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HomeRegattaAmerica's CupFour AC75s Return to Perfect Afternoon Sailing Conditions in Barcelona

Four AC75s Return to Perfect Afternoon Sailing Conditions in Barcelona

Four AC75s back at it again in as close to perfect afternoon sailing conditions in Barcelona as you can possibly wish for, and all fighting for similar stretches of water along with the customary wing-foilers, jet-skis and even a few rudderless Patín a vela’s for good measure. Barcelona was busy but brilliant with every team having very clear testing agendas.

In the main, it was a similar format that we have seen with straight-line sighters for the analysts and then race laps for the sailors as the afternoon wore on for NYYC American Magic, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, INEOS Britannia and Alinghi Red Bull Racing in 14-16 knots of south-westerly breeze and flat water – perfection personified. The level of sailing in this Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup is undoubtedly high and getting higher with a pecking order hard to choose at this stage and the still, great unknown being the arrival in mid-June of the Defenders, Emirates Team New Zealand. The fast and furious are in town and it’s electric to watch.

Detailed team-by-team recon analysis is below so a scoot around the interviews reveals some interesting takes on what everyone is thinking. Hamish Wilcox, the 470 great and now Team Coach for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli is enjoying the scene of so many AC75s all in one very specific place, and talking about what the Italians are looking at from a recon perspective, he said: “Everything, it’s a fantastic opportunity when you’re sitting there racing, everybody is racing individually but they are all racing in the same part of the water so it’s awesome to be able to make those observations and sort of just get a feeling for where we are, where they are, and you can think where they’ve come from and where they’re headed to with what they’re doing, and I guess that’s what they’re doing with us.”

©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM

Tom Burnham at NYYC American Magic echoed Hamish’s words and gave an insight into the team’s mindset, saying: “It’s good, it’s nice to be out on the water with all the other teams and to be able to criss-cross with them every once in a while, and so just kind of heightens everybody’s awareness and gets everybody excited and it also gives the opportunity for the guys onboard to be communicating about what’s happening around the boat which is, I’m not going to say it’s race simulation, but just talking about avoiding chase boats and looking out for windsurfers and watching for the jet skis sort of keeps you a bit more focused on things outside of the boat than sailing around by ourselves, so it’s nice to have all the action out there on the water.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Tom sees big improvements all over that the American Magic team can improve on: “There’s tons of improvements to be made, we’re just still just scratching the surface with the consistency and working on all these different settings and as you’re working through different wind ranges on all the little bits and pieces that go to make a nice manoeuvre with how you trim the sails out of the manoeuvre and entering and exiting and heel and cant, trim. There’s so many variables in these boats and so there’s still a lot of work to do and a lot of a lot of consistency to gain yet.”

© ©Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

Will Bakewell, the Cambridge graduate and Test & Validation Team Lead at INEOS Britannia summed the day up for the British well, saying: “We split the day up a bit, the first half of the day we were doing slightly more technical tests, just a couple of things that we wanted to narrow in on, and then getting the boat on the racecourse and allowing the sailors to let rip there…It’s a lot easier in the sea state that we were in today, you can really see that change in stability so it’s useful to have these flat days to push the performance a bit…it’s good to explore all the conditions we’re going to get in August and September/October and just make sure that we’re performing as expected in those.”

© ©Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

The British have been noticeably playing around with what they call the ‘heave’ or height that they are flying, with the recon teams reporting increased height as well as a reversion back to the old AC36 legacy rudder today. Will was pretty dismissive on any changes saying: “I’m not sure about the heave but I guess the flat water allows…when you’ve got a sea-state it sort of dictates to you what you’re boat attitude needs to be, but in the flat water we have the room to experiment so yeah I guess a bit more variable.”

Luna Rossa introduced the Chase Boat into their pre-start practice and Hamish Wilcox saw great merit in the technique saying: “It’s always interesting for comms and things to have that other boat there, you can set up situations and scenarios that you know you will see so it’s really helpful just to bring that along you know I think it’s step by step so we don’t want to get too complicated at the moment but yeah it was nice to see the thing and have to do some of the classic moves you make on the course.”

©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM

Arthur Cevey, a key part of Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s Power Group gave an analysis of the Swiss session which was one of the shorter ones in comparison with the other teams at four hours, but highly focussed, saying: “Was a great day, we had a nice breeze outside, not too much waves so it was really nice to be able to train for solid hours and have a bit of testing so we enjoyed it, solid day for us…I think you know in the Cup you never have to lose the main objective, which is at the end racing, and you still have to develop the best boat as possible so we try to get a little bit better every day to improve the boat understand how to ride it 100% and we will still need to improve our racing skills and manoeuvres so it’s a good way to spend the day.”

