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Cup Spy - May 31: Brits program moves up a gear - start two boat racing

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 1 Jun 15:51 PDT 2 June 2023
INEOS Britannia Team - Day 54 - T6 (LEQ12) - May 31, 2023 © Ugo Fonolla / America's Cup

The 2024 America's Cup program stepped up a gear with two teams match racing two 40fters, during in-house racing. The British raced their AC40 One Design against the LEQ12 custom build test boat. The Kiwis continued match racing their AC40OD against their LEQ12 - an AC40 hull, with one new wingfoil (the other being from the One Design configuration), and a custom design mainsail and jib. Alinghi Red Bull racing had a media and sailing day ahead of the visit from the Red Bull Racing F1 team.

What happened in the Cup - May 31, 2023:

  • INEOS Britannia sailed two boats for the first time in this cycle. They pitted their One Design AC40, against their 40ft Test Boat. It was an interesting battle - fully described by Justin Chisholm of the AC37 Joint Recon team. Skipper Ben Ainslie who sailed against T6, as co-helm along with Tokyo 2020 49er Gold medalist Dylan Fletcher - gave a more sanguine view of the Match-ups.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand sailed two boats, in a match race situation, but unlike Tuesday, they enjoyed fresh offshore winds, flat water - all the ingredients for a high speed foiling day.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed out of Barcelona in their AC40 with media on the water ahead of the Red Bull Racing F1 team visit.
  • American Magic, last sailed on March 10, and is packing out to make the move to their permanent base in Barcelona. No further public developments on the NYYC's team's application to COR/D to be excused from competition in Preliminary Event #2, to be sailed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
  • Luna Rossa did not sail for the second successive day.
  • No further news from the Orient Express Team (formerly K-Challenge).

INEOS Britannia - AC40 & LEQ12 - Day 54 - May 31, 2023 - Mallorca

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

It was an early start for the British America’s Cup team in Mallorca on Wednesday as they tried to squeeze their first ever two boat sailing session into a narrow weather window ahead of a forecast of thundery conditions in the afternoon.

The team’s AC40 was rolled out before sunrise and rigged and in the water on time at 0700.

Meanwhile, the British syndicate’s LEQ12 came out of the boat shed at 0730 and was rigged and afloat by 0745. A communications issue between the yachts and support boats resulted in a delay after T6 had docked out at 1020 but by 1130 both yachts were out of the harbour and with sails up (M1-2 mainsail and J2-1 headsail).

By this stage the breeze had trickled up to 5-6 knots from 180 and with predominantly clear skies over the land there was the prospect of further increases in velocity.

By 1220 T6 was airborne in 7-8 knots of breeze and the crew – helmsmen Giles Scott and Ben Cornish with flight controllers/trimmers Leigh McMillan and Luke Parkinson – quickly looped back to line up next to the also airborne AC40 – helmed by Ben Ainslie and Dylan Fletcher with Bleddyn Mon and Iain Jensen.

The two boats set off on a long upwind boat on boat session that saw them tack twice in synch and swap windward/leeward positions a couple of times. From our point of view behind the boats there did not appear to be a significant difference in terms of speed over the water or angle to the breeze. When the boats turned downwind it seemed like T6 had a speed advantage on port when using the latest 'banana' foil.

After a 10 minute stop at 1255 the two crews repeated the windward/leeward lap with a slightly stronger (estimated 8-10 knots) breeze which saw the two boats powering downwind at around 34 knots at times. Following this second lap of tacking and gybing in synch – which yielded similar performances from the two boats – the focus changed to race practice around a windward/leeward course with a two-mark gate at either end.

Race 1 saw T6 enter on port and after some tacks and gybes Scott/Cornish led Ainslie/Fletcher back to the line with the two even at the start with T6 to leeward. At this point dark rain clouds were starting to form over the land causing the southerly sea breeze to begin to fade a little. In these lighter winds – 7-9 knots estimated – the AC40 was able to sail slightly faster higher angles and rounded the windward gate 20 seconds ahead.

However a fumbled gybe saw the AC40 crew unable to immediately take off again. This handed the race to the T6 crew.

The second race was over almost before it began after T6 dropped off the foils on the first tack after the start and was unable to get back up. With thunder rumbling over the land and the sky turning blacker by the minute time was called at shortly after 1430 with sails down by 1450 and T6 back on the dock by 1505 – shortly before the torrential rain began.

Another two boat day has been scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday).

Session Statistics: INEOS Britannia - AC40 & LEQ12 - Day 54 - May 31, 2023 - Mallorca

  • Weather: Sunny 20° - 25° C
  • Wind Strength 8-12kts
  • Wind Direction: 180°
  • Roll out: 0745hrs Dock Out: 1020hrs
  • Dock In: 1505hrs Crane out: 1530hrs
  • Total Tacks: 22 - Fully foiling: 18; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 16 - Fully foiling: 14; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 0

Crews:Giles Scott, Ben Cornish, Luke Parkinson, Leigh McMillan

Emirates Team NZ - LEQ12 - Day 29 - May 31, 2023 - Auckland

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

With a dock out time of 12.00 called both the AC40 and LEQ12 were rigged and in the pen by 11.18.

