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Cup Spy - May 24: Robertson joins the Swiss? Teams step up match racing practice.

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 25 May 17:39 PDT 26 May 2023
INEOS Britannia Team - Day 52 - T6 (LEQ12) passing two J-class off Mallorca - May 24, 2023 © Ugo Fonolla / America's Cup

Four teams sailed on Wednesday, May 24 from Auckland, Mallorca, and Cagliari. Alinghi Red Bull Racing christened their new AC40-7, and took it for a tow-test off Barcelona. Top Match Racer and SailGP helm, Phil Robertson (NZL) was again present, for his second visit - this time dressed in an Alinghi Red Bull Racing uniform.

Most teams seem to be combining their speed work with match racing practice - using a chase boat as their opponent - except the Kiwis have assembled a match racing crew who would have trained against the AC75 crew, yesterday in AC-40's had the wind co-operated. Skipper of the match racing team, Josh Junior revealed that the team are sailing the AC40 using the autopilot for flight control - are they doing the same on the AC75, with its near perfect flight control? It would seem that the Defenders are taking a similar development approach with the 2024 Cup that served them well in the 2017 and 2021 wins - to get the boat sailing as fast as possible using methods not permitted in the rules, and then expecting the sailing team to learn how to reach the same benchmarks using methods that are within the rules for manual control in the Cup racing.

What happened in the Cup - May 24-25, 2023:

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed their new AC40-7, after it was officially christened. Top matchracer and SailGP helmsman, Phil Robertson made a second visit to the team - this time dressed in Alinghi Red Bull Racing uniform, but stayed on the team tender.
  • Luna Rossa sailed from Cagliari, in the fresh easterly breeze, having resolved their "noise" issue of the previous day, and did a mix of speed work along with some match racing practice against the chase boat.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand went out in a moderate breeze with their "second" crew, who seem to be positioned as a match racing crew to pitch against the "A-Team", who have been heavily involved with the AC75 testing program who are mostly from a 49er and fleet racing background. The session saw the Match-Racing team go through some intensive maneuvers doing 103 tacks and gybes for a 97% dry tack/gybe percentage.
  • INEOS Britannia spent a five hour session in a breeze which was mostly around 15-17kts, but with some lulls. Like the Italians the British session consisted of a mix of speed work ending with some match racing maneuvers.
  • American Magic has not sailed since May 10 and is in transit to their permanent base in Barcelona. No decision has been posted regarding their believed claim for exemption to not compete in the second Preliminary Event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on safety grounds.
  • No further news from the Orient Express Team (formerly K-Challenge).
  • None of the teams sailed on Thursday, May 25.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40-7 - Day 2 - May 24, 2023 - Barcelona

From the AC37 Joint Recon team:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their new AC40-7 at 09:20 and stepped the mast to be officially christened by Elena Saez, with all members of the team together on the forecourt. The yacht was craned in at 10:00 and the team docked out two hours later, after a series of preliminary commissioning tests. (more below)

The M1-1 OD mainsail and J2-1 jib were hoisted in port for a short testing period, before dropping the sails and off-loading them at the base.

Further commissioning was carried out as the yacht was then towed North along the coast for 3.5NM before turning back to base.

The yacht is not yet complete, with the media/info post on the stern or deck grip and stickers not ready for example, so further commissioning is to be expected.

Photoshoots with sailing gear manufacturer, Sail Racing, continued after commissioning.

Phil Robertson was back at the base today, dressed in official Alinghi Red Bull Racing kit, joining the team in celebrating the launch of the new AC40.

He was on board Chase Alpha during the tow testing. It is not clear what his role in the team is just yet.

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40-7 - Day 2 - May 24, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 18° C Sunny
  • Wind Strength <10kts Flat sea
  • Wind Direction: 180°
  • Roll out: 1000hrs Dock Out: 1200hrs
  • Dock In: 1315hrs Crane out: 1430hrs
  • Total Tacks: 0
  • Total Gybes: 0

  • Crew: Nicolas Charbonnier, Maxime Bachelin, Yves Detrey, Nicolas Rolaz, Barnabé Delarze

    Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Day 62 - May 24, 2023 - Cagliari

    From the AC37 Joint Recon Team - Michele Melis:

    The Italian LEQ12 rolled out at 10:30 and the mast was quickly stepped for craning onto the yacht in by 10:50.

    The usual protocol checks followed and dockout was scheduled at 11:45 with the team eager to tick off the boxes of the previous sailing day.

    Similar to the latter, the forecast models showed some steady SE "Sirocco" breeze of 13-17kn with the respective choppy seastate ramping up quickly in the afternoon.

    As the breeze was already filling in at the dock, the team swapped to M2 mainsail instead of M1 expecting higher pressure.

    Chase2 towed the LEQ12 just off of the harbour piers when the mainsail was being hoisted in 12-14kn SSE and then paired with the J2 jib.

    The choppy seastate seemed to increase over the day with short period wave of approximately 0.7m height from SE.

    Within the whole sailing day, the LEQ12 was boarded by six crew and once all set the yacht was up and foiling on portside tack by 12:15 sailing mostly straight line for testing including four maneuvers in the first 20 minutes.

    Chase-2 dropped four marks setting up a 1nm race course with leeward and windward gates and the LEQ12 began an intensive race practice with the chazcat providing some interference.