©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM

And Arthur spoke about the intensity of having other AC75’s near on the water, saying: “I would say it’s going to be more intense and interesting as we move forward to the D-Day because there is more and more boats coming on the water, it makes doing lots of manoeuvres to avoid each other, to try to respect the rules, not line up and everything so yeah it gives a bit of freedom and I think it’s quite great.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Finally, Tom Burnham gave his over-arching impression of what he saw on the water and what he can foresee for the upcoming racing in a few months’ time, saying: “I think that all of the things that we’ve all thought were going to be the case, that it’s going to be a really good boat race on our hands in the fall, that all the boats are I imagine they’re going to be pretty close and it’s going to come down to executing really well, so we’re just working towards that.”

Execution is going to be everything at the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup. These boats look like they have all ended up with similar solutions to the rule and calling a winner at this stage is folly and madness. The team that innovates and brings it all together in one thundering crescendo in October will take home the ‘Auld Mug’ – for everyone else, it’s nothing. Who’s your money on? (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – INEOS Britannia: The British rolled out their AC75 at 09:00 and craned in at 09:30. We could immediately see that the legacy rudder (AC36) had been re-installed on the boat. The same cameras as last sailing session were installed on both port and starboard foils.  LiDAR cameras for mainsail and jib were also onboard.

Dock out was at 11:00, with Britannia towed to the entrance of the harbour where sails were hoisted. Mainsail MN2 was paired to a J4 jib. A wind of about 10-13 knots TWD 190 º @11:30 was blowing.

Today’s sailing session can be summarised in a total of 12 upwinds and 11 downwinds sailed with 35 tacks, 33 gybes and 4 JK manoeuvres drilled. The first three downwinds and two upwinds were done as a warm-up to set the boat up to the existing wind and sea state conditions. Then the next two upwinds were very long straight lines at different speeds while playing with different heaves (vertical position above the water – one of the key controls for Flight Control). According to Will Bakewell, who was interviewed at the end of the day said that they were: “just doing some tests to slow down the boat and see how it responds in those modes. So, we’re focusing on a full performance then”.

The following laps were done through four races of two laps each, except for the last one where just one lap was done before getting back to port. A course race was set a bit downwind to Port Olímpic by the team with four marks: two as the bottom gate and two upwind. 75% of the starts were entered from port and mark roundings were done 60% to starboard at the bottom gate and 60% to port side in the top mark.

The swaps done today:

  • One swap of batteries was done at 14:05, almost 2 hours and 25 minutes after they started to sail (2 hour and 5 minutes of effective sailing)
  • Two cyclor swaps were done: first after 70 minutes of effective foiling, second one after 55 minutes of effective foiling.

Key observations:

  • A total of four JK’s were executed in each training race: one after a port tack rounding which failed, and three after starboard roundings which were: 1 excellent and 2 greats (maybe some speed missing at the exit of the manoeuvre).

INEOS Britannia dropped sails at 15:30 and docked in at 16:00 after approximately 190 minutes of sailing. Jose Luis Piñana – INEOS Britannia AC Recon

On Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: American Magic rolled out Patriot at 10:50, with an update to their port foil as per component declaration. The yacht was craned in at 11:25 and following standard system checks, the team docked out at 12:55. The MN2-1 (smaller) mainsail and J3-1 were hoisted under the breakwater, with southerly thermal wind blowing between 10-14 knots and a flat sea state.

The first couple of stints were dedicated to drilling through manoeuvres, with adjustments made to the jib clew after the first stint. Free laps of the course were sailed, before the J3 was dropped in exchange for the J4, despite not much of a change in wind strength, suggesting at testing the crossover between the two jibs. A two-lap run of the course was sailed. Patriot entered the pre-start box on port, starting slightly late with the hull dragging through the water, and rounded a virtual windward gate to the right of the set gate in both laps.

Following the racecourse practice, the J4 was dropped as techs jumped on board and got to work on the hydro systems below deck. This lasted exactly two hours, and by 17:15, the team were up and sailing again. A long upwind/downwind/upwind was sailed, as the team drilled plenty of manoeuvres, performing a “tack and bear-away” / “gybe and round-up” at each end of the leg. The latter manoeuvres, as well as JK manoeuvres were repeated multiple times on each tack, within a short space.

Sails were dropped at 18:00, and the team docked in at 18:15, after more than 5 hours on the water to conclude sailing for the month of May. The team spent 111 minutes actively sailing, with 84 manoeuvres observed at a fully foiling rate of 96%.

During this month, since Patriot was launched, more than 26 hours of active sailing were recorded (avg 109 per day). 371 manoeuvres were observed by the recon unit (avg 51 per day) at an average 82% fully foiling. Justin Busuttil – AC Recon

On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: The Italians rolled out the B3 boat at 11:00, stepped the mast and craned in by 11:50. Dock-out was scheduled for 12:35 and the team hoisted mainsail M1-7 + jib J3-7. Just outside the harbour, with breeze from 185° and 12.5-14kn, the first stint began with a self-take-off at 15-16kn 80° TWA on starboard tack. 

