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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Cup Spy Feb 1/2 : Kiwis, Brits, Swiss, French, Americans in the spotlight

by Richard Gladwell/ 3 Feb 02:10 PST 3 February 2023
Emirates Team New Zealand - Two boat testing - AC40 - Hauraki Gulf - February 2, 2023 © Adam Mustill / America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - Feb 1/2, 2023:

  • The French K-Challenge held a media conference in Paris and announced they have a partnered with a naming sponsor Accor Group and will be known as Orient Express Team. They will also partner with Emirates Team New Zealand for an AC75 design and other technology package.
  • INEOS Britannia sailed on both days (Feb 1 & 2) out of Mallorca.
  • American Magic wanted to sail, but the wouldn't co-operate, so the session ended prematurely
  • Emirates Team New Zealand sailed their two AC40's
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed out of Barcelona on February 1, in lighter winds and more subdued seas and hit some good speeds.
  • Luna Rossa did not sail

French K-Challenge announcement:

Like with their last America's Cup challenge, also sailed in Spain, the K-Challenge has rebadged itself.

In the 2007 America's Cup, the Dawn Riley managed K-Challenge were sponsored by Areva, the nuclear power company.

This time K-Challenge's naming sponsor is Accor Group, who will use their brand Orient Express as the title partner of the official French challenger, which will be known as the Orient Express Team. The multi national hotelier using the America's Cup to signal its entry into the ultra-luxury sailing ship market. Four of hotelier's competitors are already in that new offering.

The group has ordered two 220metre long, 54 luxury cabin sailing ships from French shipbuilder Chantiers de l'Atlantique. Construction will start in 2023 with a launch in 2026.

The vessels are hydrogen and sail powered and are described as a "fully clean yacht". The two power modes neatly embrace those of the 2024 America's Cup where each team is required to have at least one hydrogen powered foiling chase boat, and the AC75 class that is used features a double skinned mainsail rig, with a jib - similar to that of the Orient Express Silenseas.

There was plenty of Gallic bonhomie at the announcement at the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, a museum of architecture and monumental sculpture established in Paris nine years after the first Match for the America's Cup.

For their part Sebastien Bazen, Chairman and CEO of Accor made the unsurprising comment that holding of the America's Cup in Europe was a "huge driver". Bazen also made the comment that Accor Group would not be involved in the America's Cup project were it not for the event being expanded to cover the Youth and Womens America's Cups.

However he as not so forthcoming when asked if Accor's involvement would cover two America's Cup cycles. "Let's start with the first, before we move on doing the second," was his succinct response.

While the Orient Express Team may have some obvious shortcomings, they are the only America's Cup team to be also running a team on the SailGP circuit. Skipper designate, Quentin Delapierre, in a recent informal poll of the SailGP skippers was voted the most improved talent on the Season 3 SailGP circuit. The France SailGP and America's Cup teams are co-managed by Bruno Dubois, who also managed Dongfeng Race Team, the French/China Volvo Ocean Race team, winners of the 2017 Volvo Ocean Race.

The session was long on good will, but short on detail - some of which was confirmed in a later media release by the French team.

A short video aired during the announcement comprised a mix of France SailGP, 2021 America's Cup and the Groupama Team France challenge for the 2017 America's Cup in Bermuda. Franck Cammas, a top trans oceanic sailor, Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper - all under the Groupama sponsorship will be part of the design team for the Orient Express Team.

The French government have had a Minister of Sea since the early 1980's. The incumbent Annick Girardin, was prominent and very animated at the Orient Express Team announcement, and it would seem that the SailGP and America's Cup teams will be show-cased by the French government.

The French Challenger has a partnership with the New Zealand Defender - a style of relationship which has previously been taken to the International Jury, claiming that by providing a base design to a Challenger, the Defender would be able to bench mark their design's performance, during the Challenger Selection Series.

Quite what that partnership covers has not been made public. While there is no shortage of expertise in France for the construction and sailing of high performance sailing race boats, the America's Cup Class is a breed apart, and especially so given the late entry and start of the Orient Express Team.

Leading international high performance designer Guillaume Verdier (FRA) has been a key part of the Emirates Team New Zealand design team since 2010. Verdier has enjoyed the freedom to work in both the America's Cup and produce some of the top trans-oceanic high performance raceboats of the last decade or so. The French connection with foiling was linked back to the radical 60ft foiler l'Hydroptère, designed in 1994, which briefly hit 56kts in a speed run in 2009 before capsizing.

