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Cup Spy July 14: Kiwis throw down the gauntlet in Barcelona

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 15 Jul 2023 06:32 PDT 15 July 2023
Emirates Team New Zealand - AC75 - Day 20 - July 14, 2023 - Barcelona © Paul Todd/America's Cup

Emirates Team New Zealand became the fourth team to begin sailing from Barcelona, the venue for the 37th America's Cup. The team sailed their AC75, the current America's Cup champion in a fresh breeze - which was in contrast to the light airs of earlier in the week.

What happened in the Cup - July 14, 2023:

The breeze came back at Barcelona, building rapidly to 16kts gusting 20kts. Besides the Kiwis, three other teams sailed out of Barcelona.

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed their AC75, and had another good day, sailing without major incident and only missing six tacks/gybes - which were rated as "touch and goes" out of 56 maneuvers.
  • Luna Rossa - we have no report from AC37 Joint Recon Team, or images of them sailing from one of the other Recon teams (none are assigned to teams sailing only One Design AC40's, but assume they were sailing.
  • American Magic - sailed their AC40 One Design and their AC40/LEQ12 test boat. Unfortunately the the USA team continued to have technical issues with their LEQ12, but stayed on the water debugging the boat. At the end of the day, the LEQ12 appeared to be functioning normally.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand launched their AC75 and had a four hour sail, which has got the team off to a good start.
  • 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).


In contrast to their last European expedition, in early 2020, Emirates Team New Zealand, got sailing almost to the day of their project plan - two days ahead, in fact.

That's a different story to their last foray into Europe, back in March 2020, when they chased two cancelled regattas as the COVID pandemic advanced through Europe. Eventually they returned to New Zealand after five months travelling, and without having fired a shot in anger.

A legacy of the Blake era is the role that self-belief plays in Kiwi AC teams. It was therefore important for the defending champions to put their stamp on Barcelona, hit a few key objectives, and maintain the momentum from their summer of sailing in Auckland, and say "beat that!".

Their AC75 performed to near-perfection straight out of the box, ten days after being off loaded in Barcelona. It was a confident performance that contrasted with the stutter start we have seen from some other teams.

For all that, the momentum in the Kiwis immediate sailing program will be short-lived, with several members of the sailing team heading off mid-week to compete in the SailGP Los Angeles. They have a tight schedule with another three SailGP Regattas before the end of October and the first of the AC Preliminary Regattas in Vilanova, Spain before heading for the second AC Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah at the end of November.

"We're here for four months, our main goals are to understand the venue and learn a lot about the conditions here," said coach Ray Davies after the session. "And, make sure we sail right through October when the Cup is going to be staged and learn as much as we possibly can. Then obviously, developing the boat while we're here as well."

As Davies, and most commentators have noted, the sign-off for the hull design of the challenger and defender raceboats has long passed, and all are now on the diminishing time scale of being able to test components and design ideas on their AC75 or other platform.

A key part of that exercise is to test foils, rudders and sails in the Barcelona environment, and for ETNZ's designers to be able work with confidence on the basis of solid test data from an AC75, at the AC37 venue, instead of the half scale 40fters that have been buzzing around the various teams' home bases.

It is significant that Emirates Team New Zealand are the first team from the last America's Cup to have sailed an AC75 in the 2024 Cup venue.

While the launching and first sail in Barcelona may have been significant for the Defenders, it was also a telling moment for the Challengers - three of which were on the water - getting their first look at the Defender sailing confidently in fresh winds at the venue for the 37th America's Cup.

The reality for all teams, on the basis of decisions already made and strategies adopted, is that the America's Cup has already been won. It is just a matter of by who.

While today a psychological moment for the Kiwis, it was also a logistical one.

The first sail at the venue will set the count-down clock running on the Defence, with the New Zealand team adopting its standard approach of running a parallel timeline to that which they will follow for the run-in to the Cup as they pass through key checkpoints 12 months out on their flight path to the Defence.

The team will be the only one to return home from Barcelona after the end of October. The schedule for the 37th America's Cup has always favoured the Defenders, who providing they can hit their logistical milestones, have the advantage of being able to enjoy sailing in continual summer conditions, and long daylight hours to maximise on the water sailing and testing time.

Weather conditions at Barcelona July 14, 2023:

  • According to the Predictwind readings taken at the entrance to Olimpic Port the Southerly breeze did another rapid build throughout the morning before spiked to a peak average of 22kts at 1400hrs gusting over 25kts, and averaging 15kts at mid day.

    The breeze stayed a near constant 20kts average for the afternoon, once it had settled down and didn't move too much in direction either. Air temperatures are reported at near 30°C - maybe taking some weight out of the breeze.

    On the water the AC37 Recon teams reported a SSW breeze of 14-17kts.

  • Sea state: Beaufort 4 (approx 0.6 to 0.9metre seas) at a 3 sec period between centres.
  • Conditions: 30° C Sunny, Clear skies.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing (AC75): Dock-out: 1245hrs Dock-in: 1700hrs
  • American Magic (both AC40-OD and LEQ12): Dock-out: 1356hrs Dock-in: 1607hrs
  • Emirates Team New Zealand (AC75): 1405hrs Dock-in:1630hrs

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Emirates Team NZ - AC75 - Day 20 - July 14, 2023 - Barcelona

ETNZ rolled out their B2 AC75 from the shed at 10.00 am. Immediately after, the mast was set on the boat and while setting the port shroud, a minor issue was found on the mast that required it to be craned down.

