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Challenger Teams Gear Up for Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup in Near-Perfect Garbi Conditions

All the challenger teams for the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup had ear-marked today as a ‘big one’ with near perfect Garbi conditions of 16-18 knots and relatively flat-water to give all five AC75s, including Orient Express Racing Team on her maiden tow-test, a thorough shakedown. Brilliant to watch, the unofficial line-ups were again revealing and there’s a real sense of things becoming very serious as the business-end of this cycle hove’s into view.

For Orient Express Racing Team, it was day one of commissioning with the boat undergoing a tow-testing session up and down the racetrack in near-perfect conditions. As usual, the cant and hydraulics were under the spotlight but this looked like a decent outcome for a boat straight out of the tent where she has been fitted-out over the last month.

Speaking about how the testing went, Benjamin Muyl, the mercurial French designer was asked about the teamwork that has got them to this point and he replied: I’m not going to say the typical, classical: ‘huge work from the team’ blah blah blah but actually it is pretty good, I mean obviously everyone has been under the tent for several weeks and working out and solving the many issues that we had as everyone is facing in these phases, and we’re super happy to have done this successfully without any problems on the water – that’s what matters.”

Asked whether the team were still receiving any input from Emirates Team New Zealand whose design and engineering package they purchased, Benjamin added: “No, not at all. Not disclosing anything that was in the agreement between Team New Zealand and us, but for sure since the first of the two boats have been launched, we’re not getting any information from them beyond: ‘this part doesn’t fit with this part’ which is not at all related to performance or anything.”

Having docked-in after the tow-session, the team went back out into the harbour for a sail fitting of the mainsail and J2 and J3 jibs with the first proper day of sailing being scheduled for Thursday. Exciting times for this super-likeable challenger.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

For INEOS Britannia, it was another just sensational day for the team on the water with ‘Britannia’ looking uber-powerful and totally revelling in the conditions. Worth noting the exit speeds out of the tacks with little to no noticeable speed-build and a real speed-carry through the very rapid turn.

One piece of recon highlighted today is the hard-halyard on the jib, almost like a shroud, which may well explain why the British have pin head, point-loaded jib geometries. Ben Cornish described it as: “It’s something that we actually started to progress on T6, our development boat, and… we use that instead of a soft halyard just something we’re doing uniquely…it’s more of a guaranteed amount (load) that we know that’s up there, there’s no stretching halyard and all that.” The actual pin-head jib development stretches back to the days of the team’s prototype T6 as Ben confirmed: “That development process all fed into this boat so quite happy the direction it’s going and it’s certainly not finished yet as with all the other stuff, it’ll keep developing right through until race day one.”


Another interesting reveal in the post-race interview was that Ben Cornish sailed all day today through the near 6-hour session on the water with no rotation. Recent interviews have confirmed that many of the team have dual-roles onboard ‘Britannia’ and for someone of Ben’s supreme sailing calibre, it may well be that he has a very key role in the actual sailing of the boat alongside the power generation required as a cyclor. His legs won’t be thanking him tonight!


Talking about the unofficial line-ups that were again in evidence today and again showed INEOS Britannia to be potent, Ben added: “It’s certainly boat racing let’s put it like that, there’s long drags of upwind where boats are on opposite tacks and yeah there’s really not much in it from what we can see and nobody’s running away with this and no one is lagging behind, so I think it’s setting out really nicely for a close summer of proper racing.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Development in this final push is crucial and the whole INEOS Britannia team is fully aware that the clock is ticking as Ben described: “We’re pushing the development all the way through until the eventual America’s Cup but we need to arrive on day one at full race sharpness and there’s only 80 days left so there’s not there’s not many sailing days in reality, so every day we’re out there even if the testing process is to go through a list of items, it always has to end with some racing and some proper routine.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

After yesterday’s curtailed session, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli wheeled out of the shed this morning sporting the legacy rudder from AC36 having removed the new one that was clearly the issue despite Jimmy Spithill’s denial in interview yesterday. The team went into a solid day on the water marred by just a couple of stops – one for a jib issue and another for a Cunningham issue that took 40 minutes to repair.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

One of the interesting line-ups was recorded by the recon team saying that Luna Rossa joined up with American Magic for a long downwind gybing battle: “Luna Rossa started ahead, but after two tacks, American Magic took the lead and maintained a gap for the following four crosses down to Badalona. Both yachts rounded up to engage in upwind split tacks, with Luna Rossa starting ahead. The gap was closed after a few tacks and once level, the lead was exchanged back and forth. After 4.5 NM upwind, both yachts peeled off and separated.” Interesting.

