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Formula 1 Meets America’s Cup: High-Octane Worlds Collide in Barcelona

With the Barcelona Formula 1™ Grand Prix in town this weekend, the various alliances between the teams and the Challengers for the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup, were much in evidence. Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and Toto Wolff from the Mercedes Petronas AMG F1 team were on the water with INEOS Britannia, Daniel Ricciardo visited Alinghi Red Bull Racing, whilst Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon from the Renault Alpine F1 team joined Orient Express Racing Team for their session. Two high octane worlds colliding on a busy day in Barcelona.

All five Challengers were on the water today, making the most of a light weather day similar to the sort of conditions expected in September and October with a sloppy sea state of 0.9-1.4 metres at 5 second period and a shifty easterly breeze that varied between 3-11 knots. Tough conditions but impressive to see the AC75s easily taking off with the longer foils, lighter overall set-up (all-up weight at 6.2 tons and only 8 crew), and setting the big J1 jibs.

Orient Express Racing Team was one of the first to dock-out into almost zero wind and once again the team elected, perhaps through not having an alternative, to set the J2-1 jib which meant for the first hour they struggled to take off. However once the breeze built, the French enjoyed one of their most productive days on the water so far with some great manoeuvres and rock-solid flight being achieved.

The legendary Franck Cammas who is co-ordinating performance for Orient Express described the day saying: “The objective today was to continue the commissioning of the boat so we worked a lot on the tuning of the systems and we have still some issues but we improve to use well boat and at the end we finished the day very well, I think it was the best day for us from the last 10 days and we are happy with how we finished the week.”

With around two months left to run before the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup, it’s going to be a busy time for the French team as Franck continued: “Two months is never enough time, we have to use it with the more most efficiency and I think we can start to think about the performance after next week and this is good and we are confident with the boat and the feeling is  good when we can use it well, it is not always the case but when we can use it, it’s very nice.”

And the focus is clear in Franck’s mind: “The focus for the team is the boat handling first for sure, as usual the boat handling is very linked with the reliability of the system and the power portal. I think first we have to understand very well how to tune with the power guys, and the power system to use well the boat because after that I think the sailors have a very good way to use the boat because we learned a lot with the simulator, and I think they are they are good on that, but for now they cannot do what they want to do all the time.”

A good session for the French, they have now concluded their week and will be back next week.

After re-launching their AC75 yesterday after the horror mast failure last week, Alinghi Red Bull Racing elected to give the shore team some time to effect repairs and kept BoatOne in the shed today, launching instead their two identical AC40s for some great two-boat race practise. Being such a versatile boat, the AC40 is proving to be a go-to for the teams to really hone their race-craft and keep their eye in.

Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

The focus today was clearly on pre-starts, an area where Alinghi Red Bull Racing will be looking to capitalise on with their highly manoeuvrable BoatOne AC75 when the racing starts. Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin joined forces on the Red Boat whilst Jason Waterhouse and Nicolas Charbonnier took controls of the Black boat and in marginal conditions it was a game of trying to get the other off the foils. Honours were shared pretty much evenly between the two boats over three starts.

© Job Vermeulen © America’s Cup

The drama of the day however was on the final race of the day when the Charbonnier/Waterhouse boat struck a UFO in the water, and according to the on-water recon team, ‘broached out of the water. The hydraulic stopped working and the yacht had to be towed back to harbour in displacement.’

Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

Nicolas Charbonnier confirmed the prang saying: “The day was beautiful, we had the first part of the day with some guests onboard who had the chance to drive the boat so was a good experience probably for them, and then we went into some match-racing starts and went  well but it turned out to be quite short because we hit a  piece of wood in the water, so it’s part of the game and it’s okay.”

© Job Vermeulen © America’s Cup

Asked about the inherent value of training in the AC40, Nico commented: “I mean it’s just working on the different aspects of the regatta, for us it’s just about how to put the boat into the box, and the timing to come back and communication onboard with the crew, the autopilot makes everything a bit more easier but the outcome of the sailing is the same, you just need to take a start and to place yourself compared to the opponent.” Alinghi Red Bull Racing will be back in their AC75 on Thursday.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

For NYYC American Magic it was a busy five hours on the water that started with a tow to find the wind out to towards the Port Olímpic and then go into a series of pre-starts where the on-water recon team reported some real stability in flight and a lot of confidence with two boards down for ultra manoeuvrability.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Terry Hutchinson described the day perfectly saying: “We went off the dock I think we were expecting a little bit more breeze early on in the day, but we got out there, I think we were sails up and on the hook by about 11:20 and did one attempt in about 4.5 / 5 knots to get out of the water and she didn’t want to go in that and so we bow-towed up towards our race course and there was 6-7.5 and so we got into some sailing there which was nice. We know with this race course that when you get into that easterly direction, the starting line is going to be quite tight down on the Olímpic Port and so we set ourselves up in that area, and you do the best job you can and trying to get a feel for the racecourse but it was good to see INEOS, the French and the Italians were all out and it’s fun to see. You can feel the regatta for sure coming at you so in that regard it was really good and we ticked off a little bit of sail crossover and a little bit of just working on the settings of the performance in the boat.” 

