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HomeRegattaAmerica's CupSurprise Winds in Barcelona Lead to Thrilling Training Session for America's Cup...

Surprise Winds in Barcelona Lead to Thrilling Training Session for America’s Cup Teams

From what looked to be quite an unpromising weather forecast, wind-wise, Saturday in Barcelona actually turned out to be one of the most entertaining and enlightening training sessions that we’ve seen so far in the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and NYYC American Magic were the only two teams on the water and with everyone fighting to sail in the same stretch of water, the inevitable happened and we got a first sight of boats lining up loosely against each other – the rules precluding actual two-boat racing.

The action occurred mid-way through both teams’ extensive five hours on the water in a light breeze that peaked at around 11-12 knots and fairly flat water. NYYC American Magic sailed over to the Italians and for about seven miles of an upwind and downwind they were crossing each other and clearly pushing it with both boats gaining or losing on shifts but the Americans arguably just shading it on boatspeed downwind before shearing away and resuming their race training on their laid-mark course.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

After sailing both teams were keen to distance from any accusation of racing with jimmy Spithill saying: “I didn’t see the Americans, were they out there?” Terry Hutchinson gave a fuller answer saying: “It’s nice to have the other teams out on the water, obviously the Italians are very well polished team and so being in the same general vicinity with them was good, they have a very nice package and you can see that, you can see a lot of positive features inside of their set-up and so working within the boundaries of what we’re allowed to do, when the shift was their way they went quite well. I think it’s exciting to see, as we saw in AC36, is how all the design teams kind of get to a spot where a very complicated boat becomes very close racing.”

Aside from the line-up, NYYC American Magic put in a big shift today with Terry describing it saying: “It was a good day, we were really interested in the lighter side of the forecast for today and so we got out there at 11:00am and as Barcelona’s been delivering we went straight off on starboard on the J1 in the lighter setup and it was only like six-and-a-half to seven knots and so really trying to figure out all the settings and how the boat’s performing downrange…and so in that regard it was a really good day and then we expected a little bit of a build that never really materialised, mid midway through the session we put up the J2 thinking that it was going to build and the breeze actually backed off and so it was good to experience the entire side of that whole day.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Terry has created a very structured training and development process that he described saying: “We’re trying pretty hard to do any of the testing that we do all inside the boundaries and inside a racecourse. There’s a hundred different ways that you can skin the development cat and yet you have to be able to do it all on a racecourse and so I’m sure there are times that we could do it differently, but we’re really focused on the starting side, we’re focusing on racing to the boundaries and getting the boat into mode as quick as possible off the starting line and seeing how she performs in that set up and environment.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

When asked how ‘dialled-in’ Patriot is now after some twelve days of sailing that equates to just over 20 hours on the water, Terry responded: “That’s a good question I think we’re on a scale of one to 10 we’re about a 6 or 5, there’s a lot of work to do inside, the boat gets better every single day and what you don’t see are all the systems and all the functions that take place inside the boat, really the operating system of the boat so there’s a human side and then there’s the mechatronic side and so I truly feel like we’re only scratching the surface of it.”

For Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli it was a very full day of training on this, their second day with the AC75 in Barcelona. Jimmy Spithill was interviewed afterwards and seemed more than pleased to have symmetric foils now onboard saying: “It was a great day today for us, we got a solid probably four-five hours out there. Bottom-end conditions, 9-12 knots and a little less seaway than yesterday…The new wing felt great, it was good to have them paired together for manoeuvres and just good to get some time on it so yeah good result from the guys in the shed just to be able to get out there and put some solid hours on it…It feels a lot different, it was a big compromise with the manoeuvres when we had the old wing on. So much, much, better. Now we can really lock in and really work through our playbook.”

Jimmy was positive about the move to Barcelona with the team now all based in the city through to the end of the Cup and it will be an intense period from now as they get used to the conditions: “Besides the French you know we’ve really spent the least amount of time on an AC75 here so you know we’re just trying to learn the racetrack but it’s good to be based here and now just putting hours in out there. It’s a tough track, there’s a lot of stuff in the water which we’ve got to be really careful of and a few of the teams told us that before we got here, and there’s a lot of activity and a lot of guys foiling and SUPing – quite the activity.”

Talking about the set-up on the boat, Jimmy added: “We’re pretty much set up the same I think as the majority of the other teams with the two guys driving and doing a bit of jib trimming and then clearly the front guys are dedicated foil flight controllers and then they do a bit of sail control so yeah, it’s a little bit of everything except that from the past campaign Cecco (Francesco Bruni – co helm) and I don’t touch the flight control.”