Justin Bussuttil / America’s Cup

Speaking afterwards Francesco Bruni confirmed the rudder issue saying: “We found that (the new rudder) was not everything as planned and so we went back to the old rudder, we are planning some small mods to the new one, it’s part of the game, nothing new there, so yeah we are looking forward to have it back in the water but for the moment we stick with the old one.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

The Italians also had what looked like Cunningham issues that forced them to stop and call in the technicians with Francesco adding: “We had very small breakdown, some plastic parts but that could become some big snowball, so we decided to stop to fix it, in order not to have any further damage. It was a little bit time consuming, but I think it was the right decision so that we could sail safely for the rest of the session.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Talking about the line-up seen with NYYC American Magic today, and whether they could feel any speed differences, Francesco diplomatically answered: “We were in the same piece of water, I mean just on the racecourse, and we are crossing each other many times, it’s hard to take any conclusions because you are always on split tacks, most of the time the right side of the course looks to be a little bit better so it’s hard to draw any conclusions honestly, but I think it’s still pretty close, there is not big evidence of one going better than the other.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

And talking about the developmental pathway now through to racing in late August, Francesco sagely added: “I think you can always improve, and you have to always keep trying to improve. I’m sure that there is still a good margin there, we felt good today but never perfect.”

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

For NYYC American Magic, so very often the protagonist for on-course speed tests it was a solid five hours on the water of pure out-and-out race practice with the ultra-competitive Tom Slingsby back on the starboard helm, linking up with Paul Goodison on port and the duo pushed hard all afternoon with 55 tacks and gybes at a 100% foil-to-foil rate a good return.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Speaking afterwards, Paul Goodison gave his assessment on the increasing line-ups that the team find themselves in and whether they can deduce anything from them, saying: “Yeah, for sure you do. Our primary goal today was race training, we did a bunch of pre-starts, a bunch of laps around the course and at times we were exchanging with other boats where you get a bit of a feel from whether you gain or lose when you’re on opposite tacks, then you tack and come back and you see whether you’re a bit further in front or a bit further behind, it’s awesome to have all the boats out there and it makes it really fun sailing.”

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Paul also spoke about the differences between the old and new Patriot’s with a surprising answer, saying: “There’s massive differences between this and the old boat, night and day, I think  maybe top end the old boat was probably a little bit faster just being a little bit heavier and the section shapes on the foils but this one is obviously very, very, manoeuvrable and much easier to sail in the lighter conditions and even when we get up-range the boat feels  more forgiving and more of an all-rounder than the old Patriot.”

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Alinghi Red Bull Racing completed the quintet of AC75s out on the water today although today was a promotional day for the team with helicopters and camera crews around so no recon of their day other than dockside where modifications to the starboard foil could be observed (see report below). David Beckham, the football superstar, was in town today on brand promotional duties and visited the team’s base later in the day after the boat was back in the shed – Arnaud Psarofaghis & Nicholas Charbonnier were photographed with the footbal legend.

© Samo Vidic

Barcelona served up its best today and it was alive with the Challengers of the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup all pushing hard with less than 80 days to go before the battle of the ages commences. Stay tuned. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Orient Express Racing Team:  Orient Express Racing Team (OERT) rolled out the boat at 6:30 this morning. As it was the first time that they were stepping the mast they were really careful on the process, and it was not until 9:30 that they managed to crane in the boat.

After checking the different flight systems at the dock, OERT docked-out for a tow session where, according to the head of design Benjamin Muyl (interviewed at the end of the day) they wanted to verify that the different systems for the flaps and cants were working properly, and they could achieve some smooth first flights before going into a full sailing foiling session in the following days.

They completed a towing foiling session of around 45 effective minutes with a SW wind that rose from 11-14 knots to 19-22 knots by the end of the session.

Happy with what they achieved with the towing session they got back to the base at 13:20 and after having lunch they docked-out again to hoist some sails inside the harbour: one mainsail and two jibs (J2 and J3). The mainsail is quite similar to what we think is the M1 from ENTZ and also it was observed that in the luff area there is an area with an arc shape that has a more flexible material than the rest of the sail. After the three sails were hoisted and checked OERT docked in for second time at 17:20.

Next possible sailing day for OERT team will be on the Thursday 6th of June. Jose Luis Piñana – OERT AC Recon

On-Water Recon Report – INEOS Britannia: INEOS Britannia rolled out their AC75 at 09:00. At 09:36 it was craned to the water and the team docked out at 11:00, 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 J3-1 to start. Both sails were hoisted just before heading out of the port at 11:25.

A rigid solid jib halyard that connects the head of the jib with the soft halyard close to up in the mast was observed since June 1st, our first day recon’ing this team with their new AC75. This is something that we have not seen so far in other teams. It is important to mention that there is one of these ones per jib, of the corresponding length, for the J3 and J4 at least.

Stable south-south-westerly winds prevailed during the session, shifting slightly right towards the afternoon, and staying in between 15 to 18 knots of intensity for most of the day. The training started with a long downwind, sailing mostly on a straight line. Then there was a stop in which the J4-1 came up to replace the J3-1 in a quickly building breeze. The training was resumed with an upwind-downwind-upwind looking for maximum VMG in which the British boat seemed well balanced, fast and with a lot of stability on the manoeuvres.

At 12:35 there was a long break in which the boat remained stopped, head to wind for forty minutes. At this point we thought the team could be facing some kind of issues, however, the boat remained with no chase boat aside and no apparent physical assistance coming onboard. Finally, at 13:10 the session was resumed.

