Amerca's Cup: back in business in Barcelona

Amerca's Cup: back in business in Barcelona

Amerca's Cup: back in business in Barcelona


16/05/2024 - 15:05

After a rain-lashing yesterday, Wednesday in Barcelona was a very different prospect although for Alinghi Red Bull Racing, NYYC American Magic, Orient Express Racing Team, and Athena Pathway, they all had to be patient and choose their sailing areas carefully. The persistent and slow-moving Atlantic high that is gradually filtering in with wide isobars is the transition to summer that the locals talk about with Barcelona capable of serving up rain, wind, and then flat calms – all in a few minutes.

Nevertheless, they all gave it a shot today and were rewarded with some good passages of training in a whole variety of wind ranges from zero to 14 knots with squalls filtering around the racetrack and a mix of sea-states – classic Barcelona early-summer conditions.

For Alinghi Red Bull Racing, this was remarkably, their third day of sailing this week. The Swiss are just relentless and really valuing every second they can get on the water and their remarkable shore team should take a lot of credit, beavering away to set the boat up this morning under yet more rain – tough work. Out on the water after a midday dock-out, it was the technical teams who had their work cut out with the recon team recording multiple stops for them to come onboard (see report below) and fix a variety of issues.

This somewhat created a stop/start day of training and with the wind building and fading it was a difficult day of sailing. Interestingly the team opted to run their smaller M2-1 mainsail paired with the J2-1 and all afternoon the boat looked under-powered until a squall came through and delivered a 15-knot pulse and the team opted for a J4-1 for the rest of the session. Clearly cross-over ranges were in focus and these kind of exercises, although seemingly strange and inexplicable from the outside, are designed to get the trimmers and helms really concentrating on boat moding and sail trim when under-powered.

Once the team got into some pre-start action and laps, they looked alive, especially on the racecourse with some neat calls on the laylines, perfect flight and very smooth mark roundings. Pre-start practice is certainly something the team will be concentrating on heavily as they get used to the speed-build profile and flight capabilities of the new, and now symmetric, foil profiles.

Speaking afterwards, Maxime Bachelin, the port helm on ‘BoatOne,’ summed up an interesting day of sail evaluation, saying: “It was a long day on the water with a lot of different conditions on the wind. We started with a light wind and a bit of waves and ended up with more like 15 knots so it was a good range to try some sails and for the boat handling...We started with our J2 legacy, because the conditions were quite light and it's a bit different profile of what we have on the new one, and we just wanted to analyse some stuff with it, and the mainsail, the M2, to see as well the downrange...At the end we sailed on the J4, we started with the normal wind condition for J4 and at the end was quite light. What's interesting is to try to sail with the smaller jib and we found out that we still have a good speed with the small jib and so still are working on the cross-over.”

Looking at the pre-start practice, it’s clear that the Swiss are still dialling into the speed-builds in the final approaches and Max clarified that saying: “The boat is quite different to BoatZero so we still need to be a bit more used to (it) as the foils are a bit bigger, the span, so it’s changing a bit how to react in the box and so yeah just getting used to (it) and trying to sail with a bit more wind will help us to achieve a better manoeuvre.”

Another four and a half hours on the water for Alinghi Red Bull Racing – the unquestioned hardest-driving team in the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup, and another day planned for tomorrow although this evening in Barcelona, the W-Hotel wasn't lit-up in red. Perhaps a rest for the charging Bull? We will see...

Meanwhile, for NYYC American Magic it was also a day dogged by technical issues with the jib in focus and, in fairness, they never really looked as though they were in their stride. The conditions didn’t help but it was later revealed that a broken part on the jib system, that couldn’t be replaced on the water, was the catalyst for a stop/start kind of session that lasted just over a couple of hours on the water when clearly the sailing team wanted more.

Docking-out, the team selected the J1 jib which we don’t see too often on AC75s owing to the drag factor and it was a short-lived affair with the team changing down after a short upwind and a gybe to displacement downwind. The J3-1 was selected and the team struggled with the hoist before setting off for the Badalona vicinity on a downwind leg. And that was that effectively, the team rounded up and called it a day, recording just 35 minutes of flight time.

Speaking afterwards, Andrew Campbell, Flight Controller and a superb voice of reason within the team, spoke to the recon saying: “We were kind of chasing between raise squalls today, winter doesn't want to quit here you know I thought we were going to the shorts all the time and I’ve got my dry suit on one more day here, so that's the kind of day it was - puffy and gusty in between the rain cells and we made the most of the time that we had but yeah at the end of the day there we ended up breaking something and then had to come in...we had like a jib sheet system issue there that was not something that we could fix on the water, so we had to come in and take a look at it.”

Asked about the complexity of the jib system, which the team have struggled with in recent sessions, in relation to the mainsheet system that was developed on the old ‘Patriot,’ Andrew added: “They're both complex in their own way. I think all the teams are learning about how the jib track geometry works and making sure that we're happy with that set up and how it's all working and getting control from the sailor side that we expect through the manoeuvres and through the straight-lines. I don't think it's necessarily more complex than the mainsheet system they're both pretty complex, but you know ultimately, we're just chasing what we know is the best way to trim the sails and to get the shapes that the designers are asking for. We're trying to make it complex enough that we can make all those shapes happen.”

