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HomeRegattaAmerica's CupBarcelona Summer Brings Optimal Conditions for America's Cup Challengers

Barcelona Summer Brings Optimal Conditions for America’s Cup Challengers

Early summer in Barcelona and the weather conditions are just off the scale for the five resident Challenger teams of the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup in the Port Vell who have enjoyed an absolutely stellar period that has afforded them maximum time on the water. Today, very different conditions with an east-north-easterly filtering in that just built and built to deliver 10-16 knots but a challenging sea state that was better on the foils than in the Chase Boats.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Remarkably after their flash crash yesterday on the way back into the harbour on the very last leg of the day, NYYC American Magic were back in action like nothing had happened. The broken fairing on the jib track was repaired overnight and no residual damage caused from taking on so much water after the nosedive. Impressive work from the shore team and all credit to them.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

The sailors today opted for what they call a ‘diamond drill’ going on long straight lines and with cameras on the foils, clearly today was demarked as an analysts’ session. It wasn’t without drama however, the recon team noted a crash off the foils post a gybe and what looked like more fairing damage that brought the day to an end but in conversation afterwards, Anderson Reggio confirmed the issue saying: “I don’t think we broke any of the fairings on board there, no we just had a little trip up and the guys were worried about a little something with the rudder but I don’t think it’s anything really significant so it was just out of an abundance of caution after yesterday to just call it and say, “we’re done,” we got what we needed out of it today.”

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Asked whether the shore team pulled an all-nighter to get Patriot back on the water today, Anderson commented: “No actually it wasn’t…we filled it up with water sure but it was fortunately in areas where there wasn’t much to worry about, you guys saw us get the crash pump out yesterday which brought back flashbacks for some of us to Auckland, but we were just sucking a lot of water out of out of an area in the bow that just doesn’t have anything we need to worry about in there so pretty easy to get back on the water today.”

A relatively short session by their standards, NYYC American Magic having docked-out at 1.30pm were back on the dock by 5.30pm and will be back in action on Monday, weather permitting.

After an eye-catching maiden sail yesterday late in the afternoon, Orient Express Racing Team were seriously on-it today with an on-time dock-out and everyone super-keen to get thoroughly stuck into the commissioning process. Boy, they didn’t disappoint today, pushing the boat to speeds up to 40 knots and looking so balanced that the recon team asked whether they were using auto-pilot! (The answer was a resounding “no.”)

© ©Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

But what is the secret to this out-of-the-box performance? Well, the team have spent a long time in the simulator, locked away and developing their skills. It showed on the water today and Jason Saunders, the port-side trimmer confirmed saying: “We did a lot of time in the simulator, obviously we didn’t have the boat so we were spending time indoors, and there’s a lot of things that are very similar and it certainly allowed us to test a lot of functions as well, which meant the commissioning period was a lot more effective so great job for the guys in the shore team, they managed to get us prepared for sailing and I think it helped.”

© ©Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

Jason spoke about the day, clearly animated with this exciting phase for the team saying; “We’re still in the commissioning phase so there was some requests from the HOD’s (Heads of Departments) in our team, so there was plenty to do and work through, loading up the boat slowly; we didn’t manage to test everything yesterday so still a bit more of that and then time permitting we were able to do some manoeuvres and some good straight line segments.”

Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Getting to grips with the hyper-tweaky AC75 is a tall order and Jason gave an insight saying: “It’s incredible really, I mean you can adjust so many things in this boat, the question is often deciding who’s doing what because I mean there are just so many things you can adjust and the team have done such a good job to give us a boat where we can really work and really optimise it so now it’s up to us to spend the time and to go through all the data, a lot of work to do just from the last sailing couple days so it’s pretty exciting.”

Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Alinghi Red Bull Racing continued their two-boat training with Dean Barker and Phil Robertson again back in the AC40 for some great pre-start action once again. When the team docked-out, we saw the new J1 in the lighter breeze, clearly a sail that the Swiss are keen to get time on but very quickly after some straight-lining they were switching down to the J2 and eventually the J3. A downwind cross with Luna Rossa certainly showed that BoatOne is very quick but once again the most remarkable reveal was in the starting-box with the AC40.

Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

BoatOne comes alive in the tight circling, with the sailors absolutely on point with the overall control of the boat and they proved it again today. Brilliant, outstanding sailing and something that every team is going to be poring over – particularly the speed build out of very tight manoeuvres. Nicolas Rolaz, a key member of the Driving Group who was on trim again today, certainly feels it positively, saying: “The AC40 is able to turn very quick so for us it’s a big challenge to make our ‘big bus’ turn as fast as the 40, but I mean overall very good feelings and we are surprised about how the boat behaves, I mean you’ve seen it ,the boat is going good in those pre-starts, it’s so good to sail with it.”

Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Talking about relative speeds with the other Challengers, Nico was again positive saying: “I think we’re in the ball-park, the whole team is looking strong, every day we spend out there we’re sharpening our tools and today we had a chance to do a cross with Luna Rossa and seems like we had a good little downwind there, I mean it’s very hard to say anything.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Great, high octane session again from Alinghi Red Bull raci ng who are eyeing more training tomorrow to keep the pressure on and really hone in those pre-start skills. Time-on-the-water and a wonderfully manoeuvrable AC75 that looks light, nimble, keen and rapier fast on acceleration is really giving the team a lot of confidence at the moment.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli docked-out just after midday and on the hoist of the mainsail revealed a new, lighter-weather design with added depth and initially as the team exited the harbour, the big J1-7 was set in the 6-9 knots of recorded wind. It was a lull for sure and the team headed off upwind to Badalona, engaging with Alinghi Red Bull Racing at times in the opening stint. With the wind increasing, the Italians dropped down to a J2 and then went in for some pre-start and race practice, using the Chase Boat as competition as we have seen in recent days. The team halted their session at 3.50pm with an unconfirmed issue.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Speaking afterwards, Umberto Molineris spoke eloquently about the day and the new mainsail saying: “Yes a different scenario today, we started today with the light wind, tricky conditions then the wind picked up pretty quick and then we had 10-12 knot with shifty breeze, and yeah with a bit of chop and so really interesting day, tricky condition to sail and very  interesting…Today we carried our second mainsail, it’s a little different obviously when we try a  different kind of main, a different set-up and yeah I think as a first day we’re really happy and let’s see the next days… it’s a bit more powerful mainsail but I think we were trying to  take whatever we can with all the controls.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

The recon team observed very slack shrouds on the leeward side today and Umberto commented: “You know different main and loading the mast in a different way bending, side-bend, and we were also playing with a different rig tune and…for sure the leeward shrouds were bit more loose but yeah we are also playing with different damper for the vibration of the shrouds.”

© ©Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

A different day but another beauty in Barcelona. The Challengers are certainly benefitting from these outstanding days on the water that could be the key to one of the closest fought Louis Vuitton Cup’s in living memory. Too early to call an outright favourite and a case can be made for each. This is going to be a brilliant, classic, memorable Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup. Hang tight. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out BoatOne at 10:00, the mast was stepped and the yacht was craned in at 10:20 to proceed with the usual dock checks. Dock-out was scheduled for 13:00 for the sparring AC40 and for BoatOne.

Expecting lighter airs compared to previous days, the M1-1 was hoisted and the yacht was towed out of the harbour. When the light sea-breeze filled in at 12:30,  6-8 knots from 70° were measured with 0.5-0.8m swell from 90°. The newest J1-1 was hoisted revealing an interesting cloth on the leading edge, side on shots were taken.

After a self-take off, this time with the windward board entirely lifted, B2 was foilborne and began its first foiling stint, drilling series of tacks, bearing-away and practiced gybe sequences. The breeze increased to 9.5-11.5kn from 55° and hence the J1-1 was lowered to hoist what seemed to be the J2-1. Another stint was then sailed with this sail plan executing manoeuvres in series, mostly foil-to-foil with some rare touch & go’s.

The team decelerated again as the sea-breeze was increasing further, J2-1 was lowered and J3-1 was hoisted, with 11.5-13.5 knots from 45-50°. The third stint unfolded similar to the first two including manoeuvre execution before BoatOne headed to the laid out gates and the focus was switched onto pre-start drills.

With the AC40 still in displacement for crew switches between Youth & Women and sparring crew members, BoatOne was observed practicing full circles entering on port. A quick break followed after the first pre-start drill. Similar tactical routines were observed between each of the 6 drills practiced by the team. BoatOne had port entry on the first three, entering on a minute and 15 seconds and starting on a +2 minutes and + 10 seconds.

When the last drill unfolded, both boats sailed a while upwind before BoatOne bore-away and extended the last downwind leg decelerating into the harbour. Sails were lowered at 16:10 and the day was called with 132 minutes of foilborne sailing, 46 tacks, 37 gybes. Michele Melis AC Recon.

On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli rolled out their AC75, B3, at 10:55, an hour earlier than planned due to the change in forecast, with wind from the Northeast filling in just after midday, amidst a residual swell from the Mistral offshore. It was noted that the weights on the port shrouds were lowered. A new mainsail was prepared on deck, with a bigger and more powerful cut for lighter winds. The team docked out at 12:15 with the new main along with the J1-7 jib.

