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Cup Spy Nov 2-3: Swiss slowly taming their AC75

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 4 Nov 2022 00:40 PDT 4 November 2022
Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 splashes spectacularly - November 3, 2022 - Barcelona © Alex Carabi / America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - November 2-3, 2022:

  • Luna Rossa sailed LEQ12 off Sardinia, and made good progress when the breeze was in - they're looking forward to the Mistral due this weekend.
  • American Magic sailed the AC75 off Pensacola, with Tom Slingsby on the helm and cyclors back in operation. Winds are still light and the water flat in Florida.
  • INEOS Britannia are yet to sail their newly launched LEQ12 from Mallorca
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed their AC75 from Barcelona - with coach Dean Barker on board, they are still going up a very steep learning curve.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand has not sailed for the last two days.
  • America's Cup Event announced the signing of a major documentary deal for a "Drive to Survive" unscripted documentary for the 2024 Cup.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Cagliari

The progress of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli's LEQ12 12 metre long test, or prototype yacht is being watched with great interest, as it is the first of its type to be launched for the 2024 America's Cup.

On Thursday in a 10-14 kts breeze it still seemed to have some teething issues, but when it got up and going the LEQ12 was quite impressive. It is not yet getting the same performance numbers that Emirates Team New Zealand got out of their AC40, hitting over 40kts on the second, and maxing out at over 46kts a few days later

Jib Trimmer Andrea Tesei was a Bronze medalist in the 2017 European 49ers and Silver medalist in the 2015 49er Worlds. He sailed for Luna Rossa in the 2021 America's Cup.

"We are still going through some commissioning [on the LEQ12], he told the 37AC Joint Recon team in a dockside interview after Thursday's sailing session.

"Today was definitely the first sailing real sailing day where we were able to do several foiling tacks and gybes, takeoffs and racing roundups.

"The boat is starting to behave well, and the systems are responding to what we want. It was a really positive day."

"Today was the best conditions you can get to learn this boat. We had 10-14 knots, the sea state was pretty flat for the southerly breeze we get in Cagliari. So it was a really good day to learn."

The only question over the LEQ12 is that, in the videos that have been produced (over 20 in today's Recon package), it looks rather "short legged" - meaning that it is foiling close to the water. In in a rougher sea state the foil arms seem to snag the surface, quite frequently, and throw a lot of spray - which represents drag, and a speed loss.

ETNZ's AC40 doesn't seem to have quite the same issue, but also flies with a bow-down attitude, while the Italian LEQ12 is much more level in flight - and more akin to the way AC75's were being flown in the last America's Cup.

We'll have a better idea of who is right, when the Brits sail their LEQ12 from Mallorca, and also when the Italians have clocked up the same amount of sailing time as the Kiwis in their AC40.

Moderate winds are predicted for Friday, and gusting 25kts plus on Saturday.

On-Water Recon Unit Notes: Take off looked easier on this day with take-off boat speeds in reaching course between 16 and 19 knots according to RIB Gps, reached boat speeds of approx. 32 knots with TWA of approx. 100 deg. While bearing away one "close-to" nosedive with good recovery. Breeze varied between 9 and 12 knots, Prototype self-taking off for whole session on the water.

Session Statistics - Cagliari - November 3, 2022 - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12

  • Wind Strength (AM) 9-12kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: (AM) SE (PM)
  • Sea State: No Swell (PM)
  • Roll out: 08300hrs Dock Out: 1115hrs
  • Dock In: hrs Crane out: 1600hrs
  • Total Tacks: 7 - Fully foiling: 6; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 9 - Fully foiling: 7; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 1

Crew: Jimmy Spithill, Francesco Bruni(Helms); Umberto Molineris, Andrea Tesei (Trimmers)

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 Version 1 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing had an interesting, if very grey day, with light winds at the start of the session, building throughout, but without much in the way of a sea state from what could be seen on the 48 videos put into the AC37 Recon system.

Initially the AC75, looked to be slow to get on its foils, and doesn't seem to pop out of the water as quickly as it did in Auckland, when Emirates Team New Zealand sailed it.

However the boat has not been sailing long and has a crew which is still stepping up into the AC75. It still appears to be in a Version 1 state, and with a weight of around 7600kgs (inc crew) - which is about 700kgs heavier than the Version 2 AC75's will be in the 2024 America's Cup.

The day, with an increasing breeze doesn't help much, as crews tend to change down jibs very quickly in the AC75's and in the videos, Alinghi RBR didn't look fully pressured.

Nils Theuninky, one of the Alinghi RBR Power Group (aka Grinders), who was on the port jib trim today, and spoke with the AC37 Recon team after the team arrived back at the dock.

"We knew the forecast was going to be quite windy. So we were prepared for the wind's to increase. We went through some more testing on the new setups we changed last week. Everything went well. And we managed to sell do a couple bearaways, a couple of foiling maneuvers and hit some good speeds. Overall, we're really happy.

"The breeze increased gradually. So every time the wind increased we changed the jib down.

