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Cup Spy - April 21: Swiss test AC75.. Update on Prelim Regatta #2 .. Glenn Ashby exit?

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 23 Apr 2023 06:09 PDT 24 April 2023
Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 55 - April 21, 2023 - Barcelona © Alex Carabi / America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - April 21, 20233:

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed their AC75 off Barcelona after damaging the rudder box in March.
  • INEOS Britannia was the only team to sail a 40fter, enjoying a good session in Palma in fresh winds.
  • Two interviews in mainstream media with three times America's Cup winner Glenn Ashby claim that he will not be part of the ETNZ sailing crew for the 2024 America's Cup. (See commentary piece below).
  • The fortunes of the second America's Cup Preliminary Regatta continue to take some intriguing twists and turns. (See commentary piece below).

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 55 - April 21, 2023 - Barcelona

From the AC37 Joint Recon team:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC75 at 08:50 to work on a series of in-water systems tests ahead of a commissioning day at sea for the works done over the last month. Considerate attention was spent on the mast base and the cyclor system.

The team docked out at 12:00, with the M1 mainsail raised in port and the J1 jib outside the Forum. Tell tales have been added to head and leech. The Garbi thermal wind came through as forecast, with wind at 10 knots from the South, clocking slowly to the South South West and settling at 16:00, increasing to 13+ knots by the end of the session.

A ground swell was present, growing from 0.5m to 0.8m with a 0.5s period made added to the difficulty of the day for the team.

Much of the time on the water was spent testing systems that have been upgraded, with the team splitting the day into four sailing stints, each not more than 30 minutes long, as they commissioned the new components. The quality of sailing was below usual standard after a month off the AC75 and mostly sailing the AC40, though the standard improved as the day progressed.

The team spent almost five hours on the water from dock out to dock in, covering a total of 50 NM. A total of 24 maneuvers were performed, 21% fully foiling. Speeds were in excess of 40 knots downwind. This is the first week that Alinghi Red Bull Racing have rolled out everyday from Monday to Friday. Weekend off.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 55 - April 21, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Wind Strength: 7-13kts
  • Wind Direction: SSW
  • Weather: Sunny 15°C
  • Sea State: Slight
  • Roll out: 0910hrs Dock Out: 1200hrs
  • Dock In: 1645hrs Crane out: 1715hrs
  • Total Tacks: 12; Fully foiling: 3; Touch & Go: 7; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 12; Fully foiling: 2; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 6

Sailing Crew: Arnaud Psarofaghis (10) , Nicolas Charbonnier (04) , Maxime Bachelin (01), Yves Detrey (07) , Lucien Cujean (05) , Nicolas Rolaz (11).

Power Group:Nils Theuninck (13) , Nico Stahlberg (15) , Augustin Maillefer () , Florian Trub (14) , Thery Schir (12) , Barnabe Delarze ()

INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Day 39 - April 21, 2023 - Mallorca

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

A late rollout (1130) and dockout (1330) today for the British America's Cup team was presumably to let the forecast south westerly sea breeze establish itself.

Certainly by the time the T6 LEQ12 test boat was towed out of the harbour and on to foils for a blast across to the easterly side of Palma Bay the wind was already in double figures and was kicking up a short steep chop.

The team hoisted sails (M1-2 mainsail and J4-1 headsail) close to the marina and yacht club at S'Arenal and by 1445 were powering upwind at speeds in the high twenties and early thirties.

After a fast (35+ knots downwind with a couple of slick gybes the boat came to a stop, possibly to remove what looked like a small palstic bag hooked on the w-foil. It was no more than a five minute break before the yacht was airborne again and after a short upwind the crew – helmsmen Giles Scott and Dylan Fletcher with flight controllers Bleddyn Mon and Leigh McMillan – were ripping upwind to round a windward mark at the top of a practice racecourse that featured two leeward gate marks.

After 45 minutes of fast laps and solid mark roundings the boat fell off the foils coming upwind and the chase boat was quickly along side to repair a minor issue with the mainsheet traveller.

What followed was a practice start where T6 made a fast entry to the imaginary start box at the port end of the line (looking upwind) before quickly gybing and heading past the starboard mark and then turning downwind before gybing to make a timed run to start a boatlength up from the pin end of the mine.

Several more fast laps followed before the crew returned to the eastern shore to drop sails by 1700.

A long foiling tow in saw the team dock in at 1715.