The team performed a number of pre-starts today but Jimmy aired his views about the one-design software that all the teams have to use saying: “That’s the biggest change for this Cup, we have to use the Kiwi race software, everyone has to use that one design software so it’s going to be interesting to see if they modify that as we get closer to the racing.”

Luna Rossa are scheduled to sail next Tuesday whilst American Magic will be back on the water on Monday. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: American Magic rolled out Patriot at 09:00, again with a new spray rail arrangement on both foils, and the same half cover on the port forward cyclor pod. The yacht was craned in at 09:20 and standard checks were performed by the tech crew. The team docked out at 11:00 and hoisted the MN1-1 mainsail and J1-1 jib under the breakwater, before setting sail at 11:30.

The team began drilling manoeuvres in the light wind, peaking at 10 knots at the southern end of the sailing area, and as low as 6 knots downwind at the north end by the Forum. An easterly residual swell from the previous day was present but reduced slowly as the day progressed. The J1 was exchanged with the J2-1 after two stints as the wind increased slightly, ahead of racecourse practice, with all pre-start entries on port. The 1.75NM course was set at 180 degrees, with Start 1 continuing into (Race 1) two laps of the course. The yacht looked marginally OCS on Start 2, as the race was abandoned halfway up the first leg, with the team transitioning into bear-away and round up practice. These manoeuvres were performed in relatively quick succession and repeated on both tacks. This was followed by a full cyclor rotation and battery change.

Start 3 / Race 2 saw three legs of the course sailed, as the team abandoned the final downwind leg and aimed for the Italians. Both boats then sailed a long upwind/downwind in the vicinity of each other, crossing on many occasions. Initially the lead went back and forth as the shifts were played, but American Magic pulled ahead toward the latter part of the upwind. The Italians bore away first, but still crossed behind the Americans at the first downwind cross, and maintained the gap for the remainder, albeit a fairly short distance apart.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Both boats split from each other after sailing 3.5 NM downwind, as the Americans returned to their racecourse. Start 4 was not the team’s best start of the day as they touched down before the final approach to the start, crossing the line a few seconds late once returning to foil. A full two laps were sailed, before the team came to a stop, for Tom Slingsby to hand the starboard helm over to Doug DeVos. Sailing ended under the breakwater, as the J4-1 was hoisted for checks following the repair to the headboard.

American Magic docked in at 16:20 after just over five hours on the water, and 163 minutes of active sailing. 106 manoeuvres were performed, the most of any day for Patriot so far, with a fully foiling rate of 78%, and overall, fairly equal performance between tacks and gybes taking into account touch and go manoeuvres. No marks on the course were reset at any point during the day. Justin Busuttil – AC Recon

On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: The team rolled out their B3 at 11:20 and craned in at 11:55 with the updated wings fitted with cameras combined to overnight added white markings on bottom and top sides. Some differences were detected analysing the upper weight bulb on both arm stocks, showing a more slender one on port with a cleaner junction. The team ran through the usual dock checks before leaving the dock at 13:15 to hoist main M1-7 with the J1.5-4. The breeze was measured 7-9kn from 185° with approx. 0.55m swell from 150°, which decreased during the day developing in cross chop. The first stint began at 13:47 with a self-take-off on starboard tack with recorded boat speed of 15-16.5kn and 85° TWA. 

In the first part of this stint, the yacht sailed mostly straight lines upwind and downwind spending more time on starboard tack. Then the team added some manoeuvres practice, out of which the majority was foil to foil while occasionally crossing tacks with AM before decelerating after 48 minutes foilborne. 

The second stint lasted another 33 minutes and unfolded quite similarly with mostly straight line sailing in the first part and manoeuvres in the second part. As the breeze was increasing to 9-11 from 195° the team lowered the J1.5 to hoist the J2-7.  When the yacht decelerated, crew rotations were arranged for port helm, port trimmer and both port pods cyclors. In addition, three batteries were seen being changed for the hydro systems after approx. 80 minutes foilborne, two take offs and 28 manoeuvres were executed. The third stint began at 15:40 with additional straight line sailing before the chase boats lined up for a starting gate. The virtual course was set to be 1.6nm long and B3 required 4 tacks to reach windward mark and 3 gybes for the downwind leg.

After a quick break, the team proceeded with additional two starting practice followed by two legs each while the chase boat engaged within the starting box and during laps.

Overall, another solid day for the team which docked in at 18:00 with 168 minutes foilborne, while 43 tacks and 38 gybes were counted with 85% foil-to-foil rate Michele Melis AC Recon.

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