America's Cup: Swiss break rig on Glamour Barcelona day

America's Cup: Swiss break rig on Glamour Barcelona day

America's Cup: Swiss break rig on Glamour Barcelona day


14/06/2024 - 10:47

Alinghi Red Bull Racing suffered a catastrophic failure of their mast today in Barcelona just after 2pm with the afternoon sea-breeze well and truly in, with what the locals call a ‘strong Garbi’ from 210-220 degrees atop a 0.5-0.8 metres, three-second period swell from 230 degrees. It was a bear-away at top pace, with mast bend evident before the forestay went slack as the lower section in the bottom third of the mast gave way under pressure forward, causing the rig to collapse into the water to leeward.

Immediately we saw the superb crew work of the Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailing and support teams, swing into action with a composure and professionalism of the highest order. Make no mistake, this was outstanding team-work with divers in the water and all hands on deck to rescue the situation - all credit to the team. Safety of the crew was paramount and the first priority, and thankfully no injuries were reported. The integrity of the boat was the next priority, and this was secured quickly with only minor scratches observed initially around the bow area. All round a first-class effort from everyone on the water.

Obviously an immediate blow to the team, who have been putting in incredible performances on the water over recent months, the professionalism was mirrored shoreside by a swift and concise statement from Silvio Arrivabene, the Co-General Manager of Alinghi Red Bull Racing: “This afternoon, while executing a bear away in 20-knot winds, there was a mast failure on BoatOne. Everybody on board is safe, which is the most important thing. The boat is already back ashore which will allow us to quickly assess the cause of the failure.”

And Silvio continued: “Incidents like this are part of the sport. The team is prepared for this kind of situation and ready with all the necessary spare parts, so the focus is now on getting BoatOne back on the water as soon as possible.”

Moments like this, dramatic as they are, can be campaign-defining but with huge resources on hand and an outstanding shore team, the Swiss will no doubt bounce back stronger and be back into training in double-quick time. Everyone in the Port Vell and beyond wishes them a speedy return.

Elsewhere in Barcelona today, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and Orient Express Racing Team eyed the perfect weather conditions this afternoon and docked-out with the Italians very much showing their form as they pushed hard on the racecourse of the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup.

An interesting exchange was held with Alinghi Red Bull Racing prior to the Swiss losing their rig and in the top end conditions with gusts recorded at 22 knots, it was nip and tuck upwind, tack-for-tack between the two Challengers. Luna Rossa eventually broke off to practise some pre-starts with honours even with the Swiss and went off to perform laps of the laid Swiss racecourse with the pace just getting higher and higher under the smaller mainsail and J4 legacy jib. Massive day for the Italians who once again have translated their incredible form from their LEQ12 into the big boat and are coming good when it matters.

Speaking afterwards, Jimmy Spithill gave a wide-ranging interview saying: “It was a great breeze and not too rough either, pretty flat seaway so yeah focus on the day was just put some time on the boat in those conditions, really try and push the top end, and yeah it was a great day...The boat felt good, always in those conditions it's a big workout for the lads on the bikes but they did a great job, we did one rotation and yeah we got round nicely.”

Asked how much more is to come, in terms of performance, Jimmy added: “Huge amount of potential I think for the whole fleet and, even then once the racing starts that's probably where you learn the most because then you can get an official line up, all the teams are measured in, they’re pushing as hard as they can, so I think again we'll see a big spike in development.”

Clearly the Italians are now looking forward to the racing with the Louis Vuitton Cup just 70 days away and the preliminary regatta even earlier and Jimmy’s experience is telling with his approach very clear: “I think it's really seeing where you fit in the fleet, some guys may be stronger in certain conditions and others vice versa, and then you need a little bit of luck on when you face a team like that, facing them in your strength or the other way around, so it'll be fascinating. I think after the first practise regatta and Round Robin the teams will have a pretty good idea of where their good points are.”

For Orient Express Racing Team, it was a case of safety-first today after an initial very unstable flight that called for the technicians to come onboard and try to solve what looked like a major control issue in the trim pods. Unfortunately, the issue could not be solved on the water and after just two very rapid and ragged flights, the decision was taken to tow back to the base after nearly three hours on the water, with the winds hitting 22 knot gusts. Good decision from the French and the sensible one.

So, a dramatic Thursday in Barcelona and one that will have all the teams analysing the mast break of Alinghi Red Bull Racing. A tough break for the Swiss but as we’ve seen many times before with this tenacious, young team, their bounce-backs from adversity are legendary. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report - Alinghi Red Bull Racing: The Swiss rolled out BoatOne at 9:30, the mast was stepped after a longer procedure of tensioning and releasing the forestay, the yacht was craned in at 10:20. After the usual dock checks, the team docked-out at 12:00.