    Chase-1 was observed engaging the prototype within legs and even on some prestarts practices with time on distance inducing some match race decision making onboard. Between several breaks in which the sailors seemed to debrief, a total of 5 prestarts have been observed with approximately 5 upwind and 6 downwind legs.

    As the call for the end of the training day was made, the prototype performed two final round-ups around the only mark left by Chase2. For the day, a total foiling time of 98 out of 210 minutes with 24 tacks, 21 gybes and a number of mark round up manuevers. [Michele Melis AC Recon].

    Session Statistics: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Day 62 - May 24, 2023 - Cagliari

    • Weather: Cloudy 16°F
    • Wind Strength 9-13kts
    • Wind Direction: ESE
    • Sea State: Choppy
    • Roll out: 1050hrs Dock Out: 1145hrs
    • Dock In: 1520hrs Crane out: 1700hrs
    • Total Tacks: 24 - Fully foiling: 17; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 3
    • Total Gybes: 21 - Fully foiling: 15; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 2

    Crew: Francesco Bruni, Marco Gradoni, Jimmy Spithill, Andrea Tesei Umberto Molineris

    Emirates Team NZ - AC40-3 - Day 6 - May 24, 2023 - Auckland

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

    A relaxed start to the day to let the bulk of the strong S-SW wind enough time to drop back to good training conditions.

    The AC40 in full one design set up was rolled out and rigged, and launched into the pen at 12.48.

    At 13.30 she slipped her lines and was taken in tow down to just East of Browns Island to bend on sails.

    As the main got close to full hoist attention was focused on the luff end of the lower port skin batten. The batten was removed and the yacht sailed the whole session with no batten in that pocket.

    New additions to the main sails were windows in each skin

    At 1412 the main was on the lock followed a minute latter by the #3 jib. She was off the Chase boat and sailing by 1419, firstly doing long boards to windward up into Eastern Beach then a long run down towards Kennedy Point on Waiheke.

    After two of these laps the AC40 went into two sessions of pre start training on a line set by the chase boat.

    Eight pre starts were watched and they got progressively better and more complicated as they progressed, errors were fewer and maneuver counts went up.

    Just on 1600 the Marks setting the line were lifted and the AC40 headed for home on a fast reach back up the Motukorea channel, coming to stop off Orakei marina at 1616.

    Session Statistics - Emirates Team NZ - AC40-3 - Day 6 - May 24, 2023 - Auckland

    • Weather: Fine, 18° C
    • Wind Strength: 8-14 kts
    • Wind Direction: S-SE
    • Roll out: 1250hrs Dock Out: 1330hrs
    • Dock In: 1643hrs Crane out: 1728hrs
    • Total Tacks: 59 - Fully foiling: 57; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 0
    • Total Gybes: 44 - Fully foiling: 43; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0

    Crew: Leo Takahashi, Josh Junior, Sam Meech, Marcus Hansen

    INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Day 52 - May 24, 2023 - Mallorca

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

    With the wind at dock out this morning blowing from the north east at 10+ knots it looked like another day of shifty land breezes was on the cards. However, as INEOS Britannia head of sailing Giles Scott predicted as he boarded the team's T6 LEQ12 "we are expecting a switch" – and so it came to be, with the flukey and patchy land breeze lasting only 20 minutes into the team's first run before clearing skies over the land triggered the dominant southerly sea breeze.

    A fast tow out to where two magnificent J Class yachts were already making the best of the new breeze for their two boat practicing and the INEOS Britannia yacht was immediately into the air and ripping around Palma Bay in a solid 12-13 knot breeze with the M1-2 mainsail and the J2-1 headsail for the first 40 minute flight of the day.

    With the wind arcing up to the 13-15 knot range by 1400 the team stopped to change down to the J3-2 headsail. After a fast start to the day's second session twenty minutes in the crew had to stop to hoist a support team member up to the spreaders to adjust the two downward facing cameras fitted there. 30 minutes later they were off again – now in 14-17 knots from 220° – but only for five minutes before another stop was called.

    This time boat captain Chris Shrimer jumped on board to deal with a problem which involved climbing inside the double skin mainsail.

    This fix took forty minutes before the crew were up in flight again for a couple of fast windward/leeward runs lasting 30 minutes before a battery change stop at 1555hrs.

    The final session of the day lasted a little over an hour and at times saw the team sailing in the now familiar bow up stance, sailing fast downwind angles, and finishing off with a mesmerising set of match racing prestart maneuvers that included several impressive two-board 360° tack and gybe sequences, as well as aggressive bear aways and round ups.

    A 10 minute lull in the breeze to 7kts required a tow up before the breeze came back to 10+ knots. Time was called at 1715hrs with sails down by 1730hrs and dock in a 1745hrs. Another sailing day has been scheduled for tomorrow.

    Session Statistics: INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Day 52 - May 24, 2023 - Mallorca

    • Wind Strength: 12-17kts
    • Wind Direction: 220°
    • Weather: Cloudy 15-20°C
    • Sea State: Moderate chop with .75mtr swell offshore
    • Roll out: 1055hrs Dock Out: 1215hrs
    • Dock In: 1745hrs Crane out: 1815hrs
    • Total Tacks: 38; Fully foiling: 30; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 5
    • Total Gybes: 28; Fully foiling: 20; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 4

    Crew: Giles Scott, Dylan Fletcher, Luke Parkinson, Iain Jensen

    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 snapshot of all teams' progress on a given day or period.

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