It was revealed that Orient Express would be sailing an AC40 in the coming European summer from Barcelona. It is expected that the team will take the unallocated sixth base site in Barcelona.

The team is looking to rent an AC75 for training after its session in the AC40, this summer. That raised the question as to whether part of the partnership with the Kiwis involved the loan of their 2021 America's Cup champion Te Rehutai, an option that Dubois was quick to dismiss as not being the only AC75 available. "There's lots of other boats available" he replied. "We have more surprises, and more announcements to make more sense in the weeks to come," he added.

Aloise Retronaz, Bronze medal winner in the Womens 470 event at Tokyo2020, has been named as the skipper of the Orient Express team to contest the Womens America's Cup. The Youth team skipper was not named. It is expected that all three crews will be drawn from the expanded ranks of the France SailGP team.

INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Mallorca - February 2, 2023 - Day 20

Top sailing journalist, Justin Chisholm was on the water and made various observations on the new additions on the British boat:

INEOS Britannia's 20th sailing day proved to be another valuable one for the British syndicate.

This was due in no insignificant way to the skills of their meteorology team, who judged the battle between the offshore and onshore wind bands to perfection over the day.

This enabled the crew of the British T6 LEQ12 - helmsmen Giles Scott and Ben Cornish, trimmers/flight controllers Leigh McMillan and Luke Parkinson (swapped out in the afternoon for Bleddyn Mon) - to enjoy a two hour fast and furious opening session in a westerly 14 knot wind with a choppy sea state offshore, before towing back into the bay to take advantage of a solid 10 knots from 330 degrees.

So confident were the team of the wind forecast that the J3 headsail was hoisted first thing and stayed up all day.

As usual, on the crew's agenda was a mixture of straight line data gathering runs at various wind angles and flight heights, as well as plenty of foiling tacks and gybes, turn-ups, and bear ways - including one particular turn down that saw the chase boats powering along at over 40 knots as the tried to keep up.

A suspected technical glitch very late in the day saw sails come down shortly after 1630.

This may perhaps have been an hour earlier than planned, but there's no doubt the British squad will be all smiles after another successful day on the water.

Session Statistics - Mallorca - February 2, 2022 - INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Day 20

  • Wind Strength 6kts(AM) 9-14kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: 240 degreesS (AM) 330 degrees (PM)
  • Roll out: 1000hrs Dock Out: 1200hrs
  • Dock In: 1715hrs Crane out: 1745hrs
  • Total Tacks: 7 - Fully foiling: 4; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 1
  • Total Gybes: 7 - Fully foiling: 4; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Giles Scott, Ben Cornish, Leigh McMillan and Luke Parkinson (later swapped for Bleddyn Mon)

INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Mallorca - February 1, 2023 - Day 19

Top sailing journalist, Justin Chisholm was on the water and made various observations on the British boat:

Palma Bay served up a spectacular set of perfect data gathering conditions aboard the British LEQ12.

The winds was in the range 8-12 knots over the day, starting at 190 degrees and moving steadily right over the day to 210 degrees. Sea state was pleasantly flat making for easy take-offs.

The boat looked to be in normal configuration with the frequently seen pair of masthead GPS aerials. New though was an extended wand for the windex on the stub bowsprit. T

he crew took full advantage of the conditions and after one tow up in the early light winds at the beginning of the afternoon session executed multiple airborne laps of the bay pulling off multiple foiling tacks and gybes as well as fast round ups and bear aways. Later in the day - after changing down from the J1 to the J3 the boat was spotted sailing in a pronounced bow up inclination - resulting once in a significant splash down.

Other than a brief issue with the headsail halyard lock the boat looked to be performing very well with the crew seemingly able to pull off whatever was required to tick off the testing list. The longest airborne run was an impressive 48 minutes.

Session Statistics - Mallorca - February 1, 2023 - INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Day 19

  • Weather: Sunny 8-12° C
  • Wind Strength 8kts(AM) 11-12kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: 190 degrees(AM) 240 degrees(PM)
  • Roll out: 1037hrs Dock Out: 1201hrs
  • Dock In: 1751hrs Crane out: 1820hrs
  • Total Tacks: 9 - Fully foiling: 2; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 3
  • Total Gybes: 9 - Fully foiling: 4; Touch & Go: 5; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Giles Scott, Ben Ainslie (later swapped out for Leigh McMillan), Iain Jensen and Bleddyn Mon (later swapped out for Luke Parkinson)

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Barcelona - February 1, 2023 - Day 42

From the AC37 Joint Recon team:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out at 07:15, craned in the AC75 and carried out standard systems tests at the dock, including foil arms, mast rotation and communications.

