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Cup Spy - June 30: Hutchinson's verdict on the sailing conditions at Barcelona.

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 2 Jul 2023 05:55 PDT 2 July 2023
American Magic and Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 - Day 38 - June 30, 2023 - Barcelona © Alex Carabi / America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - June 30 2023:

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed their LEQ12 40ft test boat from Barcelona in a 5-9kt breeze from SSE.(Reports below)
  • American Magic sailed their LEQ12 for the first time in Barcelona (See feature report)
  • Luna Rossa did not sail.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand is still in transit to Barcelona, with their ship expected to dock in Spain on Monday.
  • INEOS Britannia is not sailing until August 1
  • No further news from the Orient Express Team (formerly K-Challenge).

The America's Cup Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, is expected to arrive within 24 hours on a ship carrying the team's AC75 and associated gear. They have passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and are expected to dock in Barcelona on Monday.

Today's feature interview is with American Magic's Team boss, Terry Hutchinson, who gives his view on what they have seen so far in Barcelona - and has been pleasantly surprised. Also, there is a brief update from Swiss co-helm Nicolas Charbonnier on the Swiss team's activities.

Hutchinson gives his take on Barcelona.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing has been sailing from the host venue since August 8, last year - and was the first America's Cup team to begin sailing in this the 37th edition of the America's Cup.

The US Challenger American Magic has joined the Swiss team in Barcelona. Each is following its various testing and development strategies at the 2024 America's Cup Venue. Coordinated training and testing is prohibited before America's Cup racing starts in August 2024.

American Magic has now sailed three sessions at the 2024 AC Venue - the first two days were spent commissioning their new AC40 - the eighth off the McConaghy production line.

On Friday, they wheeled out their AC40-5, which can be configured as a One Design, or run as a development platform to test wing foils, sails, spars, control and software - everything except different hull shapes. Today it was in test mode.

Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison shared the helming role on Friday for American Magic, with Lucas Calabrese and Andrew Campbell on trimming and flight control.

Despite being at the same venue, the teams are prohibited from sailing against each other under the America's Cup rules. The only point of comparison is on the dry tack/gybe percentages, which were evenly split, with American Magic hitting an 84% dry tacks percentage and 100% dry gybes. By comparison, Alinghi Red Bull Racing was on 87% for dry tacks and 97% for dry gybes. Both had wing foils that were a one-design on one side and a development foil on the other with standard rudder elevators.

Interviewed on the dock after today's (June 30) sail, American Magic's President of Sailing Operations, Terry Hutchinson, was upbeat about what they had seen at the venue and said he was pleasantly with the sailing conditions.

"The conditions in Barcelona have been about what I think we expected - it has been a little bit light," he told the AC37 Joint Recon team.

"But on Tuesday, we had a really good afternoon sea breeze which filled into 16 to 18 knots, and today was as forecasted. I think Barcelona is an incredible city. It's an incredible spot to go sailing, as we have seen here in the past with Quantum Racing on the TP 52's. It's a venue we know, and the venue is just awesome."

Today the team shifted their focus from commissioning the AC40-OD 'Magic' to getting their development boat - the LEQ12 named 'America' back into test mode, with the occasional stop to carry out on-the-water adjustments to get the test boat back into tune. It seems that the New York Yacht Club team are following a similar strategy to Cup holders Emirates Team New Zealand and former champions Alinghi Red Bull Racing - where they run an AC75 upgraded to some extent from the first version of the AC75 Class Rule that prevailed for the 2021 America's Cup, along with a LEQ12 test boat 'America', and their AC40 One Design - 'Magic'.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing have followed a similar strategy testing their "tubercle" wing foil on an AC40 setup - turning it into a LEQ12 under the 2024 America's Cup Rules.

From Hutchinson's comments, their intention, like the other two teams, is to use their AC40s both for match racing training and use the One Design boat as a benchmark for their test boat.

The AC40 was designed by Emirates Team New Zealand designers, who did the exercise as an advanced design of their 2021 AC75 champion Te Rehutai. From a test boat perspective the AC40 - even in One Design mode should be acceptably fast, and from what we have seen to date with the two AC-40's sailed by ETNZ (their test boat/LEQ12) is not light years faster than the AC40 One Design.

In race testing by the Cup holders, the two AC40s have proven to be a good boat for developing their match racing playbook in the pre-start, but with the test boat easing away - as it should do - post-start - if there have been positive changes made.

There's been much talk about the awkward sea state off Barcelona, with the Swiss turning in some spectacular moves as the boat and seaway took control away from the crew.

However, Hutchinson says the conditions are similar to what they have been sailing in their US base at Pensacola, Florida.

"Actually, it's not too different from Pensacola - that's the surprising part," Hutchinson said. "We saw what happened on Tuesday when the breeze kicked up, and we were out on the racecourse. There's quite a bit of swell feeding back off the beach and the seawall, so the chop built up quite quickly there.

"That was more reminiscent of sailing out in the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola. But Barcelona is a pretty good spot. And I think we're all incredibly lucky to be here. It's so cool to be out there and to see Alinghi racing and doing their thing, and us to be out doing our thing. It gives a really good sense of that all the teams are getting into the homestretch of what we're all chasing."

American Magic tried out a new mainsail on the development boat today. It was a poignant moment for their sail designer Max Tringale. He had a similar role in The Ocean Race winner 11th Hour Racing, whose race win was confirmed a few hours earlier and was the first win by a US boat in the 50year history of the crewed round the world yacht race.

