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Cup Spy August 16: French launch AC40, Brits change gear in their testing program

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 16 Aug 2023 21:33 PDT 17 August 2023
INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - T6 and AC40OD - Day 68 - August 16, 2023 - Barcelona © Ugo Fonolla / America's Cup

Three teams trained out of Barcelona on Wednesday in light winds. The British shifted into a new phase testing running their AC40 One Design against their custom design T6. The French team have launched their AC40 from their base in Barcelona.

What happened in the Cup - August 16 2023:

  • INEOS Britannia started two boat testing with their AC40 One Design against their T6 custom design test boat.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand sailed their AC75 in light winds below the racing windstrength
  • American Magic sailed their two AC40/LEQ12s continuing their wing foil testing of Tuesday.
  • Orient Express Racing Team (formerly K-Challenge) have taken delivery of their AC40, commissioned and launched it today.
  • Luna Rossa did not sail.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing did not sail.


Three teams got into their work on Wednesday, with the British and US teams sailing two 40fters in two boat testing, while the Kiwis got some light air sailing practice in their AC75.

The breeze off Barcelona, like yesterday was insufficient for solid speed training - which requires the waves/swell to be aligned with the breeze direction to give a even reading on both tacks.

The principal benefit of sailing off Barcelona at present is to assess the sea state and run that through the various simulators and performance prediction applications, and draw conclusions with the flat water conditions they have enjoyed to date at their home bases.

What is not known at this stage is the percentage of days will be sea-state affected, and indeed if the sea-state off Barcelona - where the crews have reported swells and wind chop coming from three directions, proves to be a significant issue.

The American Magic AC37 Recon crew reported the difficult conditions today with a 100° variation between the swell axis and wind direction: "when the wind came back initially with 5-7kt breeze from 060°. The sea state was worse than yesterday with a bigger swell of 1m, 5sec intervals from 160°."

The French team, Orient Express Racing Team, the last to lodge their Notice of Challenge for the America's Cup, took delivery of their AC40 from McConaghy Boats, five days ago. It emerged from the team's base in Barcelona today and was launched with the usual ceremony. It is expected that they will follow the normal pattern and do tow testing plus other commissioning exercises, before their first sail.

To date 12 AC40's have been built - for which nine are now accounted for amongst the America's Cup teams.

Weather conditions at Barcelona August 16, 2023:

On the water, on August 16, the weather station at Port Olimpic reported the breeze as being a little stronger when the teams first went out around 1200hrs- 1300hrs being a 10kt gusting over 12kts for a brief period before dropping back to 5kts around 1230hrs and then being quite variable in pressure between 0kts - 7.5kts all afternoon.

The wave recordings off Barcelona were 0.8metres in the morning (0600hrs - 1200hrs) easing back to 0.6metres to 0.7metres, before settling in at 0.7metres at 1800hrs. The Kiwis came off the water at 1500hrs, with the USA following at 1745hrs and the British calling it a day at 1830hrs.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

INEOS Britannia - AC40/LEQ12 - Day - August 16, 2023 - Barcelona

From the AC37 Joint Recon Team (Justin Chisholm)

INEOS Britannia had a busy day for their first sailing session this week with both their LEQ12 test boat T6 and their AC40 out on the water.

T6 was the first boat to be rolled out at 1100 1100 with mast setup complete by 1145hrs and the boat craned into the water at 1151hrs.

The British AC40 was rolled out at 1200hrs and after an hour of rigging the one design boat was launched shortly before T6 docked out at 1300hrs.

T6 left the harbour at 1345hrs with the M1-2 mainsail and J1-2 headsail hoisted. With little to no wind outside the breakwater the silver boat was towed around on two foils for around 25 minutes – presumably as part of a data gathering exercise. By 1410hrs a fitful 5-6 knot easterly breeze was starting to fill in and enabled T6 to get foiling from the tow line. The boat was only airborne for a couple of minutes however and by 1415 was back on a bow tow.

Two more sub-two-minute flights followed before enough breeze materialised for a 60 minute windward/leeward foiling session. A headsail change to the J2-1 was followed by an hour-long session of two boat straight line testing in concert with the AC40. (Note: Ben Ainslie switched from T6 to the AC40 at this point – see crew configurations below).

After a short break, at 1720hrs the two boats set off back upwind for another long straight line upwind session which was curtailed by what appeared to be a breakdown on the AC40. We could not identify the issue but the focus of attention seemed to be around the base of the mast. With no fix possible on the water, sails were dropped on the AC40 while T6 sailed back downwind to the harbour.

The five gybes carried out on this run did not go well with the boat touching down on each one and submarining its way out of at least one of them. T6 returned to the harbour at 1813hrs and docked in at 1838hrs with the AC40 arriving a few minutes later. The team intends to run a second day of two boat testing tomorrow (Thursday August 17).

