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Henri-Lloyd 2022 December - SW LEADERBOARD

Cup Spy Feb 7 : Serious racing begins in the AC-40's - who won?

by Richard Gladwell/ 8 Feb 00:45 PST 7 February 2023
Emirates Team New Zealand - LEQ12 (nearest camera) and AC-40 OD - February 7, 2023 - Eastern Beach, Auckland NZ © Adam Mustill / America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - Feb 7, 2023:

  • INEOS Britannia sailed on Tuesday out of Mallorca, with Ben Ainslie again on the helm, as the team pushes on with its test program.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand sailed their two AC40's on Tuesday, and are combining match racing, with speed testing and bringing new sailing team members up to speed. They will officially launch their two AC-40's at a ceremony tomorrow (Thursday)
  • Luna Rossa did not sail.
  • American Magic have decommissioned their AC75 and will not start training again until the beginning of March
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing last sailed out of Barcelona on February 1
  • Orient Express Team (formerly French K-Challenge) - no update.

Emirates Team NZ - LEQ12 - Auckland - February 7, 2022 - Day 15

From the AC37 Joint Recon Team [Alastair Moore AC-Recon]:

A new week, new conditions. The breeze had switched around to the South West flattening the sea sate and clearing the humidity.

A two boat day with the AC40 coming out of the shed at 11.25 and both boats in the pen with sails loaded by 12.30. At 13.00 both yachts were towed outside the basin and turned head to to hoist sails.

The Recon boat picked up the LEQ12 just before North Head where she was foiling nicely down wind with a J2 set. She did several gybes down towards Salt Works off Rangitoto’s Western shore then beat back up towards Bean Rock where she was joined by the AC40 to sail in close company down to the back paddock just off Eastern Beach.

Here a short windward leeward course of about 1 mile was set with with the bottom gate set wide to double as a start line. After 2 laps sailed apart the first pre start was at 14.50 with the second at 14.55 leading into a 2 lap race. The LEQ12 was a good 10 seconds late at the boat end with the AC40 in full one design mode on time at the pin.

Over the duration of the two laps the LEQ12 gradually closed the gap and by gybing early on the last run finished easily in front. They then proceeded on a long run in company down to the Southern shore of Waiheke Island heading for about Kennedy Point. The yachts now hardened up for a port making board one sided beat home.

Quite often the AC40 looked faster but I did see the LEQ12 trying some extreme pitch (bow down) and heel to leeward angles.

The Head of the LEQ12 main looks flatter than the AC40 and sometimes up range looks to be mildly inverted in the top 1/4 on the leeward side, Moore reported.

2016 Olympic Bronze medalist in the then Laser class, Sam Meech, is one of the newer recruits to Emirates Team NZ's sailing team. Alastair Moore from the AC37 Joint Recon team spoke with him after the session, and asked for his impression of the day's training and testing.

"It was fantastic, it's quite nice to get some lighter breeze," Meech replied. "We've had pretty solid wind and rain over the last couple of weeks. [Auckland has suffered a series of days of wind blowing over 30kts.] It was good to get out there and have wins of 14-17 knots.

Part of the day's session consisted of setting up a short course, with a couple of prestarts - the first time that the AC-40's had gone head to head in this America's Cup cycle.

Meech says that as a sail trimmer for the day didn't see a lot. "I was pretty much heads down just trying to follow what Josh was doing to me," he said. "But it's so much fun. And it's a great start to have these boats being out racing. It's pretty exciting for the World Series and using them for the America's Cup," he added. `.

After striking debris on their last sail, Meech said they were keeping an eye out, but didn't see too much of concern.

As with the other teams, on its LEQ12, the Kiwis have different wingfoils on the port and starboard foil arms. Of particular interest has been the new curved anhedral foil. Meech was asked if the sailors could see much difference between the performance of the one design and test boat, referencing the straight line race (5nm) they had back from Motuihe to the team base in downtown Auckland, after the conclusion of the session. (The hookup was captured in Justin Michell's video. The AC40 One-Design is the windward boat, and leads the LEQ12 home.)

"At times, they seem pretty similar. We are still getting used to the boat [ETNZ's second AC-40] We're pretty far behind on days [AC40-1 was launched just before Christmas.] But we're getting getting better as a team. The boats are reasonably similar in performance," Meech says.

