Monday, July 15, 2024
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Emirates Team New Zealand Wraps Up Winter Training While Challengers Face Mixed Conditions in Barcelona

Emirates Team New Zealand called time on their winter training down in Auckland today with some of the finest race training footage seen to date in top end conditions that puffed up to 25 knots that had the two AC40s absolutely at the limit. In Barcelona it was a more benign affair with late dock-outs for Orient Express Racing Team, INEOS Britannia and NYYC American Magic as rain cells and wide isobars sat over a converging north/south weather pattern.

The story of the day though was in Auckland with Peter Burling and Nathan Outteridge being, once again, pushed hard in a series of pre-starts by the ‘test’ team of Josh Junior and Sam Meech with some harem-scarem moves in the final approaches. Accuracy was everything in this strictly non-contact arena but even the most laid-back Kiwi yachtie would admit that at times, this was close.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Pete Burling alluded as such saying: “We’ve been trying different bits and pieces, obviously these boats are incredibly manoeuvrable, so you’ve got to try and choose the right thing at the right time and then as a team we got to figure out how that relates actually to the big boat, so yeah it’s been a really valuable block just trying to lay a good foundation for when we get to Barcelona.”

All eyes are now on that move up to Europe with a first scheduled day pencilled in for the beginning of July and clearly the team have been monitoring the considerable progress of the Challenger teams over the past few weeks with Pete adding: “Now is really the time to make sure we tried out everything back here, have a little bit of time off so we’re ready to hit the ground running in Barcelona, and it’s getting to that exciting part of the campaign, you start to see all the other the teams really hit their stride in the AC75s. I feel like we were quite a way ahead when we launched and with the push we did through that point but we’re definitely itching get back in the AC75 now.”

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

This intense period has certainly been both a profitable time on and off the water for the Defenders as Pete said: “We’re looking forward to getting into it pretty soon after we all get up…so yeah it’s coming around pretty quick but you know it’s been a whole heap of hard work back here trying to get through a big development list after our block of AC75 sailing in NZ, so really excited to launch with a good ‘ref 2’ on a few parts.” Next stop Barcelona for this impressive team.

Speaking of which, it wasn’t the greatest day weather-wise up in Europe with the morning a virtual wash-out and then a long wait for the wind to fill in behind the rain cells. Eventually a fluky, flaky 5-8 knots came in and for the French, Americans and British it was back to business.

© ©Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

NYYC American Magic headed out just after 1pm and sat outside the entrance, determined to get the new breeze when it eventually materialised. With a J1 jib up and the biggest mainsail (both sails detailed with outlines of where potential window panels could be located), it was a session of pressure-hunting and maintaining flight which they did for around 50 minutes of totally free sailing upwind and downwind.


Perhaps the most telling part of the session was an unofficial ‘opposite-tacks’ upwind leg with INEOS Britannia that the Americans came out on top of. They’ll take that especially with one tack being a touchdown. Speaking afterwards, Michael Menninger who surely has to be in pole position to take a seat on the raceboat, spoke to the recon team saying: “We left the dock unsure if we could get some sailing and we just want to get out there in the light and yeah we didn’t sail yesterday so we just wanted to get out in the water and test a few things…mainly just wanted to get out in the light breeze with a little bit of left-over chop, we haven’t really gotten a lot of lighter days last couple weeks in Barcelona so it’s really just about getting that 5-8 knot range.”

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Asked what can be obtained from a light weather day in terms of trim, Michael answered: “I think it’s just trying to manage the correct amount of power that we need to have in the sails to keep the heel under control, and the boat out of the water, and there’s definitely a balancing game with when you want power, when to shed power, and kind of trying to play around with the boatspeed to see what you need at the time.”

© ©Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

The side-by-side arrangement for the trimmers is clearly still something that the sailors are getting used to with Michael saying: “We’re definitely getting used to it our field of vision has narrowed a little bit so I think I think we’re just you know building some familiarity with the boat and our limited vision but it’s not holding us back.”


Sailing on the same stretch of water as NYYC American Magic and looking like two genteel grand dames at a society party, was INEOS Britannia who were in to full test mode down at the lowest possible end of the wind range. Running with Pitot tubes on the bulbs and today with two added, enormous, cameras on the wings, plus the legacy AC36 rudder that was back onboard, it was clear that today was more about analysis than performance, working on cross-overs and seeing how the boat went in the light. With a smidge of windward heel, the end-plate effect looked efficient as always but a slight bobbing upwind would perhaps indicate disturbance from the cameras and the imbalance on the rudder.

Speaking afterwards in an absolute downpour, Leigh McMillan gave a typically super interview and summed up the day saying: “Today with the rain and not a lot of wind forecast, a bit of sea state, pretty messy out there, it was a bit of a different day but still worthwhile getting out, just searching for a bit of breeze working on the bottom end of the wind racing spectrum so yeah still a good day…but we still achieved what we needed to today.”