"In the end, the wind climbed quite a bit. We were hitting the upper range there. And the boats was not reacting the way he wanted. So we played it safe and started to call it the day."

Although not captured on video Boat Zero performed one of the 'sky jumps' which are an unintended feature of the AC75 - usually triggered by an issue in the flight control system, when the AC75 is at speed and then climbs sharply on its main foils and exits the water at high speed a takeoff angle, about double that of passenger jet taking off. It then crashes whale-like back into the water, with a serious splash - which was caught on still camera images.

On a more positive note, Theuninck reported that "the mainsail looks much better with the new [boomless] system. So hopefully we can get some more positive data."

On-Water Recon Unit Notes: The team spent the first half of the session adjusting the main and changing jibs as the wind increased. (Much time was spent setting up the Mainsail on the new mainsheet system). They settled with the J4 and committed a 40-minute stint, practicing a few bear-aways and foiling manoeuvres, completing their best foiling tack yet. The team changed for the J5 when the wind increased to 17+ knots, however called an end to the session after a short upwind stint. The wind increase came as forecast and will continue tomorrow. With a fairly flat sea state and building breeze, Alinghi sailed approximately 30 Nautical Miles, reaching speeds upwards of 40 knots. The team aim to resume sailing on Saturday 5 November.

Session Statistics - Barcelona - November 3, 2022 - Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40

  • Wind Strength 5kts (AM) 17kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: SW (AM) SW (PM
  • Sea State: 1(AM) 5 (PM)
  • Roll out: 0935hrs Dock Out: 1030hrs
  • Dock In: 1500hrs Crane out: 1540hrs
  • Total Tacks: 2 - Fully foiling: 1; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 1
  • Total Gybes: 5 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 3

Crew: Driving Group: Arnaud Psarofaghis, Dean Barker, Nicolas Charbonnier, Yves Detrey, Bryan Mettraux, Pietro Sibello, Matias Buhler | Power Group: Nicolas Rolaz, Arthur Cevey, Nils Theuninck, Augustin Maillefer

American Magic - AC75 Version 2 - Pensacola

American Magic enjoyed another day of blue skies, flat water and what looked to be a useful breeze, but according to the Recon Team's report, conditions only allowed Patriot to make five unassisted takeoffs, with nine more being down under tow from the chase boat.

Star signing, Olympic Gold Medalist and 2013 America's Cup winner Tom Slingsby was back on board for his second day of sailing on an AC75, along with other new sailing squad members who are coming up to speed.

"Our focus was making the most of the wind conditions, we had a early breeze that was dying. And so we started really early to take advantage of that," Cooper Dressler told the AC37 Joint Recon team dockside after the training session.

The cyclor positions were back on board today, having been absent for the first day after patriot emerged from an 11 day stint in the shed.

"We had a big focus today on the power system onboard. So we are using manual power, or human produced force input devices," Dessler explained. "It's a little bit different than the last time so we were we were focused heavily on that today."

"Today was a big win in the power scheme of things, because the mechanical systems are working well. Once we had all four positions with cyclists onboard, we were able to meet the power demands of the boat"

"One of our guys on the team said it perfectly today," he said. "The more oil you produce, the more the boat will take. You're always going to be somewhat compromised when you're producing oil in this fashion, by human power. It's a big factor in how you design the boat and how you optimize all of your sail controls going forward," he added.

The weather in Pensacola may prove to be a growing issue for Patriot. While the balmy conditions are great vacation weather, but there is a limit as to what can be achieved in winds of under 10kts. The other America's Cup teams are getting a lot greater variation in wind and sea state. American Magic is expected to move to Barcelona as soon as their permanent base is ready.

On-Water Recon Unit Notes: Patriot sailed approximately 33nm (the majority of which were in the first hour of sailing). Six up/down wind legs. Adjustments were made to the clew area of the main after the completion of every leg. Cooper states in the interview that the cyclists were able to keep up with the power requirements today. Patriot's initial take-off was self, four more self-take-offs were observed. The breeze died off to around 5k by around 11:15, requiring the remaining take off's to be towed. Total take off's self-5, towed-9.

Session Statistics - Pensacola, Fl - November 1, 2022 - American Magic - AC75 Version 2

  • Wind Strength 10kts (AM) 6kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: NNE(AM) NE (PM)
  • Sea State: Slight (PM)
  • Roll out: 0651hrs Dock Out: 0825hrs
  • Dock In: 1309hrs Crane out: 1400hrs
  • Total Tacks: 22 - Fully foiling: 10; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 8
  • Total Gybes: 7 - Fully foiling: 4; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 3

Crew: Tom Slingsby, Paul Goodison, Riley Gibbs, Dan Morris, Trevor Burd, Cooper Dressler and friends

Additional Images:

This commentary was written and compiled from video, still images and statistical content extracted from the AC37 Joint Recon program and other material available to Sail-World NZ including photo files, and other on the water coverage from the 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2021 America's Cups.

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