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

More to come from the hard-driving Americans with their next scheduled sailing day being Friday this week after a planned maintenance day tomorrow.

© Job Vermeulen © America’s Cup

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli continued their hugely impressive week with another almost demonstration day on the water with a very structured training programme that focussed on pre-starts with the Chase Boat giving the opposition as Jimmy Spithill, Francesco Bruni and Marco Gradoni were put to the test. Another really interesting line-up with INEOS Britannia was observed with some close racing upwind but Luna Rossa pulling away downwind and looking extremely stable in the choppy conditions.

© Job Vermeulen © America’s Cup

Enrico Voltolini, the Finn and Star Class ace, who is a cyclor onboard with input on the Cunningham and jib controls, spoke about the Barcelona conditions and how the team were coping with them: “It’s pretty difficult because we’re seeing this strong sea breeze and in the late summer this is not what we are going to expect so it’s going to change where the  water warms-up a bit and the sea-breeze slows down.”

© Job Vermeulen © America’s Cup

Enrico also gave an insight into the ice jackets the cyclors wear in the heat and was asked to draw a comparison with other cycling disciplines as to what it’s like to be a cyclor on an AC75: “Like to put a bike on top of a washing machine and full 2000 RPM!”


Luna Rossa have a planned maintenance day on Thursday but will be out again on Friday and Saturday.


INEOS Britannia had a really full day on the water punctuated by the arrival of the aforementioned Formula 1 stars who rode on the boat mid-session. Predominantly the work was concentrated on longer runs today, dialling in the ride height and working on the sail cross-overs and settings. On the final upwind of the day, a webbing broke at the top of the headsail causing it to drop immediately to the deck and the team called it a day.


The line-up with Luna Rossa was captured very accurately by on-water recon member and Argentinian Olympic Coach, Sebastian Peri Brusa who gave his expert analysis saying: “In terms of comparative performance, differences were detected while gybing, in the transition in between downwind VMG courses from tack to tack. It seemed easier for LRPP to stay on the foils flying consistently with no need to go much higher for accelerating than downwind VMG course when coming out from the gybes, while in contrast INEOS had to make larger changes of the course to accelerate when exiting the downwind manoeuvres.


Summarising the day, Dylan Fletcher-Scott commented: “A little bit of a different day for us we had some of the Mercedes AMG F1 guys down, we had Lewis George and Toto, it was quite cool and great to get Toto and George a ride on the yacht so yeah it was good to see how much they enjoyed it and get George driving and Toto in the cyclor position.”


Asked about the line-up with Luna Rossa, Dylan reflected: “Okay, I think, probably again like always everyone’s trying to work out things but quite shifty so I think it was okay and I’m sure it will continue.” And asked what the team took away from the encounter: “Not too much, I think we were on the wrong headsail but kind of interesting to see.”


And commenting on the jib head failure, Dylan added: “We were just, you know, pushing the limits and we maybe just went a little bit over but I think we’ll be all good and back out tomorrow with that jib on.”


Another big day in Barcelona for all the Challengers and with the news that the Emirates Team New Zealand AC75 is arriving in Europe very shortly, it will be a busy waterway all the way through to the start of the Third Preliminary Regatta ahead of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Stay tuned. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Orient Express Racing Team: Orient Express Racing Team began their preparation for the day at 07:30, as the yacht was left out on the forecourt overnight with its rig on. After craning in at 08:05, the J4-1 was hoisted, and a member of the shore crew went up the mast to carry out work at the head of the sail. Further work was carried out on deck, specifically on the main track, jib system and mast rotation, with cyclors pumping oil.

The team docked out at 10:20 and hoisted the M2-1 mainsail and J2-1 jib in front of the base. Sailing commenced at 11:00 from the port entrance, under an average of 5-6kn wind speed and rolling residual swell of up to 1.4m, 5s period. The yacht was unable to take off for the first hour until a little more breeze filled in, eventually taking off at 12:10 and sailing a short upwind, before bearing away around American Magic’s windward mark to sail a short downwind.