Session Statistics: INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Day 39 - April 21, 2023 - Mallorca

  • Weather: Sunny 19° - 21° C
  • Wind Strength 14-16kts Flat sea
  • Wind Direction: 210-220°
  • Roll out: 1130hrs Dock Out: 1330hrs
  • Dock In: 1715hrs Crane out: 1800hrs
  • Total Tacks: 18 - Fully foiling: 17; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 12 - Fully foiling: 11; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 1


Glenn Ashby to pursue other options:

Two interviews in mainstream media over the weekend with three times America's Cup winner Glenn Ashby claim that he will not be part of the ETNZ sailing crew for the 2024 America's Cup.

One claims he will maybe have a tilt at a world wind powered waterspeed record (which is about half the 225km/h record Ashby and ETNZ set in February, which has only just been announced). And that he may do another landspeed record to lift it by another 10km - a little hard to believe given that the team should now be focused on its 2024 America's Cup program.

It was clear in the excellent Land of Speed documentary that team boss, Grant Dalton was not pleased as to how long the team were staying in Australia waiting for a lake to dry, and that an end would have to be called in the near future. Ashby played for one last chance and got his weather window, set the record, and then in a piece of serendipity set a second record when they returned to pack up Horonuku for return to NZ.

As one who has run a practical sail making and development program for a couple of decades at least, geared mainly around apparent wind high performance classes (A-class catamaran), and a successful America's Cup involvement (2010, 2017 and 2021 America's Cups), Ashby provides a strong practical understanding of how high performance rigs work, and is a strong interface between the practical sailing and rig design teams.

It is hard to understand why there is not a role in the design/coaching team for Ashby's talents and practical experience, given that sailmaking at the top level has always been as much an art as it is a science. In this regard Ashby provided a nice offset to the boffins in charge of the engine above, as does Guillaume Verdier on other aspects of the hull and high performance side of the team. It was the lack of an experienced yacht designer in the team, like Laurie Davidson, who had oversight of the basics, which led to the Kiwi catastrophe in the 2003 Cup.

Plus of course there is the option of using Ashby to coach the Youth and Womens America's Cup teams - which are the talent feeder for future America's Cup teams, and coach those sailors from the Olympic one-design world across to the high performance of rules restricted America's Cup sails and rigs. Ashby has a lot of experience in the restricted rigs and classes - which are quite a different approach from the so-called one design, controlled/monopoly building process that is way of the Olympic classes and their sailors. A question to the team, by Sail-World, in mid-February as to Ashby's future, given he wasn't featuring in crew lists being filed by the AC37 Joint Recon team, went unanswered. It later transpired that Ashby was in Australia having another tilt at the landspeed record at that time.

Beyond the rarefied atmosphere of the America's Cup, Ashby would appear to have several strong options - and maybe the time is right to exit/make longer term plans and enjoy the array of enviable toys Ashby has in his garage - of what we glimpsed in Land of Speed.

Time running out fast for second Preliminary Regatta announcement

The fortunes of the second America's Cup Preliminary Regatta continue to take some intriguing twists and turns.

Leading Italian sailing correspondent, Fabio Pozzo who has run a series of stories on the twists and turns in the six month saga to sign the Region of Sardinia to host the second AC40 regatta, provided an update on Saturday. He confirmed the players involved in the hurriedly established Brindisi bid, which seems to have attracted the right people and organisations, but without the ready money to tip into funding pot.

We have seen the bureaucrats kill many a hosting opportunity against the bidding of their political masters.

Hopefully those involved in the Brindisi bid - of which America's Cup Event first became aware through reports in the Italian media - will learn from history. However time is against them, with a Protocol amendment pushing the announcement of a second venue to April 30, 2023 - next Sunday. That regattas will come after the first named Vilanova i la Geltrú which is in the same province of Catalonia region, as Barcelona, the host for the 37th America's Cup Match in August - October 2024.

Maybe not surprisingly having made the decision on the Cup, it only took Vilanova i la Geltrú and the Region of Barcelona, four weeks to make the hosting decision. La Stampa has it that the second Preliminary Regatta hosting net is being thrown in the direction of the Middle East region, where bureaucrats do follow the decision made by the ruling Royal Families - and quickly.

In the time that has lapsed since the elimination of Jeddah as a 2024 America's Cup venue, SailGP has sailed out of Dubai in UAE in Season 3, and have announced a return for 2024.

Watch this space.

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. Its format is intended to give Sail-World readers a snap shot of all teams' progress on a given day, or period.

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