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Cup Spy - July 11: More light airs in Barcelona - as the temperature rises

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 11 Jul 2023 17:30 PDT 11 July 2023
Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 - Day 40 - July 11, 2023 - Barcelona © Alex Carabi / America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - July 11, 2023:

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing hoped to sail their AC40-OD against their LEQ12, but the breeze did not oblige. Both boats had their one design wingfoils fitted, but with One Design and Development sails fitted. Former World Match racing skipper and SailGP skipper, Phil Robertson was aboard the AC40-One Design.
  • Luna Rossa - no report or images as to whether they ventured out off Barcelona or Cagliari where their LEQ12 is believed to have remained.
  • American Magic - no report or images as to whether they ventured out off Barcelona.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand is in Barcelona and is believed to be assembling their AC75 with a target sailing date of mid-July.
  • INEOS Britannia will not be sailing until August 1, and are transiting to Barcelona from their pre-Cup base in Mallorca.
  • No further news from the Orient Express Team (formerly K-Challenge), save for the announcement of their sailing team, last week.


What happened in the Cup on Tuesday, July 11, 2023?

The short answer is not a lot.

Fast forward 12 months and we are just short of the start date for the 2024 Challenger Selection Series, and Tuesday's conditions look awfully similar to those of mid-April 2007, when the wind, was a no-show for the first four days of racing in the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup.

Bob Fisher, still the doyen of America's Cup journalists, even though he crossed the bar two and a half years ago, could have been describing this day when he summed up the racing to date, in his report of April 19, 2007 - three days into the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup - in an idle Valencia.

"Thursday April 19th 1415 CET: The starting gun should have fired to start the seventh flight match between BMW Oracle Racing and Areva, but instead the Answering Pennant hangs limply from the Committee Boat on the North Course. The sea is a glassy calm and the prospects for any racing look bleak.

"And you cannot believe the weather forecasters. In the Morning Briefing, a daily produced document, it states: 'Change in direction of gradient breeze towards the north should allow a gentle sea breeze to develop 6-8 knots. Cloud cover may increase from the south through the afternoon.' Why, therefore, was it totally overcast this morning and the skies are now crystal-clear?

"1515 CET: There are tiny, tiny, tiny ripples on the surface of the sea on both courses, but not enough breeze to blow away the cobwebs. The waiting game continues... and continues: 1615 CET: Activity! 'They're thinking about it on one course!' came the cry, but thinking was all that was being done. 1705 CET: All racing abandoned for the day.

"Maybe tomorrow... maybe."

A couple of days later on April 21, Bob captured the sailors' and fans' attention, and frustration. with the pithy headline "Oops - Racing has begun".

Yesterday was Valencia Revisited - grey overcast skies merging into a horizonless grey Mediterranean Sea, and oddly a 33°C temperature - said to be the hottest day of the local Summer thus far.

Tuesday's session followed a similar pattern for such days - AC boats being towed on their foils, with sails hoisted, chasing a patch of breeze, and then being released like a glider from its drone to sail unassisted on the apparent wind that has been built, and augmented by any promising patch on increased pressure.

The AC40's are towed from a line attached to the side of the boat - where it can be released by one of the crew, without leaving the forward cockpit. Looking at images - still or video - it takes a very keen eye to discern whether the boat is under tow or free sailing. The giveaway is the boat-wake of the chase-boat - and of the AC boat is sailing in white wake - then it is probably under tow.

On the 22 videos that are available on the Recon File System (RFS) some do show the AC40/LEQ12 free sailing, but in the absence of a true breeze, they lose their apparent wind in a tack or gybe, and eventually come off the foils.

Asked by the AC37 Recon Team after the session what they hoped to achieve today, co-helmsman Maxime Bachelin replied: "It was very, very warm today. And, not a lot of wind. But the goal was to go out with light wind and practice takeoffs. We were managed to do maybe one or two, and the rest with the RIB."

"We learned a bit about the takeoff, maybe how to power-up the sail. And just to compare the two sails (between the One Design and Development boats). For sure, it's there is difference, but we will need to analyse it on the images at the end of the day," the former 49er sailor replied.

Switching the discussion to differences in the control set-ups at the helm position on the AC40 compared to the AC75, Bachelin didn't answer directly as to which he preferred, except to say they were completely different on the AC75 and AC40. "I don't have one I like more than the other."

"We are sharing quite a lot of the functions as part of the testing and because we don't really know what will be the final button we will use," Bachelin said.

However he did say that the AC75/Boat Zero will be reflective of changes and developments that could be carried over into the race boat, saying that the AC75 option was more open to change and alteration than the AC40, which may need to go back into a One Design configuration at some time in the future.

The rest of the week holds promise of light winds, maybe a little stronger than we saw on Tuesday. Or, as in Bob Fisher's parting comment in his report from just over 16yrs ago:

"Maybe tomorrow... maybe."

Weather conditions at Barcelona July 11, 2023:

  • According to the Predictwind readings taken at the entrance to Olimpic Port the breeze spiked to 6kts at 1300hrs and then died away completely increasing back to 5kts a couple of hours after the boat had returned to the dock. The wind shifted from the ESE to the E and then back to S later in the day. Wind observations by the AC37 Recon team, on the water, had the breeze at 3-5kts ESE increasing to 4-6kts SE around 1345hrs.
  • Sea state: Beaufort 1-2.
  • Conditions: 33 degreesC Overcast
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing (both AC40-OD and LEQ12): Dock-out: 1200hrs Dock-in: 1440hrs

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing LEQ12 - Day 40 - July 11, 2023 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC40-7 (RED) and AC40-4 (YELLOW) at 08:30 and 09:10 respectively, both boats equipped with One Design foils. Standard system checks were carried out on both yachts, with a focus on displays and driver systems.

Phil Robertson was back at the base today, sailing on the Red boat. With very light winds forecast on the sailing area, the M1-1 LE and J1-1 LE mainsail and jib were prepared on the Yellow boat, whereas M1-2 OD and J1-2 OD were prepared on the Red boat. Windows were added at the foot of M1-2 OD mainsail on the Red boat - a design choice that would enhance the windward driver's view of the leeward conditions.

Both boats docked out at midday. Weather conditions were tough, with 'Xaloc' Southeast winds ranging from 3-6 knots. The day saw overcast skies and the highest temperatures recorded for 2023 (28-33?).

As sailing commenced at 12:35, the light wind conditions made it impossible for the boats to maintain flight, requiring a short wait for the wind to fill in. The decision was taken to tow both yachts further offshore in an attempt to find a stronger breeze, even going south of the city towards the airport. However, even after several tow starts and brief moments of foiling, the wind conditions didn't allow for sustained flight.

The team attempted one foiling tack, touching down imminently.

With no significant improvement in wind conditions, both boats were towed back towards the usual sailing area in front of Barceloneta in a bid to find more wind, eventually calling an end to the day, as the yachts were towed back to the base and craned out by 15:30. According to Maxime Bachelin in the post sailing interview, the plan for the day was light wind take offs and sailing in the light wind, continuing to compare the performance between the LE sails and the AC40 One Design sails.

The team spent just under three hours on the water, covering 31 NM, but only 10-15 minutes of actual sailing on foil for both boats.

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing LEQ12 - Day 40 - July 11, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Total Tacks: 1 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 1
  • Total Gybes: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Arnaud Psarofaghis, Maxime Bachelin , Nico Charbonnier, Phil Robertson, Lucien Cujean, Yves Detrey, Bryan Mettraux, Nico Rolaz

The Parting Shot:

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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