Please select your home edition
Edition
Mackay Boats 728x90 TOP

America's Cup Rialto: January 11 - Capsize masks real takeouts from Practice Day 1

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World NZ 11 Jan 00:32 PST 11 January 2021
American Magic and Luna Rossa - Waitemata Harbour - January 11, 2021 - 36th America's Cup © Richard Gladwell - Sail-World.com / nz

A hurried couple of days Practice racing started today on the Hauraki Gulf, in a location that organisers wanted to be kept secret.

It didn't stay secret for too long after Emirates Team New Zealand made their third admitted capsize, as Te Rehutai lost her cherry.

The team are saying it was operator error, after the crew lost control after a high speed gybe at the end of a windward leeward - as the Kiwis lined up to round the bottom mark. They were under pressure from a much improved INEOS Team UK - who took the Practice Racing seriously and took to the home team with a match racing tactical strategy. It was vintage Ainslie applying relentless pressure and four-time Olympic Gold medalist got the reigning America's Cup champions to crack.

Had this been a Cup Match, the Brits would have come away with the points for a win. And had this been the opening day of AC36, the Brits would be cock-a-hoop - and rightfully so.

The racing was conducted in champagne conditions - excuse a very hackneyed phrase - but there was plenty of fizz with four AC75's racing in a beautiful southwesterly breeze clocking in at 18-23kts, flat water and bright sunshine.

A schedule of five races for the two pairs was in place with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli matched against American Magic, and INEOS Team UK against America's Cup champions, Emirates Team New Zealand. A schedule of practice starts, and wind leeward courses was set down for both pairs, with Italy and USA leading the way for their sequence, with the Brits and Kiwis then taking the stage.

Luna Rossa and American Magic continued this first Practice Day the same way they had with the five before the America's Cup World Series in the second week of December. Their practice was punctuated with one boat starting with a timed run at the line, and the other doing the same several boatlengths behind.

The first would then wait for the other to draw level, and then they would start the leg. It was hard to follow exactly what was supposed to be happening - and how seriously the training session was being taken. Part of the reason for the Practice Days - which were ordered by the Arbitration Panel decision on Friday, to further test the Race Management System - which provides data to the AC75 onboard systems as to mark positions, course boundaries, start and finishing mark positions and penalties.

It was conceded that there were issues with the system during the ACWS giving rise to complaints from the competitors. Between the two series developers from supplier Circle-O had been working on the software application over the Christmas/New Year period - and this was the first and final time for on the water testing, before the start of the Prada Cup.

One explanation for the timed run starts of Luna Rossa and American Magic was to test the accuracy of RMS. No start time was displayed on the Race Committee vessel for the starts using the first pair of boats. But the countdown clock came to life when Emirates Team New Zealand and INEOS Team UK started their session.

Part of the Arbitration Panel decision was a declaration that normally prohibited training in a co-ordinated manner with another AC75, was permitted during the two Practice days. INEOS Team UK and Emirates Team New Zealand made good use of this concession with a series of fast runs around the top and sides of the course - with the two boats pacing each other at high speed mostly reaching and downwind. However there is always the nagging question as to whether one or both are sailing at race pace.

The Brits and Kiwis carried this aggression into their fore-shortened practice sessions, with match racing tactics being employed at the start, instead of the timed runs of the first pair. Ainslie led over the start line on both starts, but not by a significant margin. Burling's style is often to be a close second out of the start, and then look for a passing lane and use a boatspeed advantage to gain the lead.

Significantly in Bermuda, in the Challenger Final - the most keenly contested series in the America's Cup regatta, it was Artemis Racing that led at the start, and around most of the marks in the Final. However Emirates Team New Zealand's mark wins mostly came in the final stages of the race - and at the finish.

Today, INEOS Team UK was quite a different boat from that which was oft-criticized during the ACWS - when the Royal Yacht Squadron entry had reliability issues in a breeze and couldn't foil in the light.

There were no reliability issues with the Brits today. Skipper Ben Ainslie looked like he could push the boat hard, and made the seemingly invincible Kiwi team crack under pressure.

That is not to say Emirates Team New Zealand were not impressive - as seen in the ACWS, when the occasion warranted, they can definitely find a fifth gear/light the afterburner when the need arises.

Most of the time today the photoboat was at the start leeward mark area - apart from the windward leeward sailed by the Brits and Kiwis (and the capsize, dammit).

At the top mark we saw Burling to push Te Rehutai's bow up by more than a few degrees - sail out from underneath the British - gas them and round the windward mark, before heading off down the run. What trade-off Burling made with the AC75's boatspeed to achieve this feat is not known. However the move did look impressive.

Ainslie had no other answer than to put his bow down, building speed, tacking and rounding the other gate. The two gybed across each other a couple of times on the way down the 1.7nm leg before the Kiwis fell over after exiting a gybe.

The capsize was remarkable for its recovery.

Unlike the nosedive in the Semi-Finals in Bermuda (also racing against Ben Ainslie), where the AC50 catamaran shattered on impact with the Great Sound, Te Rehutai suffered no apparent damage or injury to her crew. Instead of taking 40 minutes to be righted, the AC75 took less than four minutes, and could have raced again. Given the fresh conditions, probably over the wind limit for starting a race, the Kiwis decided to give it away for the day and was towed home on her foils, for a check over ahead of the second practice session on Tuesday.

That will again take place on a secret location, which we are not permitted to reveal.

Related Articles

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
America's Cup: Two feet
A unit of measurement, avatar and a couple more often helpful in sailboat racing It can be a unit of measurement. Also the very extremities you use for balance when standing up. Then on March 5 this year, we saw that they can even belong to an avatar assisting you and your cause via reinforcement learning. Posted on 28 Mar
Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTERHenri-Lloyd 2021 M-PRO PURE BLACK - FOOTERLloyd Stevenson Catalyst 45 728x90px1 BOTTOM