Please select your home edition
USA Fusion WB670 Hideaway 728x90px TOP

America's Cup Rialto: November 12 - AC75's have racing practice on Course C

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World NZ 12 Nov 2020 17:29 PST 13 November 2020
Opening stanzas of a minor sky jump - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - October - Waitemata Harbour - Auckland - 36th America's Cup © Richard Gladwell /

Two AC75's had racing training sessions on Course C, on Thursday - sailing in conditions that are typical of a Kiwi summer.

Despite of all the hype over race course access of the past few weeks, and just how that was going to be allocated for practice, today it was a case of "first up best dressed".

American Magic docked out at 1100hrs and 30 minutes later set up their racing marks on Course C - which is the Stadium Course for the 36th America's Cup.

The breeze was in early at 15kts from the SW - which is blowing straight down the NE/SW course axis, ideal conditions for when this course is expected to be used in the Prada Cup and America's Cup. It stayed that way for the rest of the day - and for the rest of the week, that could be it for the three crews. As a high pressure zone moves over New Zealand, light winds are predicted until Monday afternoon.

This is the first time we have seen the boats doing genuine race training on what is expected to be the most difficult course. There was some inkling of what it would be like back on September 19, 2021 when Emirates Team New Zealand's Te Aihe and American Magic's Defiant happened to find themselves on the same patch of water for the testing of a TV positioning system. While that looked real enough, a close look at the images shot, show crew walking around out of position, checking sail shape and the like.

Today's session was full on with American Magic doing several races around the marks they set off Rangitoto Island at the NE end of the course and close to Orakei Wharf at its SW end. For spectators it meant that North Head and Bastion Point provided great vantage points and from that perspective the Stadium Course is outstanding.

Luna Rossa came onto the course at 4.00pm having docked out at noon and sat off Takapuna for a couple of hours or so - seeming to have difficulty hoisting their main, and then hanging off the back of the chase boat for an extended period. American Magic's program seemed to race for a couple of laps, and then have a break, and start again. After the extended lunch break, which may have also been to try and repair a difficult break down, they pulled up their marks and packed it in.

Luna Rossa didn't lay marks but appeared to use the many channel markers in the area as a guide. They ran into an evening race fleet which meant they were slightly constricted.

Overall, the commentary about the relative performance between the two is about the same. Each performed a spectacular "sky jump" - we missed American Magic's in a lens change (takes about 10 seconds). Luna Rossa's we caught as the rudder appeared to ventilate - blowing the force it was generating.

Both were sailing very impressively, but at the same level as we have seen off ETNZ's Boat 1, Te Aihe - however American Magic has easily had the most time on the water of all the Challengers, and is working impressively. Today's effort came on the back of a very hard session in 25kts plus winds in The Paddock, testing a smaller mainsail.

The crews seem to have accepted that the trade-off for creating an end-plate effect with the rig and water via the hull and skeg, is that the skeg will kiss the water occasionally. We shot over 21,000 images during the day (mostly for camera gear and technique - manually focussing a 1200mm lens on a 40kt foiling monohull is not simple) and have nt had time to work through all of those. But it is clear that there is some tolerance for a light touchdown - that means the focus is on damage control - which explains the much more refined skegs on theses two race boats. As a result there is no obvious slow down in speed, and there is no splash down - as we saw in the early Boat 1 days.

Tacking was generally very good. Can't recall seeing any major snafu on either AC75. The co-ordination could have been a bit sharper at times. The big focus during the tack will not be hull contact with the water as it was in the AC50's and early AC75 days, but the efficiency with spending as little time as possible with both foil arms deployed.

Clearly the whack and splash with which the new foil hits the water during a tack/gybe is not helping boatspeed, and getting through this necessary process as quickly as possible - and get back to a single foil and 30kts plus upwind and into the 40's downwind. Small time deltas will turn into big distances at those speeds almost regardless of speed through the water. There are a lot of corners to be turned on Course C.

We also got a chance to gauge how close winded the AC75's are in relation to normal keelboats. With the evening race fleet rounding a mark in Course C, and occasionally Luna Rossa got on their same line and tack. The AC75's approach seemed to be to come out of the tack much fatter than the 34ft keelboats, build speed and then come up onto their line. Probably what would have been expected in theory, but it is nice to see the practice working that way.

Bottom line is that we can expect the AC75's to sail a "normal" yacht race but at four or five times the speed.

Both Dean Barker and Jimmy Spithill were driving hard as could be expected - and were sailing at race pace - which is something you don't always expect to see on the AC75 when they are transitioning through the harbour.