Sailing with the legacy rudder back onboard as the INEOS Britannia technicians continue to hone and refine this crucial part of the overall hydro package, Leigh updated on what the team are working on, saying: “A few little tweaks…just some real minor tweaks going on there, just getting kind of the feel of the rudder slightly different, but again making good progress on that as well and quite a tricky day in the sea state for being on the legacy rudder, couple of times getting close on the immersion on the rudder in that sea state, but it’s good to chop between the two  we’re learning a lot from jumping backwards and forwards between the two rudders…the new rudder’s quite a lot quicker and in terms of overall performance and we’re kind of homing in on those details.”


Overall though, and despite the horrendous conditions, Leigh gave an upbeat assessment of where the British boat is in terms of speed, saying: “I think it is good, I think we still got more gains to come. I think we’re overall feeling pretty positive about everything on the boat on the whole and knowing we’ve still got a lot of things to kind of tidy up and to improve as well…but as we work closer to the summer it’s going to be really exciting to see how that will come together.”

© ©Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

For Orient Express Racing Team it was a rather different set-up with the French going for a J3 jib initially before switching to a J2 – perhaps the J1 is still in build? But the team eventually got some foiling time heading out offshore and away from the shifting inshore breeze (the wind started in the south-east and eventually ended up in the north-west). 

© ©Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

For the French it is still early commissioning days and despite the light winds this was a valuable day on the water. They executed an upwind and downwind plus a couple of reaches and the recon teams observed them playing with different modes and orientations but  felt that they “didn’t look as locked-in as the last sailing session.”  

Timothé Lapauw, one of the Orient Express Racing Team cyclors put it in perspective when talking about the day and just being on the water going through the routines when he spoke to the recon team after sailing: “It was quite a rainy day obviously…and was not super windy, but we managed to have good phases. It’s still a long process for us going on the water and hoisting the sail and stuff like that so it’s still quite interesting for us to repeat all these process anyway, if we didn’t sail quite a lot it was still really interesting and we managed to have a really good spot of wind today, so pretty cool.”

© ©Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli called a shore day this afternoon having looked at the forecast but are eyeing sailing again tomorrow although, again, the slow-moving weather system doesn’t look promising. From champagne to rain – springtime in Barcelona was ever thus. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: Today we joined ETNZ on the water for the final day of sailing in Auckland for LEQ 12. Wrapping up operations in NZ before heading up to Barcelona to join the rest of the teams.

Heading out on the water to meet AC40 OD who had been out with the Youth and Women’s team, LEQ 12 towed down to the ‘Back Paddock’ and got quickly into rigging and warming up sailing.

In some top end conditions at times gusting into the mid to high 20’s, the teams got into some proper full force starts. You could see they were really pushing the limits during the starts today. High risk high reward situations unfolding. One that stood out was during some fast pushing back getting closer to pin layline the following boat managed to complete a fast and very close swing behind the leading boat and got the hook forcing the leading boat to tack. While this is a standard match racing situation the speed the teams are completing these manoeuvres and are making decisions is astonishing.

Completing a set of four rolling pre-starts with a lap after the last start the teams stopped for a break. Putting some of the Youth and Women’s crew back onboard the AC40 OD. They rolled into some pre-start and practice fleet races. Impressive to see the Youth and Women go up against the ‘A Team’ and have some close racing around the virtual track. 

That concludes Emirates Team New Zealand’s sailing in New Zealand for this Cup cycle as the team finishes up moving the operation north.

On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: After cancelling sailing the previous day for lack of wind NYYC American Magic took a chance on a sketchy forecast today as a huge rain cell swept over the waters off Barcelona making the odds long on the likelihood of any sailable winds materialising.

However, the American sailors were rewarded for their efforts with a patchy 7-10 knot breeze and a light chop for a three-hour afternoon session. The team rolled their latest generation AC75 Patriot at 1050 and had it rigged and launched by 1120 ahead of a dock-out time of 1303. With low cloud and a forecast of light winds and rain for the afternoon it is fair to say that expectations were not high for any meaningful breeze.

Nevertheless, having exited the harbour on a bow tow at 1315 Patriot was towed on foils for 10 minutes at 25 knots at a northeasterly bearing to a sail hoisting point around three miles offshore. Sails (M1-1 mainsail and J1-1) were hoisted by 1345 but with the breeze at just five to six knots the sailors had to wait another 15 minutes for a new breeze front to materialise with seven knots of pressure.

Other than a brief rolling stop to make an adjustment to the aft end of the mainsail the boat was in the air for around 50 minutes of windward leeward free sailing, finishing with a short opposite-tack upwind stint. The Americans came out ahead – despite a touchdown tack – but the boats were so far separated that at one point they were clearly sailing in different bands of breeze. More windward / leeward free sailing followed in increasingly heavy rain and decreasing visibility.