The team's AC40, now unwrapped, was pulled out of its tent and taken into the shed to be worked on while the AC75 would be out sailing.

The wind was lighter today, making the sailing area under the city unsuitable, therefore the yacht was towed towards the sailing area by the airport. The waves were conflicting with residuary North East swell, creating a sharp chop, but calmed down by midday.

The team spent almost five hours on the water, again covering over 60 Nautical Miles and seeing speeds of 45 knots.

Over three upwind/downwind and reaching stints, the team attempted a total of 37 foiling tacks and gybes, as well as roundings and bearaways (no physical marks were used).

The team are still slightly consistent with tacking/gybing from port to starboard, than from starboard to port. This is due to the difference in foils on either side, with the American Magic legacy foil seeming more comfortable when manoeuvring.

The wind slowly decreased by midday, at which point the J3 was dropped for the J2.

ARBR utilised these lighter conditions of the final stint to switch Starboard helm, Arnaud Psarofaghis, for the youngest member of the driving team, Maxime Bachelin. Maxime sailed the yacht well and attempted a few foiling manoeuvres, improving with time behind the wheel.

An end to the session was called after another intense day of long sailing stints; the sails were dropped outside the Southern Freeport entrance and the yacht was towed back to base.

Session Statistics - Barcelona, Spain - February 1, 2023 - Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 42

  • Wind Strength: 12-15kts(AM); 9-11kts(PM)
  • Wind Direction: NW (AM) NW (PM)
  • Weather: Sunny 8 degreesC
  • Sea State: 3 (AM); 1mtr easterly swell
  • Roll out: 0745hrs Dock Out: 0910hrs
  • Dock In: 1355hrs Crane out: 1415hrs
  • Total Tacks: 18; Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 10; Touch Down: 8
  • Total Gybes: 19; Fully foiling: 1; Touch & Go: 10; Touch Down: 8

Crew: Driving team: Arnaud Psarofaghis, Pietro Sibello, Lucian Cujean, Nicolas Charbonnier, Maxime Bachelin, Yves Detrey, Bryan Mettraux (Maxime exchanged helm with Arnaud after midday.) Power Team: Arthur Cevey, Nico Rolaz

Emirates Team NZ - LEQ12 - Auckland - February 2, 2022 - Day 13

First the AC40 (AC40-3)rolled out of the shed, 7.30 on the dot. She was rigged and lifted into the pen in approximately 30 minutes.

The LEQ12 (AC40-1) got towed out of the shed by the Toyota forklift at 8am and was floating next to her stablemate at 8.23 am.

The AC40 left the dock first followed closely by the LEQ12. Main and J2s were set taking about 20 minutes.

The Recon boat departed the yachts and chaseboats to pick them up again at the end of the speed restriction zone off Mechanics bay.

Epic to see two boats charging towards us in 10-12 knots as they sailed a one sided beat transiting to the "Back paddock" area (Course E fron m the 2021 AC).

With each race yacht having a dedicated chase boat, a mark set/media boat, the VIP Chase Zero and us it made for a very busy 3 hours 25 minutes.

Once on the paddock a 2nm windward leeward course was set, both yachts shadowed each other around the course with one run having no less than 9 quality gybes from the LEQ12.

Not known if the AC40 was in auto pilot but from the small amount of attention paid to her, I felt the new crew on the AC40 are still coming up to speed a bit.

A couple of poorly executed or maybe rushed lee bow tacks were observed, then two successive lee bow tacks were observed.

Several small stops were recorded, one at least to check/adjust the clew on the new J2. The reach home was a spectacle, the two boats being driven hard with the AC40 just ahead and to leeward with the LEQ12 2-3 boat lengths to windward and one or two aft of the AC40's breeze. Both boats over 40 knots at times.

The LEQ12 on her anhedral (port) foil looks to have another gear, low and fast and high with turbo pace.

Session Statistics - Emirates Team NZ - LEQ12 - Auckland - February 2, 2022 - Day 13

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