"Max was a sail designer for 11th Hour, and so I think he, as far as I can tell, was smiling today. I'm not sure if it was because of the new main we put up or because 11th Hour just won - I'm thinking it's the latter, but today's main is a nice sail."

"As with all these things, we're always testing and trying to learn and develop for the AC 75. The underlying goal, obviously, is to win the America's Cup and everything that we do between now and that Match is that's our focus."

There were the usual teething issues with hoisting the new sail. Something which can continue for several days from what we've seen with other teams as they try and marry the two skins of the mainsail to the AC75 mast and its hoisting mechanisms and controls.

Hutchinson put the issues down to sorting out the new sail gremlins. "Like everything, it takes a little settling in and getting over the jetlag."

Swiss continue to assess 'tubercle' wingfoil

Alingi Red Bull Racing was also going through their test routines in their LEQ12.

Arnaud Psarofaghis and Nicolas Charbonnier were the co-helms on Alinghi Red Bull Racing, with Yves Detrey and Bryan Mettraux handling flight control and sail trimming.

Early on in the session, it appeared they had some problems with the foil cameras, and AC37 Joint Recon says these cameras and mounts were removed with the assistance of a hammer!

That adjustment was accomplished the Swiss returned to the test area.

"We were keen to do some testing to do with our two foils," explained co-helm Nicolas Charbonnier dockside after the session. He confirmed they were going through the standard routine comparing the one-design foil against the design one.

"And we also had the LEQ12 sails with us, so we are always happy to learn about our sails and to know how to use them better," Charbonnier explained.

The AC37 Joint Recon Team asked why they were sailing bow-up on occasions. Charbonnier replied that it was just a way of testing the angle of attack of the foils and was something they would do on request in the testing but would never do in racing.

Subsequent questioning focused on the key performance numbers going into and coming out of a tack. Coming out of the tack/gybe, Charbonnier explained their focus was on speed and the wind angle. "We just want to make sure we are exiting on a good angle and with a decent speed."

He added that it was difficult to put hard numbers on the target speeds and sailing angles. There is a massive change in the in numbers with just a couple of knots increase in wind pressure, he explained

The action in Barcelona will go up several clicks next week with the arrival of Emirates Team New Zealand's AC75 on Monday - with a big task ahead to set up their base and go sailing.

Weather conditions at Barcelona June 30, 2023:

  • Wind: 5-9kts from the SSE
  • Sea state: 1.5ft Northerly swell offshore.
  • Conditions: 24° C, Partly cloudy.
  • Alinghi RBR Dock-out: 1150hrs Dock-in: 1650hrs
  • American Magic: Dock-out: 1230hrs Dock-in: 1740hrs

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

American Magic - LEQ12 - Day 33 - June 30, 2023 - Pensacola

American Magic docked out at 12:30; we were in open waters out of the port at 12:40 and had the main up by 13:22.

It took them forever to get the outhaul and cunningham systems sorted; it was a brand-new mainsail which required some fiddling.

The breeze was very light at 4-5kt with some patches of even lighter air. The crew had two initial unsuccessful attempts to get up without a tow; after that, the patches of no wind disappeared, and they got up foiling easily.

Sailing for the day consisted mainly of long tacks either upwind or downwind, trying to keep the boat in the groove and then the occasional smooth manoeuvres. There were three sailing periods of 30min each, then 2 of 15min and 10min and three resting periods in between of 20-25min.

In all, America completed 38 manoeuvres, 10 W/Ls, sailed approximately 42NM, and had a total flying time of 115 minutes. Top speeds were approximately 24kt upwind and 33kt downwind. I could not appreciate any significant difference in boat attitude/behaviour from port tack to starboard tack, even though they had different wing foils on each arm.

Report from: Lea Sitjà

Session Statistics: American Magic - LEQ12 - Day 33 - June 30, 2023 - Pensacola

  • Total Tacks: 26 - Fully foiling: 22; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 12 - Fully foiling: 12; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Paul Goodison, Tom Slingsby, Lucas Calabrese, Andrew Campbell

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - LEQ12 - Day 38 - June 30, 2023 - Barcelona

From the AC37 Joint Recon team:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC40 at 09:00 for a day of foil and sail testing before the weekend break. It was immediately noted that a camera fairing with a GoPro inside was added under the bulb of the 'Delta/Tubercle' Foil, with the aim of validating what's happening with water flow under the lower surface of the foil.

Indicator stripes have also been added to the exterior span of the wing foil.

The yacht was prepared at the dock, and standard system checks were carried out before docking out for a tow test at 11:00. The yacht was towed North along the coast to Badalona and back to base. The camera fairing was removed with the aid of a wooden mallet. The M1-1 LE and J1-1 LE sails were brought on deck ahead of the 13:00 lockout, with a light 'Garbi' filling in at 14:00, gusting 10 knots at most while on the water.

The team initially struggled to maintain flight, but at 14:00, managed a self-take-off at 90 TWA. The team went through a series of testing, sailing straight lines, playing with pitch, ride height and cant angles. The following stint saw the team perform 13 gybes, with a series of round-ups and bear aways between gybes.

The third stint consisted of a long upwind of 11 tacks, followed by 15 gybes downwind back towards the base, with the final gybe performed inside the port entrance. Sails were dropped, and the yacht docked in at 16:30.

Over 58NM were covered over the day, with 50 manoeuvres performed, 94% fully foiling.

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - LEQ12 - Day 38 - June 30, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Total Tacks: 16; Fully foiling: 14; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 34; Fully foiling: 33; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Arnaud Psarofaghis , Nicolas Charbonnier, Yves Detrey, Bryan Mettraux

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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