After setting sail again for 5 minutes, the team encountered issues in the forward starboard cyclor pod, prompting Philippe Echassoux (Systems & Deck Gear) to jump on. The problem was resolved as Alpine F1 drivers, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, joined the scene.

Sailing resumed and the team sailed a long downwind stretch on port, before performing a demonstration, tacking and gybing around the grouped team chase boats. The day was concluded with a short upwind and downwind back to base, as sails were dropped at 14:10.

The yacht was back at the dock by 14:20, after four hours on the water and 66 minutes of active sailing (excluding 40 minutes sailing in displacement). 15 manoeuvres were performed of which 11 were fully foiling. The team packed away their AC75 for the week, as the crew head off to New York for a separate sailing regatta. Justin Busuttil – AC Recon

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: With the AC75 in the shed, Alinghi Red Bull Racing opted for a two boat day rolling out the AC40-4 (Red) and AC40-7 (Black) and craning in respectively at 10:15 and 10:50. AC40-7 was distinguished by AC37 branding along mast and no waterline references on foil arms. Both yachts appeared to be in one-design configuration by then. After standard system checks, dock-out was scheduled for 13:00 and sails were hoisted, similar to OD M1-1 and J1-1s with little differences and modifications. The AC40-7 mainsail was distinguished by a missing red stripe on top.

Once out of the harbour, 7-9 knots from 95° were measured with larger period swell of 1-1.5m 6s from 85°. As the team hosted several guests on this particular day, the first part of the sailing included some runs with the guests helming. Considering the swell magnitude and the light airs, the 40’s appeared to struggle often exiting manoeuvres or recovering from hitting a wave during the whole day.

A first unofficial start was executed without any engaging in the box and a leeward and windward leg followed. Breeze was quite shifty between 110 and 85° between 6-10 knots. At 14:30 the first pre-start drill was observed with red on port entry, both yachts sailed towards to the lower right, trimmed back and white managed to start closer by the pin while black started further down the line.

As the 2nd start unfolded, black entered on starboard and as both yachts were approaching the line, black managed to squeeze red off the foils but ended up being a few seconds early over the line down by the pin.

 For the third start, black had port entry entering again at 14:55:25, and both yachts sailed down to the right, trimmed back simultaneously, red trailing black and both yachts starting clear with a gap in between. After this third drill, the yachts sailed upwind and two lead changes were seen caused by touch downs. Just on the windward gate, black hit a submerged piece of wood and broached out of the water. The hydraulic stopped working and the yacht had to be towed back to harbour in displacement. Red yacht sailed towards the base and sails were lowered at 15:20. Michele Melis AC Recon

On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: NYYC American Magic racked up a five-hour training session in Barcelona today in light and shifty easterly winds and on a light to moderate chop mixed in with a 0.8 metre six second interval swell.

After rolling out at 0850 the American AC75 was rigged and launched by 0920 ahead of a 1057 dock-out. Sails (M2-1 mainsail and J1-1 headsail) were hoisted by 1110. The boat exited the harbour at 1115. After a couple of attempts to get foiling in an unsteady 5-8 knot easterly breeze and the persistently choppy waters immediately off the harbour, the yacht was bow-towed east for 15 minutes at around 25 knots to where the new breeze was more established at around 7-8 knots from 090.

After a short wait the boat set off on the first flight of the day – a thirty minute windward leeward free sailing session. On this flight and throughout the rest of the day it was apparent that there were plenty of holes in the wind across the course area that had the sailors hunting for pressure, particularly downwind.

After a headsail change to the J2-1 the crew focused in on race practice with a series of practice starts, and three windward leeward races. The boat looked particularly comfortable on two boards in the prestart and there were very few moments where it looked like touching down.

On two of the starts, the boat entered on starboard before immediately gybing and heading out to the right-hand side. The majority of the starts were made at the pin end with just one at the windward end. During the prestart and starting practice a stop was made to remove the headsail traveller cover.

Time was called at 1530 with sails dropped before a foiling tow home for a dock in at 1615. A scheduled maintenance day has been called for tomorrow (Thursday, June 20) with the next possible sailing day being Friday, June 21.

On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: Luna Rosa Prada Pirelli craned in the AC75 at 10:50 am this morning. Standard checks from the onshore team on different systems and controls were done before the dock out at 11:40.

LRPP finished hoisting their M1-7 main sail at 12:00 inside the harbour and towed the AC75 into a North course and stopped just after Port Olímpic. They paired the mainsail with the J2-7 jib and started sailing just five minutes after. A wind of about 6 to 8 knots TWD 60º was blowing at that moment over long and round waves of about 1 to 1.7 m from an East direction.

