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Cup Spy - July 12: American Magic forced to stop session soon after start

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 13 Jul 2023 06:42 PDT 14 July 2023
Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 - Day 41 - July 12, 2023 - Barcelona © Alex Carabi / America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - July 12, 2023:

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed their AC40-OD against their LEQ12, again lighter wind which was in quite nicely when the boats docked out around 0930hrs. But then the breeze followed its usual pattern of fading in and out and swinging from SE to E. Ernesto Bertarelli and former world match racing champion and SailGP skipper Phil Robertson sailed as co-helmsmen but not together. The team put in a four-and-a-half-hour session.
  • Luna Rossa - was out sailing - alone, once again, in their AC40 One Design.
  • American Magic - sailed a short-lived two-boat session, which ended a few minutes after their test boat (LEQ12) suffered a breakdown, believed to be wing foil/foil arm, cant system, or a loss of on-board power.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand is believed to be assembling their AC75 with a target sailing date of mid-July - not too far away.
  • 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.


The light winds, which have plagued Barcelona for the past few days, gave way to a foiling strength SE breeze, which came and went before Siesta and slowly clocked East.

However, while the wind may have been back (and is certainly there as we write at noon on Thursday with a SW breeze of 16kts gusting 18kts), the seaway added another dimension.

American Magic was set to have a solid two-boat testing session, with the test boat (LEQ12) being fitted with a newly modified wing foil.

However, it was not to be - with a system glitch, of which flight controller Andrew Campbell revealed very little in the post-session interview.

"It was a short day for us on the America today - it was one of those complicated days in the America's Cup. The boats are sophisticated racing machines, they've got a lot of pieces and parts, and when they're not quite running at 100%, everything kind of shuts down."

"We didn't get very far off the end of the pier after we hoisted and started the process of taking off.

"It just didn't quite work out. We needed to come back to the dock and sort everything out. And try to get the boat ready for the next day."

Pressed further, he wouldn't elaborate. "Like I said, the boats are complicated. There's a lot of internal software, hardware, electronics, and hydraulics. If one of those pieces is not working right, it throws the whole system out of equilibrium. If we're not running at 100%, we need to be back on shore making sure we are."

Our guess is that it was an issue with the test wingfoil or the AC40 was suffering an intermittent power problem on board. If the latter, there are so many variables that it is not a simple issue to diagnose with any certainty.

In a breeze of 8-9kts, the US team opted for their #2 jib - which was probably just in range for that strength of wind - remembering that the AC40 needs all the power it can get at the bottom end of the wind range once the boat starts foiling, the apparent windspeed will jump to 30kts, maybe more. Finding a sail, particularly a jib, that will cover both ends of the apparent wind spectrum is not easy. Most tend to err on the side of the smaller jib and compensate for the lack of power by grunting up the mainsail and then flattening off to suit the new apparent windstrength once foiling.

All teams were affected by what Campbell called the "break wall bounce", which is part of the complicated seaway occurring close to shore in Barcelona. However, as with other venues that suffer the same issue, it seemed to fade into a more regular pattern as the boats moved offshore.

"I think we thought maybe further offshore we get a little more and you know, so bumpy right up against the seawall there we're trying to get out of that out of that break wall bounce and get into some cleaner air, I think we might have been on the right jib once we got offshore but we never really got a good look at it."

Reviewing the video, the "break wall bounce" was quite an issue for Alinghi Red Bull Racing as it tried to get foiling on starboard tack. And even when sailing, the AC40s were not lifting clear of the waves as they sailed up the beachfront.

However, with their different foiling geometry, and more power, the "break wall bounce" will not dominate the AC75s as much as it does with the AC40s.

We're expecting to see Emirates Team New Zealand giving Te Rehutai its first gallop off Barcelona soon - and that event should answer many questions.

Weather conditions at Barcelona July 12, 2023:

  • According to the Predictwind readings taken at the entrance to Olimpic Port, the breeze peaked at 0900hrs at 11kts from the South. It then tended to soften for the rest of the day, being around 5-6kts "gusting" 8kts and being a steady "gust" of 5kts until 1800hr swinging East.
  • Sea state: Beaufort 4.
  • Conditions: 30 degrees C Sunny
  • All teams left around 0930-1000hrs to try and get the most of the morning breeze.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing LEQ12 - Day 41 - July 12, 2023 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing started their day early, rolling out their AC40-7 (Red) and AC40-4 (Yellow) at 06:45 and 07:15 respectively. Besides standard systems checks, the Red boat's main sheet system was subject to some attention, while the Yellow boat underwent hydraulic fluid checks, holding them back 15 minutes after the Red boat docked out at 09:20.