And speaking specifically about the jib system, Andrew commented: “There are different ways to skin that cat to try and get the jib lead working in a way without having it all above deck if that makes sense. You don't really want to anything on deck that you can afford not to with the boats going this fast, so the more that we can keep under deck the better off we all are and that that adds to some of the complication of it that you're trying to make sure it's streamlined and out of the wind.”

Building resilience into the wonderful aero design of Patriot is now the number one task of the NYYC American Magic shore team. The midnight oil will be burnt, you can bet on that.

Elsewhere, and not under the glare of the recon spotlight for now, Orient Express Racing Team continued their training in the AC40 whilst the hard-driving, full-commitment of Athena Pathway with their Youth & Women sailors put in a decent shift out of their Badalona base as they prepare for the UniCredit Youth America’s Cup and the Puig Women’s America’s Cup – time on the water is everything and the British are looking good. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: The Swiss rolled out their AC75 at 10:00. The boat was craned to the water at 10:22 and the team docked out at 12:00, as planned, after usual routine activities under the rain.

The M2-1 was selected for the session, combined with the J2-1L. Both sails were hoisted just before heading out of the port at 12:20. This sail configuration had the intention to test the boat’s performance with a smaller sail area than the M1-1 + J2-1 combination, in bottom-end wind conditions.

Unstable SSW winds prevailed during the day, moving up and down in intensity, shifting in direction, with lots of cloud movements and scattered showers coming into play. The training started with a tow take-off and a downwind-upwind, in extremely light conditions under six knots of true wind speed. Most of the manoeuvres were fully landed and it seemed hard for Alinghi Red Bull Racing to manoeuvre the AC75 comfortably with the selected configuration.

At 13:10 there was a fifteen-minute break in which the technicians got onboard, for the first time of many more during the day.

At 13:25 the wind intensity had increased to over eight knots of intensity and the session was resumed. The Swiss team set themselves to kick-off the first training race of the day. However, when approaching the starting line from the pin end on port tack to enter the box, the boat was forced to head into the wind and came to a sudden stop. Immediately after, the hydraulics and electronics engineers got onboard together with the boat captain. After working for ten minutes, sailing continued.

At 13:42 the first of three training races got underway, with a two-minute pre-start and a two-lap upwind-downwind racecourse with marks, altering the top and gates mark roundings to port and starboard and performing three tacks and gybes per leg on average. Alinghi Red Bull Racing had a late start due to an unfortunate touchdown in one of the manoeuvres during the pre-start sequence, and the race was stopped after the leeward gate mark rounding.

At 14:05 the technicians got onboard for ten minutes and after their works, sailing was resumed with a straight downwind on starboard tack, possibly to verify the correct functionality of all systems. Then a new stop occurred in which there was a complete four-cyclors rotation, plus a headsail change with the J4-1 coming up in replacement of the legacy J2-1L, as the wind had increased considerably to fifteen knots of intensity.

At 14:50 BoatOne was back at the racecourse for two more practice races. The second stint saw the AC75 do some rough gybes and bear-aways during the pre-start, causing a late approach to the starting line. The two-lap course was completed with neat mark roundings and fully foiling manoeuvres.

At 15:34 after the technicians worked onboard once more, the final stint occurred with BoatOne starting in the middle of the line on time, in a dying and unstable breeze, in out-of-range J4-1 conditions. As a consequence, a few of the upwind tacks counted as touch and go. On the second upwind, BoatOne continued sailing upwind towards the harbour.

Sails got lowered at 16:00 outside the port, and the AC75 reached the base on the tow, docking at 16:35. Twenty-five minutes after it was craned out of the water indicating the end of the day. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on Alinghi Red Bull Racing

On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: American Magic rolled out Patriot at 10:30 and craned in at 10:50. Camera bulbs were added to the top and bottom outboard surfaces of the starboard foil. Jib sheet testing was carried out, followed by a short period of Foil Cant System testing. The team docked out at 12:40, hoisted the MN2-1 mainsail and J1-1 jib under the breakwater, with further jib system testing with sails unloaded.

Sailing commenced at 13:15 under unstable wind conditions due to the rainstorm further upwind. A short downwind stint ended after the first gybe, which was a touchdown.

Further work was carried out on the jib sheet system while sailing in displacement mode. Another short downwind of three gybes was sailed, before dropping the J1 jib, with wind increasing and turning right, increasing the offset between wind direction (220deg) and the residual swell direction (120deg). 

After what looked like a bit of trouble hoisting the J3-1 jib, the team were underway again, sailing a short upwind before a long downwind to Badalona. Most of the downwind was sailed on starboard in the race area, before rounding up and coming to a stop as further issues were encountered. According to Andrew Campbell in the post-sailing interview, a broken part in the jib system which could not be repaired on the water was the cause for ending the sailing day early.

Sails were dropped by 15:05 and Patriot was towed back to base from Badalona. The team docked in at 15:35, after three hours on the water, of which 35 minutes was spent sailing. 11 manoeuvres were performed, 73% fully foiling.

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