The sea-state looked moderate with chop of 0.3-0.6 m from 210° over the entire day. A fast bear-away led the team to the first downwind run, proceeding with some gybes before trimming back for some additional straight-line and several tacks. This routine was drilled three times before coming to a stop during which marks were laid out. Then, two pre-starts drills were observed, spending two minutes in the box, each followed by an upwind and a downwind leg. The course length was measured 1.72nm and B3 sailed alone on the track at first.

At 14:30 the yacht was decelerated to swap port helm, port trimmer and two aft pod cyclors. In addition, batteries were switched after approximately 78 minutes. A short run was sailed but an issue, perhaps on jib track and/or mast base, forced the team to slow down the yacht, unclear the nature of the issue. No major, as the yacht was quickly foilborne again for a third pre-start drill. B3 seemed to start late executing a sudden and slow tack from starboard to port tack.

After sailing two legs and executing 4 tacks on the upwind and 3 gybes for the downwind the fourth starting drill was observed, now on starboard entry. Almost on the starting gunshot time, the chase boat started engaging with the yacht forcing comms and decisions on manoeuvres. Two races were sailed with four legs each. After a short break, the next pre-start drill saw the B3 yacht sailing full circles around the committee boat before starting and racing four legs.

At 16:15 the breeze was measured decreasing with 9.5-11kn from 195° and hence the J3-7 was dropped to hoist the J2-7. Up foilborne at 16:30, the last pre-start drill was practiced with starboard entry followed by two legs and extending the last upwind all the way towards the harbour gate to lower sails. The team docked in at 17:15 with approximately 156 minutes foilborne, 58 tacks and 49 gybes were counted, more consistent with 93% foil-to foil rate. Michele Melis AC Recon

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: The Swiss rolled out their AC75 at 09:50 and craned it to the water at 10:22. The team docked out at 13:00 as planned, after usual routine activities, with Nicolas Charbonnier back on the port side trimmer position. The same wing tips as the ones identified on Tuesday May 28th remained on both ends of the port side foil wing.

The M2-1 was selected for today´s session, combined with the J4-1. Both sails were hoisted just before heading out of the port. Medium winds from the south-southwest prevailed during the day, combined with mostly flat-water conditions.

The training started at 13:25 with a downwind-upwind warm up. Then there was a ten-minute break in which the J4-1 got lowered to adjust the length of the top lashing that connects to the halyard. Five minutes after, it got re-hoisted.

At 14:00 the session continued with two long upwind-downwinds, sailing mostly in a straight line. BoatOne seemed more stable and flying slightly lower than the past days, possibly as a result of an easier sea state. This double upwind-downwind was combined with some reach course straight line sailing on both tacks, possibly to test differences in between the port and starboard side foil wing tips at maximum boat-speed. In addition, in relation to the boat tuning, we noticed the uppers and lowers on the leeward side pretty slack, moving all the time and a considerable forestay sag.

At 14:36 there was a ten-minute break in which the hydraulics´ and electronics´ engineers got onboard, together with the boat captain and rigger.

The training continued with its focus shifted towards the tacks and gybes, executing one upwind-downwind doing approximately eight manoeuvres per leg, respectively.

We identified Alinghi Red Bull Racing changing course faster than other days through the manoeuvres and transitioning through head-to-wind with a more aggressive pitch angle. However, this again could be just as a consequence of better sea state conditions that permitted it.

At 15:10 there was a twenty-minute break in which the J3-1 came up to replace the J4-1, and the second shift of cyclors came onboard in replacement of the starting quatrain.

At 15:30 an extra upwind-downwind with multiple tacks and gybes was delivered by the Swiss team.

By 15:50 after a short five-minute break, Alinghi Red Bull Racing was back at the race-course area where marks had been laid by one of the coach boats, and the pre-starts training got underway.

At total of three sequences were executed, altering port and starboard entries and varying the starting position on the line.

The first two stints were abandoned immediately after the start, while the third one continued with a three-lap upwind-downwind with virtual lay lines, altering the top and downwind gates mark rounding to port and starboard; and racing against one of the chase boats that simulated as if it was a competitor who was ahead, tacking on their front on the upwinds and covering on the downwind legs.

After rounding the gates for the third time, Alinghi Red Bull Racing headed back to the base sailing upwind.

The AC75 entered the harbour sailing at 17:10, then proceeded to lower both sails and docked at 17:30. Thirty-five minutes later, it got craned out of the water indicating the end of the day. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on Alinghi Red Bull Racing

©PAUL TODD/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM

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