Ernesto Bertarelli joined Arnaud Psarofaghis, driving on port in the Yellow boat, while Phil Robertson teamed up with Maxine Bachelin on the Red. Nico Charbonnier was also spotted in sailing gear on the chase boat, to rotate mid-session.

Both boats started with J2 One Design jibs, with the Red hoisting the M1-2 OD mainsail and the Yellow an M1-1 LE mainsail. Notably, Luna Rossa and American Magic were also on the water with similar jib configurations.

The sailing was challenged by an offset East sea state, aggressive chop of up to 1.2m and 4s period according to local buoy readings, and oscillating 'Xaloc' Southeast winds which saw 8-11 knots in the late morning before dropping to 4-6 knots, and picking up to 9-11 knots in the early afternoon. Take-offs proved difficult on the starboard tack, as well as gybes to starboard in the lulls, due to the direction of the waves, though tacking was less of an issue.

The first stint comprised warm-up laps around the 1NM course, windward gate set at 105 degrees, focusing on take-offs with and into the waves, as well as mark roundings.

The second stint involved a pre-start and 1-lap race.

The Red boat tactically split at the start to sail on the right side, with both boats converging at the windward gate as the Red boat tacked inside, forcing the yellow boat's momentum in an attempt to sail over.

They were held out from bearing away before clearing astern and racing downwind to the finish gate. The recon boat was not able to catch the yachts downwind to clearly see the finish, but it appeared the Red boat made it first as the Yellow boat touched down before the line.

The third stint included three rolling pre-start practices as the wind gradually decreased. Both boats swapped to J1 jibs, with the Yellow hoisting a J1-1 LE and the Red a J1-2 OD. The fourth stint saw both boats towed further offshore for side-by-side sailing and tacking duels in calmer conditions and better wind. The fifth and final stint continued with synchronized and split tacking, repeating with gybes downwind. With the day's focus on match racing, both boats demonstrated mixed performances, potentially due to the drivers who are not full-time with the team as well as the challenging sea conditions close to shore. Offshore, the Red boat seemed to fare better than the Yellow, demonstrating more consistent manoeuvres.

The decision was made to end the session at 13:50 and tow back to port, following a day of valuable practice and testing under varying conditions. The temperature was slightly cooler today, reaching a high of 30 degreesC under mostly cloudy skies.

The recon boat covered 46NM observing Alinghi Red Bull racing, as they spent just over five hours on the water. 82 manoeuvres were performed, of which 85% were fully foiling.

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing LEQ12 - Day 41 - July 12, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Total Tacks: 51 - Fully foiling: 44; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 3
  • Total Gybes: 31 - Fully foiling: 26; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 4

American Magic - AC40 and LEQ12 - Day 37 - July 12, 2023 - Barcelona

From the AC37 Joint Recon Team:

A two-boat sailing program for today turned out to be an unfortunately very short day for America (LEQ12).

Roll out at8:45hrs and dock out at 10:00hrs with Tom Slingsby plus Lucas Calabrese helming and Riley Gibbs plus Andrew Campbell trimming.

On Magic (AC40-OD) we had Paul Goodison, Michael Menninger, Harry Melges and Finn Jr.

A modified starboard wing, version B as per Component Declaration and launched two days ago, was fitted, but I could not appreciate any visual difference with previous version A.

Both boats rigged Main Sail #2 and Jib #2 too. The wind was blowing 7-9kt at 100º with a sea state (Beaufort scale) of 4 with 0,7m wind chop and 1,3m swell from 80º.

Magic was up and foiling out of the Port of Barcelona at 10:25h, and America tried taking off at 10:30h for roughly 400m without success.

America stopped, dropped the jib and had the chase boat tied alongside while Magic kept on sailing further out.

By 10:55h America was towed back to port and back to dock at 11:14 to finish the day without ever taking off.

At the interview, Andrew Campbell didn't specify what specifically forced them back to port.

- Lea Sitjà (AC37 Joint Recon team)

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40 and LEQ12 - Day 37 - July 12, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny
  • Wind Strength 7-9kts
  • Wind Direction: E
  • Sea State: Beaufort 4
  • Roll out: 0825hrs Dock Out: 1000hrs
  • Dock In: 1114hrs
  • Total Tacks: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

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.

Additional Images:

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