Higher range breeze was forecasted and hence M2-1 was paired to the J3 just inside the harbour. Once behind the pier, BoatOne took off on starboard tack with the previously seen technique employing the windward board. The breeze was measured 18-20 knots from 215°.

In the first stint, BoatOne sailed an upwind and a downwind practicing some manoeuvres. BoatOne looked a bit overpowered and stopped to swap the J3-1 with the J4-1 jib. Then the team seemed to face an issue after self-taking-off and sailing less than a minute.

Once up foilborne again, B2 started drilling some laps on the course and occasionally engaging and exchanging leads with the Italian challenger. At 14:10, after approx. 60 minutes foiling sailing, and 30 manoeuvres, all four cyclors were swapped and new batteries were brought onboard. The J4-1 was lowered and rehoisted for a quick check before two additional stints were sailed around the course.

Back foiling at 15:05, BoatOne sailed an upwind and while bearing away on the left hand mark, a structural failure occurred, buckling the mast in two pieces at a third of its height, the rig collapsed on the deck and into the water.

The hull seemed to have not suffered any major damage beside scratched surfaces on the bow. To recover the rig and mast pieces, the sheets and mainsail skins were cut open.

As the team docked in, the hull was craned out a 16:30 followed by the mast pieces and mainsail skins recovered by divers.

For the day, BoatOne was observed with 88 minutes foiling, 28 tacks and 21 gybes with the majority foil to foil. Michele Melis AC Recon.

On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli rolled out their AC75, B3, at 10:45, and craned in 30 minutes later. Standard checks were carried out over just under an hour at the dock, before the Mn0-2 mainsail was prepared on the halyard to hoist ahead of 12:10 dock-out.

Ruggero Tita was back at the base today and followed the sailing day on Chase 1. With upper end wind conditions on the sailing area, gusts of 19kn and relatively flat sea, the team went straight for the J4-3 (legacy) jib and set sail at 12:40.

With the intention of putting time and pushing in top end conditions, the team began with a short downwind warmup, before rounding up to engage in split tacks with Alinghi Red Bull Racing. A few free laps were sailed before sail settings were adjusted as the wind was still building, with gusts of 22 knots recorded, then setting off on long stretches upwind/downwind on each tack.

Attention then turned to racecourse practice, as two 2-lap runs of ARBR’s set course were sailed. Following the two races, and after an hour and a half of active sailing, Marco Gradoni replaced Francesco Bruni at the port helm, and two of four cyclors rotated out, with Enrico Voltolini and Bruno Rosetti remaining on board. A battery change was also carried out, among other minor works carried out with techs on board.

The team set off upwind but came to a stop after a few minutes once noticing that Alinghi Red Bull Racing had lost their mast. Chase 1 immediately headed over to the Swiss challenger to offer support. A final stint of more long stretches on each tack upwind/downwind were sailed, before dropping sails by 15:45 to end the day.

The team docked in at 16:00 after just under four hours on the water and 108 minutes of active sailing. 51 manoeuvres were observed, all of which were fully foiling. Justin Busuttil - AC Recon

On-Water Recon Report – Orient Express Racing Team: Orient Express Racing Team craned in their AC75 at 08:20 this morning. Several checks from the onshore team on the aero and flight systems and controls were done before the dock-out, which was at 10:35. The idea from today was to sail early as the forecast was predicting a SW breeze over 20 kn.

OERT paired their M2-1 mainsail with a J3 jib at 11.15 inside the harbour and started sailing. A wind of about 11 to 14 knots was blowing at that moment and the sea state was quite flat so it was perfect to check the take-off speed which was seen to be at solid 19 knots.

After the take-off they quickly accelerated to almost 30 knots but the boat was looking very unstable in the pitch angle so they had to stop. A technician jumped up on the AC75 and he went straight to check the cyclor pod closest to the stern from port side. Also some focus was on the pod from the starboard helm. 

After around 30 minutes of checks they tested again sailing on port and the boat was not flying stable at all so they had to stop again. The focus was now on the pod of the port side trimmer.

Whilst the technicians did their checks, the sailors swapped the jib from the J3 to the J5, as the wind was quickly increasing and in fact once the J5 was up, the gusts were already up at 22 knots so, with the boat still in commissioning, and without the systems working perfectly, OERT decided wisely to call it early for today.

No swap of batteries and no swap of cyclors was done today. Sails were dropped at 13.00 and dock in was at 13:30. Jose Luis Piñana – OERT AC Recon

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