A nice fine day with a gentle SW breeze starting around the 5-6 knot mark and building slowly as the day progressed to a max of 16-17 SW.

The only noticeable differences between the two boats was the development foil on the Port side of the LEQ12, steering wheels and cockpit instruments and layout. At 12.03 the LEQ12 slipped her lines a few minutes behind the AC40 and was taken on a bow tow down to North Head to Bend on sails in company with her stablemate.

At 12.23 the LEQ12 had the M2 on the lock quickly followed by the J3. She was off chase and sailing by 12.32 charging out the Rangitoto channel at break neck speed on Starboard out to just north of the shipping channel off Takapuna boat ramp where Chase- 1 set up a windward leeward course with gate at top about 3.5 miles off the beach and the bottom gate/start line about 1.5 miles further to leeward (NE).

After some warm up maneuvers we got to watch the First Pre Start of the day with the AC40 having port entry at 13.27.50, The LEQ 12 won this start when the AC40 came off her foils after a tight gybe with under 40 seconds to go. The LEQ12 went on to win the practice race comfortably.

That was followed by a 20 minute pause where chase boats came alongside and team talks were observed.

At 13.54 they were sailing again and the Second Pre Start had the port boat entering at 13.57.50 with the AC40 having port entry again. The LEQ12 won this start and went on to win the race by 25 seconds.

Another pause at 14.11 to sailing again at 14.32, with the Third Pre Start practice having a port entry time of 14.37.50 with the LEQ12 having port entry. This start was even with the AC being boat end and the LEQ12 mid line. In the race that followed the LEQ12 managed to get enough of a lead to be able to do a 270 degree turn at the bottom of the first run and still keep a 5 second lead.

The Fourth Pre Start had a port entry time of 15.07.50 with the AC40 having port entry. This was another high maneuver affair with boat yachts completing three full circles in the two minute sequence, starting quite even, the AC40 may have been early. Once again the LEQ12 extended on her stable mate the whole way around the two lap race.

At 15.12 Chase 1 started to pull marks and by 15.32 the LEQ12 was off Orakei dousing sails to be back at base by 16.00

Session Statistics - Emirates Team NZ - LEQ12 - Day 29 - May 31, 2023 - Auckland

  • Weather: 18°C 20% cloud cover, Sunny
  • Wind Strength: 16-17kts
  • Wind Direction: SW
  • Sea State: Chop
  • Roll out: 1118hrs Dock Out: 1203hrs
  • Dock In: 1600hrs Crane out: 1629hrs
  • Total Tacks: 50 - Fully foiling: 48; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 1
  • Total Gybes: 37 - Fully foiling: 36; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0

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

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - LEQ12 - Day 30 - May 31, 2023 - Barcelona

From the AC37 Joint Recon team:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC40-4 in LEQ12 mode at 08:45 for a day of testing, training and media ops with Dutch journalists, ahead of the ‘Oracle Red Bull Racing’ Formula 1 team visit.

Throughout the day, the wind was highly variable, predominantly from the East and East-Southeast, with speeds ranging between 2 and 12 knots, reaching its peak around 12:35. A spell of rain occurred at 13:50, coinciding with a slight dip in wind speed.

The team docked out at 11:00 with their M1-1 LE mainsail and J1-1 LE jib prepared, hoisted the main and towed towards the Forum, where an windward/leeward two mark course was set (but not used).

Sailing commenced just after midday, with the first stint sailed over an hour long period, during which the team sailed four long stretches, sailing with different ride heights and pitch. The Chase Bravo was observed following very close on the leeward quarter of the AC40, as if practicing close proximity sailing ahead of the two boat sailing.

After the long stretches, they turned downwind for a 12 gybe run, ending as the wind dipped below 5 knots. The second stint started as a bit of breeze filled in again, as the team started a long upwind with a JK maneuver, then heading downwind and throwing another JK maneuver towards the end.

A bit of rain and a drop in wind gave the sailors five minutes rest before starting the third and final stint in the dying breeze. The sailors started upwind fine but struggled to keep the yacht out of the water towards the end of the stint, and an end to the session was called at 14:10. The yacht was promptly towed back to base and sails were dropped right before docking in. After crane out, a small missing hatch was noticed on the outside of the new lower foil arm, which must have delaminated on the water.

Two new chase boats were delivered to the base, one of which was hidden behind a container. The other is a Protector 330 Targa with twin Mercury Racing 450HP outboards, with six Shockwave Sentinel suspension seats.

The team were on the water for three and a half hours, covering just over 41 NM. 54 maneuvers were performed (76% fully foiling), about 10% better through the tacks. This is the first session in almost two weeks with more than 20 maneuvers in a day.

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - LEQ12 - Day 30 - May 31, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Wind Strength: 8-12kts
  • Wind Direction: E
  • Weather: Cloudy 19°C
  • Sea State: Beaufort 1
  • Roll out: 0910hrs Dock Out: 1100hrs
  • Dock In: 1435hrs Crane out: 1450hrs
  • Total Tacks: 10; Fully foiling: 5; Touch & Go: 5; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 16; Fully foiling: 17; Touch & Go: 8; Touch Down: 1

  • Crew: Arnaud Psarofaghis, Maxime Bachelin, Bryan Mettraux, Lucien Crujean

    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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