At times throughout the day the sailors had to hunt to stay in enough breeze to keep foiling. Accordingly, there were a number of touchdown or touch-and-go manoeuvres, but the rest looked largely crisp and stable.

Time was called at 1335 with sails dropped well offshore before a long foiling tow back to the dock by 1610.

On-Water Recon Report – Orient Express Racing Team: Orient Express Racing Team craned in their AC75 at 9:15 am this morning. Several checks from the onshore team on the aero and flight systems and controls were done before the dock-out. We could see again the linkage between mast rotation and the mainsheet system coordinated in both short and large movements. As well some coordinated moves between the mast and canting arms were seen (looking like a tack pre-set). The boat docked out at 12:40 and paired the M2-1 mainsail with a J3 jib (they finished hoisting at 13:25). There was no wind the moment they came out from the harbour but around 13:10 a rain cloud came and brought some wind from the south-east of about 8-10 knots. They had to do some additional checks on the systems before start sailing, but finally at 13:55 they lifted the windward arm and started foiling.

They did two long upwind tacks, one short upwind tack, one short port side reach and a long port side downwind gybe with two tacks (one touch & go and one fully landed) and one fully-landed gybe.

From the chase boat the AC75 didn’t look as locked-in as the last sailing session but we felt that OERT were trying different modes of sailing at every tack.  

After 40 minutes of effective sailing, they stopped and changed the jib from J3 to J2 as the wind had dropped a little bit 6-8 knots TWD 90º @ 15:15 and they did also a swap of cyclors (just 3 of them).

One of the main chase boats went back to the base and came back with some spare equipment. According to the interview with Timothé Lapauw they had a small leak from one of the hydraulic systems that they had to fix.

At 15:50 they started sailing again but after a short time foiling, they had to stop to make a swap of batteries. The weather become more and more rainy, and the wind dropped so around 17:10 OERT team decided to call the sailing session and tow their AC75 back to the base. Dock in was done at 17:30. Jose Luis Piñana – OERT AC Recon

On-Water Recon Report – INEOS Britannia: INEOS Britannia rolled out their AC75 at 08:45, with the legacy rudder on and with cameras added on top of both foil wings. In addition, the LiDAR and Go-Pros continue to be placed on both rails just ahead of the jib track.

After stepping the mast and standing-by for some time due to uncertain weather conditions, Britannia was finally craned in at 10:50. Once on the water, multiple tests were executed with technicians sitting in the trimmer’s pods, moving both arms up and down multiple times, with additional shore-team members looking carefully from the dock, standing perpendicular to the boat at the arms positions. The team finally docked-out at 13:30 as originally planned.

The MN1-1 of bigger sail area and wider top section than the MN2-1 was selected for today’s session, combined with the J1-1. Both sails were hoisted once out of the harbour.

Very light, variable and unstable southeasterly winds dominated the day, under grey and rainy skies, combined with an uncomfortable increasing swell from the SE.

The training consisted mostly of sailing on a straight line in bottom-end wind conditions, dealing with unstable winds, forcing the sailors to adapt continuously to the changes on wind strength and wave angles caused as a consequence of the frequent wind shifts.

The session started at 14:10 with Britannia trying to take-off in marginal bottom-end wind conditions with luck of success on both tacks for the first ten minutes. Then the wind increased slightly, and sailing began.

One long upwind and a short downwind were executed for the first forty minutes combined with a few tacks and gybes. In general terms, the boat performance in light breeze with these sails´ configuration seems pretty good, being able to take-off easily and to achieve foiling manoeuvres.

During a part of the upwind, NYYC American Magic was in the picture. However, the distance in between both boats was so big that for most of the time both boats sailed with different winds, not being able to make any reliable comments on comparative performance.  

At 15:00 there was a ten-minute break and then sailing was resumed with an additional upwind. By 15:30 the wind had died, and INEOS Britannia took advantage of the transition to make a cyclors rotation. After the twenty-minute forced break, there was a towing take-off and then sailing was resumed sailing on port tack heading off-shore where slightly better wind conditions were found.  

By 16:10 the wind had increased considerably to approximately 10 knots, shifting from 120 SE to 40 NE, and the team decided to proceed to drop the J1-1 and hoist the J2-1.

For the following forty minutes INEOS Britannia did some extra straight lines both upwind and downwind in very unstable conditions, with the rain getting more intense and visibility decreasing.

At 17:00 the British team decided to end the session and got on the tow. The AC75 entered the harbour on the tow at 17:18, lowered both sails and docked at 17:40. Thirty minutes later, it got craned out of the water indicating the end of a wet and unstable day. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on INEOS Britannia

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