The instrumentation and mechanics engineer Kelly Hartzell had to spend around 30 minutes working on the mast, with the mast down, just under the height of the spreader fixing something. It was not possible to see precisely what it was.

Once fixed, the mast was set and the boat was craned to the water at 11.45

Once on the water, boat preparation checks were performed for approximately an hour and a half, checking the general functionality of all mechanics, electronics, and hydraulics. Nothing in particular was noticed; just usual routine works.

The team docked out at 14:05, with the M2 and J4 sails onboard, that were used during the entire day with no sail’s changes. Sails where hoisted at 14:20.

The training consisted on sailing upwind and downwind, doing some tacks and gybes, and a couple bear-aways and head-ups, for two hours with four stops of not more than five to ten minutes each. No marks were used.

It was a solid first day for ETNZ, with no break downs and a 90% of their maneuvers were done standing on their foils. Only on two tacks and gybes their speed was reduced considerably. There were no forced landings at all.

Conditions: SSW Garbi sea breeze, averaging 15-16 knots from 210 turning to 220 on the afternoon. Choppy conditions, 0,6m swell from 210.

At 16:30 ETNZ returned to the port with no breakdowns and a really positive atmosphere within the sailors and the entire team. Usual maintenance activities were performed on the boat after sailing.

Session Statistics - Emirates Team NZ - AC75 - Day 20 - July 14, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Total Tacks: 11 - Fully foiling: 9; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 9 - Fully foiling: 7; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Nathan Outteridge, Peter Burling, Andy Maloney, Blair Tuke (AC40)

Alinghi Red Bull Racing LEQ12 - Day 40 - July 13, 2023 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC75 at 09:45, with general system checks performed at the dock. Sails were craned on and prepared on deck ahead of the 12:45 dockout, continuing the testing of sail control systems. It appears that an active effort is being made to hide the traveller.

'Garbi' afternoon thermal wind from the South Southwest (200°), blew between 16 to 21 knots changing, turning to South West towards the end of the day (220°) .

The sea state was challenging, with aggressive chop among a SSW swell ranging from 0.5m to 0.9m in height, with a 3-4s period. There was a noticeable difference in wave height, being larger at the south of the sailing area by the freeport, and flatter outside the Forum.

The team seemed to be in top form today, with substitute cyclors on chase boats, ready to swap in to maintain the high power demand on such a windy day.

The M2-2L mainsail and J6-1L jib were hoisted just outside the port, all controls tightened for a flat sail.

The first stint of sailing included two tacks followed by a pause for jib adjustment, then a downwind run to the Forum, with nine gybes, eight of which were fully foiling, one touch and go. The second stint consisted of a short upwind of three tacks, stopping just a few hundred meters from Emirates Team New Zealand’s Te Rehutai, where the J6 jib was then replaced with the J5-1R.

A jib halyard issue set the team back a short while, with a team member climbing the mast to reconnect it. Following this, the team executed a long downwind, an upwind, and then another downwind. A total of 28 manoeuvres were performed, with a remarkable 25 fully foiling.

The J5 jib was dropped temporarily and cyclors were substituted for the fourth and final sailing stint, comprising another upwind/downwind leg. The sails were dropped just before 17:00 outside the Forum, after which the yacht was towed back to base.

On this sunny day, a total of 54 nautical miles were covered, the team spent four and a half hours on the water, of which 95 minutes were spent sailing.

In total, 56 manoeuvres were performed, of which 89% were fully foiling – the team's best record so far with the AC75.

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC75 - Day 75 - July 14, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Total Tacks: 24 - Fully foiling: 23; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 32 - Fully foiling: 27; Touch & Go: 5; Touch Down: 0
Crew: Helms: Arnaud Psarofaghis, Maxime Bachelin. Sail Trimmers: Yves Detrey, Bryan Mettraux

American Magic - AC40 and LEQ12 - Day 39 - July 14, 2023 - Barcelona

From the AC37 Joint Recon Team:

Clean and successful windy day for AM today with two boat testing and no issues.

Roll out was 1145hrs for Magic (OD) and 12:20h for America (LEQ12). The lower fence on the starboard foil arm had been removed, the top three ones still in the same spot as yesterday, and some starred signage added.

Dock out was 1356hrs with Goodison, Campbell, Gibs, Calabrese on America and Slingsby, Menninger, Gramm, Melges on Magic.

Both boats rigged jib #3, America on main sail MN#3 and Magic on MN#2 as the wind reading was 16-18kt 190º with 0.5m, 2.8sec 200º wind waves (Sea-state 4 Beaufort).

Sailing began 1426hrs with both boats lining up upwind on starboard tack, America lost control and had to stop 1430hrs.

After a short briefing on Chase-boat4 sailing resumed 1440hs with a short upwind where America pointed higher and gained considerably ground on Magic.

After two tacks they bore away to a long downwind, America faster again, with only three jibes they stopped 1509hrs for a debrief.

Sailing again 1534hrs, first downwind under control and then upwind where America lost control and crashed twice with no consequences.

They finished sailing 1544hrs and dock in was 1607hrs.

It seems AM has finally improved the reliability of their LEQ12 to allow proper two boat testing sessions.

- Lea Sitjà (AC37 Joint Recon team)

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40 and LEQ12 - Day 39 - July 14, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Dock Out: 1356hrs Dock In: 1607hrs
  • Total Tacks: 2 - Fully foiling: 2; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 5 - Fully foiling: 5; 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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