The sailing session from today was basically divided in three different stints:

  • Stint 1 (12:20 to 13:35): 2 long upwinds and downwinds were done where 23 tacks, and 14 gybes were drilled.
  • Stint 2 (14:00 to 14:20): 4 pre-starts were done in this stint. The AC75 got into the box of the pre-start 50% of the times on port side and 50% of the times on starboard side. On starts number 3 and number 4 the chase boat was sailing as an opponent of the AC75.
  • Stint 3 (14:35 to 15:55): a mix of exercises were set in this stint including: mark roundings, pre-start box entrances, 2 starts with upwind /downwind course race and exercises of luffing and bearing away after short straight lines.

To highlight:

  • 4 cameras were installed today in each of the side foils: 2 for the low-pressure area (left and right side of the bulb) and 2 for the high-pressure area (left and right side of the bulb).
  • several criss-crosses were done with INEOS from the beginning of the second upwind and downwind on the first stint. We could enjoy a beautiful fight to keep the lead in the upwind where speeds were found to be similar but the downwind was clearly led by LRPP.
  • Tack and gybes manoeuvres from LRPP were flat to flat and very clean.
  • By the end of the session some short line ups on different course angles were seen with both arms down. We understood was a race technique to train for the pre-starts.

The following swaps were done:

  • Jib 2-7 was replaced for Jib 1.5-4 at 13:55.
  • Batteries were replaced at 14:20 (after 95 min of effective sailing)
  • At 14:20 two cyclors (Luca Kirwan & Cesare Gabbia OFF; Paolo Simion & Romano Battisti ON) and one helm (Francesco Bruni OFF, Marco Gradoni ON) replacements were done.

Two long stops of 25 minutes were done for Two long stops of 25 minutes were done for stock rudder checks, jib replacing and batteries replacement.

Sails were dropped at 15:55 and the AC75 was towed back to base and dock in was done at 16:25, after three hours and fifty-five minutes on the course and 160 minutes of active sailing. 78 manoeuvres were observed at 95% fully foiling rate. Jose Luis Piñana – LRPP AC Recon

On-Water Recon Report – INEOS Britannia: INEOS Britannia rolled out their AC75 at 09:30. The camera that used to be placed on top of the starboard side foil wing had been removed, maintaining the one on the port side.

Multiple Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team members were present today, including Toto Wolff, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, taking most of the session´s attention both onshore and on the water.

Britannia was craned to the water at 10:10 and the team docked-out at 12:15, fifteen minutes later than planned, after usual routine activities.

The MN1-1 of wider top section was selected for today’s session, combined with the J1-1 to start. Both sails were hoisted just before heading out of the harbour at 12:35.

A weak and unstable ENE gradient wind dominated the day, moving up and down in intensity, combined with a one-meter organized swell.

The training started with an upwind warm-up. Once close to the racecourse area, an upwind-downwind with LRPP was executed with both boats sailing on opposite tacks for most of the time.

Even though both teams had different headsails, on the upwind very small differences were observed, exchanging who crossed ahead and behind multiple times. In addition, there were many moments in which the two boats had different wind pressure, distorting the comparison. In contrast, on the downwind LRPP was ahead on the first cross and extended from there on.

In terms of comparative performance, differences were detected while gybing, in the transition in between downwind VMG courses from tack to tack. It seemed easier for LRPP to stay on the foils flying consistently with no need to go much higher for accelerating than downwind VMG course when coming out from the gybes, while in contrast INEOS had to make larger changes of the course to accelerate when exiting the downwind manoeuvres.

At the end of the downwind, at 13:35 there was a short break and then for the following hour it was all about the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 visitors. George Russell got onboard on the starboard side steering pit, while Toto Wolff took one of the cyclors’ position. Lewis Hamilton decided to stay on shore.

The session was resumed at 14:50 after a batteries replacement and a headsail change with the J2-1 coming up for the J1-1. After those actions, the training continued with some laps around the marks LRPP had set but sailing almost on opposite ends of the racecourse one team to another. No pre-start sequences were carried out. A two-lap upwind-downwind was executed, complementing with three gybes and tacks per leg, on average.

At 15:25 there was a new break in which there was a complete four-cyclors rotation while a few technicians got onboard, one heading inside the front hatch while two others worked on the mainsail clew.

At 15:40 the training continued with a long upwind, that ended with a broken jib top webbing, with the headsail dropping all of a sudden while sailing on port tack. At this time at 15:55, the British team decided to end the session and proceeded to lower both sails.

The AC75 got on the tow and headed back to the base, docking at 16:55. The boat was craned out of the water thirty minutes after. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on INEOS Britannia



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