Monday, May 13, 2024
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupTeams from Italy and Switzerland Commence Tow Testing

Teams from Italy and Switzerland Commence Tow Testing

A day of firsts in this Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup with Alinghi Red Bull Racing launching in Barcelona and heading out for its first tow-test whilst in Cagliari, a mast-less Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli battled worsening weather for a quick, and at times eventful, tow-session in the morning.

For the Italians, there was a large sense of excitement as they docked-out from their Molo Ichnusa base with technicians onboard monitoring everything and the helms, Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni, and the flight controllers (Umberto Molineris and Andrea Tesei) getting to grips with a boat that they had only ever experienced before in the simulator.

Ride heights were tested and the speeds increased as confidence built, but a splashdown caused by a tow-line issue reminded everyone that AC75s have a habit of biting, and biting hard. For Luna Rossa, running the legacy foil configuration, perhaps this was to be expected as they experimented with flight height and for sure, the sailors will be looking forward to the day when the real foils are strapped on beneath them and sails are up aloft.

Speaking afterwards Horacio Carabelli, the highly experienced America’s Cup veteran and now Design Co-Ordinator for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli seemed pleased with the first impressions of the new boat, saying: “I think it’s pretty good, the first time that we have the boat out in the water, not sailing by itself but towing, but it was more about checking a little bit of systems now and getting ready for the first sailing. Pretty happy with how everything went today, think a great job from all the shore crew working on it and part of the yard people also involved on getting other bits and pieces ready and we will have in front of us a couple of days more hard work and hopefully we’ll be able to go and put the sails up.” 

Talking about the Luna Rossa hull profile which looks designed to end-plate highly effectively, Horacio added: “I think that everybody, all the teams, are investing in that, how you close, how you seal yourself with the sea level and it’s also about what’s going to be the conditions at the venue and everybody’s looking for something in that direction. I believe that when we have been developing and looking forward, we’re pretty happy with it at the moment but let’s see how it goes sailing…when we’re pushing hard it’s going to give us other answers as well.”

For Alinghi Red Bull Racing, it was a day of team celebration and media interviews before the sailors took charge of their new AC75 and gently towed it out into the harbour basin in the late afternoon.   

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

The new boat is the first of the new generation to feature the longer-span wings and looking at them up-close whilst on the dock the pivot join to the flap is almost completely hidden. At the mid-section there is clear indication of movement with a split but to the naked eye they almost look like a solid piece of carbon running full length. The obligatory cameras are monted on the outer tips and at the trailing edge. As a first iteration, they are a mighty piece of engineering.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

The look of the new Swiss boat is all business (detailed analysis in previous article) and the commissioning process starts here with the hard-driving sailors keen to get into it and explore just what this ‘radical’ design can deliver. A quick tow lasting just over 40 minutes and the newly christened boat was brought back to the dock- long days ahead for sure. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: On their first day, the Italian team Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli rolled out their new B3 AC75 around 8:15am. The plan consisted of a tow session and the team had to anticipate the heavy breeze forecast for midday. As the boat was craned in, systems checks were carried out involving several engineers and sailors. The pod configuration consists of the flight controller/trimmer most forward followed by the helm and two cyclor pods. On this day, no power group was observed onboard as the pods were boarded by six sailors, the design coordinator and one hydraulic technician.

As the boat was docked out, the team started towing and the first lift-off was recorded on 14-15 knots, reasonable considering that wing configuration. The team ran through different pitch angles and cant angles over a range of boatspeeds. On the forecast: upper range pressure with up to 23kn from 315° TWA and some longer period swell from SE.

The first tow-run reached a boat speed of 20 knots before turning around and proceeding with the second one at 25 knots and finally increasing to 30 knots. After the boat turned around for the second time and towing resumed on a straight-line, the boat seemed to lose stability with a large spray, touching down dropping the bow smoothly before finding stability again and the team stopped after approximately 15 minutes uninterrupted tow as some issues can be assumed on the towline.

Two shorter tow stints followed while sailors moved the towline from port to starboard before the team headed back to base on tow lasting 5 minutes. The boat was craned out at approximately 10:55 [Michele Melis, AC Recon].

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: A full day of activity at the Alinghi Red Bull Racing base in Barcelona saw the Swiss syndicate rig, christen, and launch, the team’s latest generation AC75 before rounding off with a session of low-speed towing in the nearby harbour basin. The boat’s mast was rolled out at 0850 with the AC75 itself emerging from the hangar at 0902. The mast was stepped by 0920 after which the shore crew spent an hour and 25 minutes setting up the mast for the first time. At 1120 the boat was lifted a few feet above its cradle for what appeared to be some calibration of the two foils in full down mode. After returning the boat to its cradle it was prepared for the afternoon christening ceremony with covers over the cockpits and a sponsor flag on the forestay. The boat was hung from the crane at 1250 for a photoshoot with what appeared to be the entire ARBR staff lining the team base’s two enormous balconies. At 1400 a local team of Castellers along with members of the team formed a human pyramid with at the very top a young girl carrying the bottle of champagne that at 1400 was broken across the bow to christen the boat. The boat was craned afloat at 1415 for 2 hours and 15 minutes of setup and testing – including testing of the foil cant system by raising and lowering the foil arms. The crew docked out at 1636 for roughly an hour of low speed towing (bow and side) to assess its handling characteristics. The boat returned to the dock at 1720.

Recon observations:

  • Foil arms with two ‘shoulders’: the upper one aft, flat on bottom and curving up towards the stock, with an access panel visible; the lower one forward and flat on top with curve down towards the stock.
  • Foil wing aft of centred torpedo bulb.
  • Wing is slightly curved downwards with curve starting in the middle of the ‘arms’ of the wing
  • Outer tip curves upward with a small torpedo bulb (camera?)
  • Inner tip is straight with a small torpedo bulb (camera?)
  • Camera on back edge of foil arm above wing
  • Camera underneath wing
  • Enclosure on bustle. Camera?
  • Perspex bubble windscreen for flight controller
  • Anti-vibration units on shrouds
  • Small cameras on the transom.
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