The difference between the two was that Luna Rossa seemed to be sailing the same lines each upwind leg, while there was more variation from Dean Barker who has the greater experience match racing in this area. However Barker had course marks to sail against and didn't have a Thursday night race fleet to contend with.

Overall impression, having not seen the British boat out since Sunday and with the Kiwis yet to launch Boat 2, is there is not a lot of difference speed-wise between the two AC75's. American Magic has always looked quick out of the box and has not had the same downtime as the others, and they were five days ahead of their program at the time of launch. So they should be well down the track now.

Luna Rossa had a week long time-out after their first sail - whether that was planned or not, who knows? The Italians certainly have the pace, and if they can hit their time benchmarks will lift their performance. But while USA have been putting in the work in Auckland, bear in mind they had five months off the water, before their arrival. Luna Rossa on the other hand were the only team that didn't "lose" their AC75 because of COVID-19, and came to Auckland with maybe more time in their logbook than the New York Yacht Club.

One thing is for sure is that on the Stadium Course, the fans will be the big winners - who takes the Cup is almost secondary. However that event will be very closely fought from what we saw today. Maybe the closest and most difficult Cup ever. Certainly it will be a test of seat of the pants racing and sailing skills as much as technology.

Related Articles

America's Cup: Defender rebuffs NYYC overtures
The America's Cup Defenders and Challenger of Record have rebuffed NYYC's Challenge Unsurprisingly, the America's Cup Defenders, along with the Challenger of Record, have rebuffed the surprise Challenge lodged by the New York Yacht Club, on May 6, and announced earlier today. Posted on 9 May
Gladwell's Line: Pressing ignition on pro-sailing
The sail racing world is spluttering back into life after over 12 months of being hostage by COVID The sail racing world is spluttering back into life after over 12 months of being hostage to the COVID pandemic - here's a look at how SailGP and the America's Cup coped, plus the 2024 Olympic event quandary. Posted on 6 May
American Magic ready to sail with 7-8 days notice
American Magic's Terry Hutchinson says they are all ready to go sailing at 7-8 days notice American Magic's Terry Hutchinson says the AC36 Challenger are all packed and ready to go sailing at 7-8 days notice, if the next venue is Auckland, otherwise they will head back to the USA. Posted on 3 May
SailGP Bermuda: Dramatic onboard collision video
Dramatic video footage shot from on-board Japan SailGP as their courses intersected with USA SailGP Dramatic video footage shot from on-board Japan SailGP as their courses intersected with USA SailGP on Leg 3 of Race 4 of Day 2 of SailGP Bermuda. Nathan Outteridge describes how it unfolded. Posted on 26 Apr
ACHof: Induction of Peter Montgomery and Ed Baird
America's Cup Hall of Fame: Induction of Peter Montgomery and Ed Baird On March 19, 2021, just a couple of days after the Emirates Team New Zealand successfully defended the America's Cup, the America's Cup Hall of Fame held an Induction Ceremony to welcome broadcaster PJ Montgomery and America's Cup winner Ed Baird Posted on 22 Apr
America's Cup: Luna Rossa's control systems outed
AC36 Challenger Luna Rossa explain how their systems work and the rules that govern their use Handling a boat like the AC75 requires the use of sophisticated management and control systems actioning a compact network of valves and pistons. Here Luna Rossa explain how their systems work and the rules that govern their use Posted on 14 Apr
Coutts more confident of SailGP Bermuda proceeding
SailGP needs COVID dispensations for Bermuda event to proceed on schedule Russell Coutts, CEO of SailGP has told Bermuda Tonight that he is more confident of the first regatta in the 2021 circuit getting underway as scheduled, despite there being only 10 days left until the scheduled start on April 24. Posted on 14 Apr
SailGP: Bermuda goes into seven day lockdown
Bermuda will enter a "shelter at home" policy, ending after the start of SailGP Round 2 It has been announced in Bermuda that the island will enter a "shelter at home" policy for the next seven days at least. The Premier says no exceptions will be made for SailGP for training or racing. Posted on 12 Apr
36th America's Cup put under the microscope
The international broadcast team for 36AC give their take on the breakpoints of regatta Key moments and analysis on the 36th America's Cup. This includes several interviews with key team members on their recollections of some of the more spectacular incidents, which were glossed over at the time due to the pace of the event. Posted on 10 Apr
America's Cup: Gulf Wars - your record of 36AC
A souvenir record of the regattas of the 36th America's Cup is now on sale across all regions A souvenir record of the regattas of the 36th America's Cup is now on sale in New Zealand, and available internationally published just over a week after racing concluded in the 36th America's Cup. Posted on 31 Mar
Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTERC-Tech 2020 Battens 2 728x90 BOTTOMLloyd Stevenson Catalyst 45 728x90px3 BOTTOM