Session Statistics - Emirates Team NZ - LEQ12 - Auckland - February 7, 2022 - Day 15

    • Wind Strength 10-18kts
    • Wind Direction: SW
    • Sea State: Slight
    • Roll out: 1200hrs Dock Out: 1300hrs
    • Dock In: 1635hrs Crane out: 1655hrs
    • Total Tacks: 37 - Fully foiling: 32; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 1
    • Total Gybes: 29 - Fully foiling: 27; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 0

    Crew: (LEQ12 Nathan Outteridge, Peter Burling) (AC40 Liv Mackay, Leonard Takahashi, Josh Junior) (LEQ12 Andy Maloney, Blair Tuke) (AC40 Sam Meech, Marcus Hansen)

    INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Mallorca - February 7, 2023 - Day 23

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

    In an indication of just how valuable every hour of testing time is to the British America’s Cup team right now, the INEOS Britannia squad rolled out their T6 LEQ12 out of the shed at 0800 this rainy Tuesday morning in order to squeeze in a 90 minute foiling session before a gnarly-looking weather front rolled over Palma Bay mid-afternoon.

    With Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott at the helming stations and Luke Parkinson and Bleddyn Mon on sail trim and flight control, at 1100 the silver 40-footer was towed 20 minutes with mainsail and J2 across mirror flat seas to the far south west corner of the bay.

    After waiting around patiently for an hour the crew called for a bow tow and were immediately foiling comfortably in seven knots of breeze. With the wind steadily ramping up to around 12 knots but the sea remaining flat, the crew put the boat through its paces at a variety of wind angles, along with several slick looking foiling tacks and gybes. On the team’s larger chase boat, Coach Xavi Fernadez seemed particularly interested in the sail plan in downwind mode.

    Upwind, we observed the boat being sailed several times with some windward heel and a slightly bow down pitch. A technical issue (explained later as a minor hydraulic oil leak by Scott) and a darkening sky marking the early onset of the forecast weather front saw the team down sails at just after 1400 – roughly an hour earlier than we estimate they would have wanted to.

    After the session Justin Chisholm spoke with a co-helmsman for the team, double Olympic Gold medalist, Giles Scott.

    "The session was a little bit shorter than what we planned," Scott explained.

    "But the weather has come in now - there's a there's a big front rolling through. So finishing early is maybe not the end of the world."

    The British team went out on the water and sat around waiting for the breeze to fill in and then got about 90 minutes of sailing, before a technical issue arose, later disclosed to be an oil leak "downstairs", which caused the shortened session.

    Today the Brits did what many teams have been doing - switching between two jib sizes in order to establish the crossover wind speed. In the 2021 Cup the teams left jib selection until the last possible moment, and if in doubt went down a size. The logic being that it was easier to compensate a loss in power by grunting up the mainsail, but if the jib was bigger then required for the conditions, then the addition drag could not be shed, and slowed the boat.

    "Predominantly size is the main difference between the jibs," Scott said. "These yachts are really sensitive to area changes. Today we've been sailing with mostly a J1 and a J3. We've filled the filled the gap with another code [J2].

    "The differences between the J2 and J1 aren't that massive. It's still quite a light wind sail. But as I say, the boats are very sensitive. So with every code, code change, there's there's slight differences," he added.

    Before Christmas, and soon after T6 as the British prototype is called, skipper Ben Ainslie said the LEQ12 was not 100% operational.

    Scott says the gap is closing, but they are still not there yet. "It's getting closer, but we've still got some reasonably big ticket items that we know we've got to go to iron out. We'll be looking to do that over the over the coming weeks. It's a bit of a balancing act between getting good time on the water, collecting that key information that the design team need for decisions for RB3 [Race Boat 3 or the team's 2024 AC75]. So that's really the juggling act we're playing at the moment."

    Some commentators, Cup Spy included, look a little askance at the 12 metre long prototypes being used for testing and wonder how well they cross over into the AC75.

    "It is good fun to sail, Says Scott. "It is amazing how similar in a lot of ways they do feel like the bigger boats. But that being said they are a lot smaller and obviously not not not quite as not quite as powerful. But T6 is a great learning tool for us."

    For some reason skipper Ben Ainslie was coy about saying what top speed was reached in T6 yesterday, despite saying that it was a new mark, and that other teams and their stalkers (Recon Teams) regularly reveal any new speed that is significant - top speed or otherwise.

    Scott wouldn't elaborate too much on how much faster the 2024 AC75's are going to be than their 2021 predecessors, except to say: "I think a lot of it will depend on where teams decide to put foil design. The [new] boats is certainly going to be quick and they're going to be a lot quicker around the course that's for sure." He hung back from making a prediction on the new top speed for an AC75 (which all teams will know from their performance prediction software).

    Session Statistics - Mallorca - February 7, 2023 - INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Day 23

    • Weather: Cloudy with showers 12° C
    • Wind Strength 3-12kts Flat sea
    • Wind Direction: 330°
    • Roll out: 0849hrs Dock Out: 1032hrs
    • Dock In: 1449hrs Crane out: 1530hrs
    • Total Tacks: 7 - Fully foiling: 4; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 3
    • Total Gybes: 3 - Fully foiling: 3; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

    Crew: Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott, Luke Parkinson and Bledyn Mon

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