Six to nine knots of wind were recorded just before the team set sail at 12:45. Foiling was initially a struggle in the wind lull, with the yacht not able to complete their first tack on foil, but after sailing upwind towards Badalona, the team found the breeze and completed six fully foiling manoeuvres, including two crossings downwind with Alinghi Red Bull Racing. The J1 was replaced with the J2-7 after the first stint as the wind continued to build.

The course was set and a lap was sailed, before moving into round up and bearaway practice. Two separate, one-lap runs of the course were sailed versus the chase boat, to a virtual windward mark far to the right of the original set gate, due to the fairly high variation in wind strength and direction throughout the sailing day. Cyclors were rotated at 15:00, as well as a helm swap, seeing Marco Gradoni step back into the port helm in place of Francesco Bruni.

The final stint began with an upwind/downwind, dropping and raising windward boards, followed by sailing with two boards down, and finally one lap of the course versus the chase boat.

The team came to a stop at 15:50 with a seeming issue onboard and dropped sails by 16:10 to end the day. The yacht was back at the dock by 16:30, after just over four hours on the water and 125 minutes of active sailing. 63 manoeuvres were observed, of which just one tack was touch and go.

On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: NYYC American Magic bounced back from the previous day’s damaging nosedive that swamped the boat and caused a near capsize with damage to foredeck fairings with a quick turnaround that saw the American team back on the water today for a three-hour afternoon session.

After rolling out shortly before 1130, the team had the US AC75 rigged and in the water by midday ahead of a 1400 dock-out. Sails (M2-1 mainsail and J2-1 headsail) were hoisted inside the harbour by 1415, with the team out of the harbour and immediately up on foils by 1427 in 12-13 knots of breeze and on a nastily choppy sea state.

It quickly became clear that testing / data gathering was the main priority for the day with the crew sailing upwind on a long, long starboard tack (some of which appeared to be sailed a little off the wind at speeds up to 35 knots), before tacking and doing the same on port.

The boat came to a stop at 1452 at a point just over seven nautical miles offshore. Technicians with laptops were observed going aboard the yacht.

The stop lasted 15 minutes before the boat set off again upwind on port for around five minutes before bearing off onto a fast angle (not VMG) for a long downwind blast. A gybe at the end of this leg saw the crew complete a huge diamond pattern.

Some free windward / leeward sailing followed with a few round up and bear-aways thrown in too before the boat came to a stop at 1540 for a 10 minute break.

A practice start and three legs of a two lap windward / leeward practice race was followed by 15-minute a stop at 1610 for a cyclor change.

The final stint of the day was a 20 upwind / downwind session with minimal manoeuvres that ended at 1647 with a splashdown a few seconds after a gybe in 12-15 knots of breeze. Sails were dropped by 1700 and the boat was towed home on foils to arrive at the dock by 1721. No sailing is scheduled over the weekend Saturday / Sunday June 8 / 9.

On-Water Recon Report – Orient Express Racing Team: Orient Express Racing Team craned in their AC75 at 9:00 am this morning. After several checks from the onshore team on the aero and flight systems and controls, the boat docked out at 12:15 and paired their M2-1 main sail with a J2 jib. The wind was quite light from a NE direction when they sailed out from the harbour ,and started rising quickly ending in some solid 14 knots at around 13:30. Sea state started to build up pretty quickly as well. OERT swapped the J2 for the J3 and just when they were going to start sailing, they decide to swap J3 for the J4.

Finally, at around 13:45 they started sailing and they went for long straight lines upwind, reaching and downwind. They flew the boat as close as possible to the water, managing to lock her upwind from the beginning of the session, with speeds around 31 knots. They seem to be quite confident with their boat control and stability in the straight lines as they pushed the boat in the reaching course scoring speeds on the higher 40’s before bearing-away into the downwind where they seemed to be with the boat quite locked by the end of the session, sailing at speeds in between 36 to 40 knots.

They did a full swap of cyclors after about 60 affective minutes of sailing, moment at which they decided also to change the jib from J4 to J3.

The two times that the boat stopped, some technicians jumped onboard to check the aero systems and always put special attention in the mainsheet system. They did around 5 tacks, all of them fully foiling and around 7 gybes, which were in between touching down and ‘touch & go’ in the beginning and carefully fully foiling by the end of the session.

OERT dropped the sails at 16:25 and dock in at 17:30 after solving some problems they experienced when dropping the mainsail.

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