Thursday wasn’t the first day the AC45 yacht of the 34th America’s Cup Challenger of Record was sailing here in Valencia but it was the first time the Swedish team opened its base and allowed media and guests to watch the entire procedure of the wing being mounted on the catamaran as well as the actual launch on the water.
The AC45's are, at least they are supposed be, one-design yachts and they have been sailing for a number of months now, so it wasn’t an unusual and extraordinary peak Paul Cayard let us have. However, at least for me, it was the very first opportunity to have a very close look at the yachts marking this 'new' America’s Cup.
Artemis Racing are headquartered right here in Valencia, inside the base Areva Challenge used in the 32nd America’s Cup, and according to the brief speech by Bob Billingham, the team COO, approximately 90% of its personnel is also based here. We were free to wander around and take any shot of the yacht and her wing, from any angle we wanted, and as a result, we’ll have many detailed photos.
Thursday is the third day of sailing for Artemis and their schedule is to continue until the 22nd of July before packing up and heading by road to Cascais, where they are epxected to arrive on the 25th. According to skipper and helmsman Terry Hutchinson, the first two days have been very productive, Wednesday in particular when they had a nice thermal breeze between 15 and 20 knots. The usual day’s schedule calls for 5 hours of sailing, between 1pm and 6pm, when the summer thermal breeze in Valencia is at full swing.
Launch of the Artemis Racing AC45 yacht. Valencia, 14 July 2011. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info
Artemis took the decision to have the European launch of its AC45 yacht in Valencia many months ago when, according to the 34th America’s Cup rules, training in Cascais was limited to just 3 days prior to the event. However, it seems that the poorer teams objected to that since it would have been impossible for them to set a base in Valencia, or any other place, given the cost it would have entailed. As a result, America’s Cup Race Management relaxed the rules and made training in Cascais free. Still, that decision was apparently taken too late for Artemis to radically change their plans. Cascais is approximately 900km from Valencia or 2 days by truck. If one adds the 3 days necessary for all the equipment to be packed and then 3 days to be unpacked, Artemis will probably have one week less sailing preparation in Cascais than the other teams already there.
The wing mounting process was fairly straightforward and took exactly 14 minutes, from the moment the wing was rolled off the shed until it was firmly on the platform. It then took the shore crew another 5, more or less, minutes of preparation for the launch while the actual launch took less than 3 minutes. It is true though that conditions were benign this morning. When the process started at 10:30am there was at most 2-3 knots of breeze inside Port America’s Cup, coming head on. It will surely be a very different task with 20 knots of wind, coming from behind and pushing the wing out. Even with that extremely gentle breeze, the wing has the tendency to do what it is supposed to do, fly.
For that reason, they have set a temporary mooring buoy some 20-30 meters from the dock and the Artemis AC45 will spend her Valencia nights there, only to be taken out every 3 nights, if needed. It seems that this will also be the setup in Cascais and once launched, the racing yachts will not go out, unless imperatively needed.
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