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America's Cup: Alinghi RBR gets foiling off Barcelona

by Sophia Urban, Alinghi Red Bull Racing 23 Sep 05:14 PDT 24 September 2022
Alinghi Red Bull Racing, Barcelona, Spain, September 2022 © Olaf Pignataro/Alinghi Red Bull Racing

Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s BoatZero is back in the water!

After a first sail Tuesday in Barcelona, testing every aspect of the boat, the team experienced foiling for the first time on the AC75 Wednesday.

“What an amazing feeling, finally!”, said driving group member Nicolas Charbonnier. “This break felt too long. As sailors all we want to do is go out there and get wet. But it takes a lot of time to control these boats, they’re complex machines and we’re starting from scratch as a new team. It’s all about patience: slow steps every day! It felt super good to go out again and validate each step: towing, sail hoisting, sailing, foiling.”

After a maiden sail at the end of August, which marked the first time onboard an AC75 for the team, the boat capsized as it was being towed back to the base, caught in a strong rain squall. This resulted in a full review of the boat and the systems to ensure everything was working well before going back out on the water. “The team worked super hard after the capsize to put the boat back in perfect sailing condition, especially the shore crew,” added driving group member Lucien Cujean.

There were many designers on board the chase boats, excited to see BoatZero sailing again. "It's important for the design team to get out on the water and see the boat in action," said Steven Robert, lead structural engineer. "Despite the advanced technology and excellent data we can collect, you don’t get the same feeling through videos and numbers, that you have when you observe from the chase boat. It’s realistic out there." They weren't the only ones on the water as the official spies, the Recon Unit, were also on hand to capture every minute of the sailing.

Led by Tim Hacket, the shore crew has not left the shed much recently, fully focused on getting the boat ready for sailing to start again yesterday. “The AC75 is much more complicated than I expected,” confessed Charbonnier. “You need so many qualified people to be able to go out and sail, which is sometimes frustrating for us sailors. The definition of teamwork makes total sense in an America’s Cup project. It’s like a puzzle: if you’re missing one piece, you can’t finish it. It's challenging and interesting!”

The young sailing team, totally new to the AC75, can count on their two Sailing Team Advisors onboard with them this week, Pietro Sibello and Dean Barker. "Having access to an AC75 allows the team to move forward considerably, both in terms of on-water development and in terms of processes and systems involving the whole team," explained Dean Barker. "These are very important steps in building a strong team and defining the key elements of the boat as early as possible. We want to gather as much data and experience as we can that will be decisive for the design and conceptual choices for the race boat.”

Today is just the first step of a very long and steep learning curve. A first successful step that feels so good!

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