Friday, June 21, 2024
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HomeRegattaAmerica's CupAlinghi Red Bull Racing and INEOS Britannia Thrill in Perfect Barcelona Conditions

Alinghi Red Bull Racing and INEOS Britannia Thrill in Perfect Barcelona Conditions

Barcelona has been serving up truly momentous weather conditions for the past month and today was just another day at the world’s most perfect office. Alinghi Red Bull Racing and INEOS Britannia lit the after-burners on a memorable session in a Garbi sea-breeze that peaked just above 20 knots and a fairly choppy sea state that called for accuracy. Both teams looked sublime in the conditions, releasing the awesome power of their current generation AC75s and made sailing look not only easy but thoroughly enjoyable – a great advert for the sport.

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

Superlatives are running out for INEOS Britannia at the moment as they executed what looked like an ‘analyst’s day’ with plenty of straight-lining at warp speed. With Pitot tubes protruding from the foil bulbs, Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Giles Scott were steering the boat like they’d stolen it from the Port Vell. This was full-on, max pace, hard press, game-on stuff with the smaller MN2-1 mainsail that the boat looks so comfortable with, paired to the micro triangular, low-drag J5-1 jib with its distinctive pin-head and point load.

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

Balance is everything with the British and the highly technical trim team of Leigh McMillan and Bleddyn Mon, both sitting in the aft pods, seemed to be able to mode the boat however they wanted. Windward heel into the gusts? No problem. Flat and fast. You got it. Bit of leeward heel and a slightly higher ride height. Gimme a sec. This was great moding, great sailing from a team that just know what they have under them. Scary to think that they will get better and better with plenty more developments coming onstream.

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

Britannia’s potential is undoubted, and an ominous signal of intent was posted to the Swiss who connected with them on the racecourse late in the afternoon. The recon team observing saw the British make the first cross and then extend “on every cross” thereafter before disengagement. Impressive sailing from the team, particularly with the shorter legacy AC36 rudder onboard today. This is clearly an area that teams are investing in – we’ve seen NYYC American Magic and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli doing similar – but for now the ‘RO1’ new rudder is back in the shed for surgery.  

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

Speaking afterwards, Giles Scott summed up the day saying: “We were a little later off the dock this morning, had a few issues to resolve with one of the chase boats but yeah we got out there as the Garbi sea breeze was firmly in and yeah real nice, three hours of yachting around in perfect conditions, 15 to 20 knots, pretty flat water yeah Barcelona put it on for us today.”

Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Talking about the crossing on the racecourse with the Swiss and the obvious heightened interest from the sailors, Giles added: “We had a little a little look at Alinghi Red Bull Racing, we ended up on opposite tacks here and there going upwind and we feel pretty good with where we’re at with our yacht and to be honest we got to stay focused on that. It’s pretty hard to tell where these other teams are at, it’s close, but we’ve just got to keep pushing.”

©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP

And talking about the confidence levels that are exuding from the team at the moment with everyone admiring their performances, there was no getting carried-away from Giles who gave the ultimate professional’s answer: “It’s good. Yeah, confidence is high. We think we’ve certainly got a lot of a lot of work to do, we feel like we’ve got a lot of gains to make and we’re finding that hugely motivating and that’s where our focus is.” 

Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

For Alinghi Red Bull Racing it was an interesting day on the water with the team putting Dean Barker and Phil Robertson into one of the AC40’s with the full intention of adding real-time pressure in the pre-start area. It was an interesting exercise, particularly in a relatively tight starting box with the more nimble AC40 able to chase down its bigger sister and really force some decision-making. Both Robertson and the highly experienced Barker are both known as hard-chargers in the starting area so this was a valuable exercise and perhaps something we will see more of in the future.

Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Aside from the drills in the box, Alinghi Red Bull racing put in plenty of technique runs both upwind and downwind, concentrating on flight, bear-aways and manoeuvres whilst the end of the session, with the AC40 heading back to base saw engagement with INEOS Britanni as described above.

Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Interesting to note the high tensions being run today on the mainsail with ‘speed creases’ leading back from the middle of the sail to the clew area – something we tend not to see as pronounced on other AC75’s. On the jib, the team were running the J4-1 today, one of the smaller jibs with an interesting finish at the head and some very neat batten work to create a semi-gaff.

Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

The recon team spoke with Simulator lead, Yves Courvoisier after sailing and he summed up the day for the Swiss succinctly, saying: “It was a beautiful day, it was a stronger breeze, a lot of training, manoeuvres, the boat went super well so a very happy day…My focus is watching the sailing, trying to get creative understanding what’s happening and coming back with some input, some small tricks to see if we can make a couple of things go better.”

Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

With so much work being conducted in the simulator, Yves’s description of what the team are trying to achieve was well balanced, saying: “The simulator, I think it’s a perpetual quest of perfection, some areas where the simulator is better than others, we have put more energy in (some areas) than others and so we know what we want to reach as the reality but we are you know brick after brick working on the path to get closer to that.”

On-Water Recon Report – INEOS Britannia: INEOS Britannia rolled out their AC75 at 10:00, back again with the legacy rudder in replacement of the R01 seen the past two days. At 10:35 it was craned to the water and the team docked out at 12:30, as planned, after usual routine activities.

The MN2-1 of smaller sail area and narrower top section than the MN1-1 was selected for today’s session, combined with the J5-1. Both sails were hoisted just before heading out of the port at 13:05.

Very stable south-south-westerly strong winds of 16 to 19 knots of intensity prevailed during the session, combined with choppy seas that made it hard for all chase boats to keep up with the AC75. Today’s training consisted mostly of straight lines, combined with some tacks and gybes.

No marks were used, and no boat handling exercises were practiced. In general terms, the INEOS British boat looks fast, stable and naturally well-balanced.

The session started with a long run, then there was a short stop close to Port Forum at 13:30. The training continued with three long upwinds, and two long downwinds, before a half-an-hour break close to the harbour at 14:30 in which there was a cyclors rotation, while the sailors debriefed, and the rigger went up to the top of the mast for an unidentified reason.

Sailing was resumed at 15:00 with four extra downwind-upwinds, engaging with Alinghi Red Bull Racing on the third one, with both boats sailing on opposite tacks almost all the time. On the first cross INEOS Britannia was just ahead and extended consistently on every cross from there on.

At 15:55 INEOS Britannia ended the session and proceeded to lower both sails just outside the port. The AC75 entered the harbour on the tow and docked at 16:20. Thirty-five minutes later, it got craned out of the water indicating the end of the day. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on INEOS Britannia

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: The Swiss rolled out their BoatOne AC75 at 9:30, mast was stepped, and the yacht was craned in at 9:55. The detected changes on the starboard foil arm stock were documented. At the dock, the team seemed to conduct usual tests, including spanner rotations, FCS etc. Dock-out was scheduled for 11:30 and, considering the higher range building breeze, the M2-1 was hoisted and paired with the J4-1, side-on shots were taken.

The sea-state included a light chop at first which increased steadily during the day. By the time B2 exited the harbour with released tow-line, the breeze was measured 15-17 knots from 190°. The first self-take-off was observed with the windward board partially lifted and, once foilborne, the yacht bore-away for some downwind gybes. On the already placed marks, the yacht trimmed up for an upwind run, the following round-up did not seem entirely well executed and the yachts decelerated afterwards. Technicians were observed working around the main and jib sheeting systems.

The yacht was back foilborne at 12:35 and the team started practicing pre-start drills, engaging with a sparring crew on the AC40. With BoatOne on port entry, the yachts engaged on the upper right-hand side of the box, BoatOne sailing full circles as soon as entered, often resulting in the AC40 chasing down the AC75. All chase boats were placed to windward, hard to observe exact start timings. Breeze seemed to be building to 16-17 knots from 210°, J4-1 was lowered and J5-1R was hoisted instead. Additional four drills were practiced by the team and BoatOne had always port entry, short debrief seemed to happen after each drill.

Every race was abandoned after the start as the focus remained on pre-start pressure. At 14:24, cyclors were observed swapping, marks were then collected while the AC40 headed back to the harbour. The last part of the team’s training day unfolded in approx. 20 knots and involved drilling straight-line runs with a small number of manoeuvres in the choppy waters.

After a quick stop in Badalona, the team sailed upwind sharing split tacks with the British challenger before stopping by the harbour. BoatOne was docked in by 16:20 and craned out at 16:45 with 136 minutes of effective sailing, 34 tacks, 24 gybes. Michele Melis AC Recon.

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