlier in the day. Red covered Black throughout the two laps, as Black attempted to sail on opposite sides and capitalise on the big shifts, but were unable to catch up, seeing Red win the race.

The team returned to base and ended the day, docking in at 14:50. The training and testing program in Jeddah wrapped up with the boats craned out by 15:35 after spending just under four hours on the water, of which 60 minutes were spent actively sailing. The Red boat executed 45 manoeuvres, achieving a 91% fully foiling rate.

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