An additional upwind-downwind-upwind-downwind was carried out, engaging in some crossings with American Magic on the last downwind, and then continuing with a further up-down. At 14:05 there twenty-five-minute break in which there was a cyclors´ rotation.

At 14:30 the training continued. For the rest of the day, INEOS Britannia did some upwind-downwind laps, executing four tacks and three gybes per leg, on average, respectively; in what appeared to be a virtual racecourse with virtual boundaries and an imaginary top mark. For the leeward gates, the team rounded marks that had been previously laid by another team, which was not making use of them. This was complimented with some ‘eights’ and what appeared to be some pre-start boat handling movements. Boat stability and effectiveness was observed on ‘the moves.’ Two additional short breaks occurred during the rest of the day.

At 16:00 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 16:48. 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 – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli rolled out their AC75, B3, at 11:05, with their original rudder (R03) back in place, while modifications are being planned for the new rudder (R05) which was not working as intended. The yacht was craned in and after an hour of set-up and standard checks, the team docked out at 12:30, hoisting the MN1-7 mainsail and J3-7 jib in the port.

Sailing commenced at 12:55, with a warm-up downwind to the Forum then back upwind, and with wind increasing, the J3 was imminently exchanged for the J4-3, as gusts were measured up to 20 knots. The yacht was sailed for two long stretches on each tack, practicing round-ups and bear-aways. A lack of tension in the leeward shrouds was noted, but they were not vibrating heavily. Following this stint, tech crew were observed onboard and below deck, working on the jib system.

The team set off again but stopped after just a couple of minutes sailing to attend to an issue at the mast base, specifically a broken plastic piece in the Cunningham system, which took 40 minutes to resolve. Sailing resumed and the team repeated transitions between high and low modes upwind, then practicing single board bear-aways to two board round-ups. A starting/leeward gate was set, as pre-start practice versus the chase boat began, as the yacht continued upwind alone to a virtual windward gate and back down to leeward.

With wind slightly decreasing at 15:45, the J4 was exchanged back to the J3, with a cyclor rotation carried out, and Francesco Bruni also swapping out for Marco Gradoni on the port helm. The team then began upwind tacking drills, before joining up with American Magic for a long downwind gybing battle. LRPP started ahead, but after two tacks, AM took the lead and maintained a gap for the following four crosses down to Badalona. Both yachts rounded up to engage in upwind split tacks, with LRPP starting ahead. The gap was closed after a few tacks and once level, the lead was exchanged back and forth. After 4.5 NM upwind, both yachts peeled off and separated.

The team finished off the day with more pre-start practice, starting on both tacks at each end of the line. The last start continued into two laps of the course (virtual upwind gate), concluding with a JK manoeuvre (touch down) around the last leeward gate. Sails were dropped by 17:15 to end the day, as they were the last team on the water. After five hours on the water, the team docked in at 17:30, with 143 minutes of active sailing and 66 manoeuvres observed (97% fully foiling). Justin Busuttil – AC Recon

On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: NYYC American Magic made the most of some scintillating sailing conditions in Barcelona for their second sailing session this week – spending five action packed hours on the water and clocking up more than 60 nautical miles of foiling in winds ranging from nine to 16 knots.

The American team rolled out at 0900 and had the boat rigged and on the water by 0930 ahead of an 1100 dock-out. Sails (M1-2 mainsail and J2-1 headsail) were hoisted by 1115 inside the harbour.

The boat was up and foiling almost immediately after leaving the harbour at 1120 with the crew completing two long fast free-sailing laps before switching to some course-based race practice with four windward / leeward sessions completed.

With all five Challenger teams from this cycle of the America’s Cup out on the water for the first time ever (albeit that the French Orient Express Racing Team were tow testing) later in the day there were several opportunities to cross tacks and gybes with both the British INEOS Britannia and Italian Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli crews during the afternoon. From the recon boat it was difficult to detect any obvious performance differences as the boats criss-crossed upwind and downwind.

Throughout the day, the American boat looked to be sailing fast and stable with just a couple of touchdowns (none through manoeuvres) observed.

Time was called at 1615 with the boat sailing into the harbour to drop sails before docking in at 1640. No sailing is scheduled for tomorrow Wednesday June 5.

On-Dock Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: The Swiss rolled out their B3 boat at 7:35 for a planned promotional shooting day on the water involving helicopters, camera crews on the yard etc. Modifications on the starboard foil were detected on the arm stock where the bulgy fairing on the leading edge was removed. Port appendage and tips set-up seemed to be unchanged compared to previous set-up and declaration. The yacht was craned in at 8:00 allowing the team to run the usual dock checks such as FCS, rudder and sail controls. The mast was rotated several times sequentially from centre to port and to starboard while one technician cycled for 10-15 seconds. Without having loaded sails on the chase boats, the team docked out at 9:30 for approximately 30 minutes of towing. At 10:15 the team was back at the base picking up sails, from shore and it looked like mainsail M2-1 was hoisted with the J2 and the team headed out of the harbour. The recon did not cover the team’s training day on the water. Alinghi Red Bull Racing docked in at 16:00 and boat was craned out, further sailing day is planned for tomorrow. Michele Melis AC Recon

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