Session Statistics: INEOS Britannia - AC40/LEQ12 - Day - August 16, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 29°C
  • Wind Strength 6-10kts
  • Wind Direction: 080°-090°
  • Sea State: Light to moderate chop
  • Crane In: 1151hrs Dock Out: 1300hrs
  • Dock In: 1838hrs Crane out: 1910hrs
  • Total Tacks: 16 - Fully foiling: 10; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 3
  • Total Gybes: 16 - Fully foiling: 5; Touch & Go: 6; Touch Down: 5

American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 - August 16, 2023 - Barcelona

From the AC37 Joint Recon Team:

Two boat light wind testing for NYAM with yet another foil wing modification. Roll out was at 10:30hrs for America with the same gear as yesterday and at 11:15hrs for Magic with version H of the port wing foil painted in matt silver with full white tips.

Dock out was at 13:00hrs and by the time they went out of the port the wind had died to nothing ahead of a light shower.

They tried some towing assisted take-off without success and we had to wait until at 14:52hrs when the wind came back initially with 5-7kt breeze from 060°. The sea state was worse than yesterday with a bigger swell of 1m, 5sec intervals from 160°.

Crewing on Magic were Tom, Bora, Severin and Riley while Paul, Lucas, Andrew and Michael were on America but they did some crew rotations during the day as Harry and Finn sailed as well. They started one first stint with long tacks that lasted for 1h 11mins in which Magic sailed at much better angles than America, up or downwind on both tacks, and was earlier taking off too. They stopped briefly to replace batteries and change jibs J#1 with J#2 as the wind had increased gusting now up to 10kts.

At that stage America broke the jib#2 halyard, or came completely loose, but it was easily fixed after a quick stop. A second stint started at 16:40hrs in which America showed much better angles this time so they must have changed something in their settings that unfortunately we could not identify. They finished the day sailing into the port at 17:13hrs and docking in at 17:43hrs.

Lea Sitjà, Recon Unit NYAM.

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 - August 16, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny
  • Wind Strength 5-10kts
  • Wind Direction: 060° - 070° degrees
  • Sea State:0.5m windchop from 170° and 1m swell from 160°
  • Roll out: 1030hrs Dock Out: 1259hrs
  • Dock In: 1743hrs Crane Out: 1812hrs

Emirates Team New Zealand - AC75 - August 16, 2023 - Barcelona

ETNZ rolled out their B2 AC75 from the shed at 10.33 am. The boat was craned to the water at 11:05 and the team docked out at 12.00. The M1 and the J2 were hoisted inside the port at 12:10 and 12:14, respectively; and were the only sails used during the day.

Today´s training consisted of mostly sailing on a straight line, dealing with the tricky conditions that prevailed during the entire day. Very light winds, 3 to 5 knots of true wind speed measured at sea level, from an average wind direction of 80; combined with a very uncomfortable swell and chop from 110°. In addition, many different low clouds came into play during the session, affecting wind direction and intensity.

ETNZ started the day sailing upwind for approximately one hour. It seemed like the team´s interest was especially on sailing against the wind. The conditions demanded the helmsmen to be changing their course much more often than average days, while trimmers and flight controllers remained very active working on all elements, always with the objective to achieve a stable boat.

After that long upwind and being pretty far away, the team decided to tow back to the race area which took approximately twenty five minutes. Once back, the wind got lighter and ETNZ needed towing assistance in two opportunities to be able to take-off. True wind speed measured at sea level in those moments was under three knots and a half.

It called our attention that in those conditions ETNZ did not decide to change their J2 for the J1. This combined with the camera set on the port side close to the front part of the jib pointing up during the last two days, and the fact that a lot of attention onboard was given to the J2 (as it can be seen in the pictures), could be indicators of changes performed to their J2.

As regards maneuvers, today ETNZ did in total 19 tacks and 10 gybes, standing on their foils or slightly touching and going on almost all tacks, but having more difficulties on the gybes, especially on the lulls. It was not an easy task at all in that disorganized swell and chop pattern, combined with non-extra windspeed for maneuvering the AC75.

Te Rehutai was towed back to the port when the wind died completely. Sails were lowered at 14:48, the boat was back in the dock at 14:55, craned out at 15:20 and back in the shed at 15:50.

Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on ETNZ

Crew: (Co-Helms): Peter Burling, Nathan Outteridge, Andy Maloney, Blair Tuke.

Session Statistics: Emirates Team New Zealand - AC75 - August 16, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunshine, 29°
  • Wind Strength 2kts- 5.7kts.
  • Wind Direction: 75° - 090°
  • Sea State: 0.73mtr Swell and Chop
  • Dockout: 1200hrs Dock In: 1455hrs
  • Total Tacks: 19 - Fully foiling: 10; Touch & Go: 8; Touch Down: 1
  • Total Gybes: 10 - Fully foiling: 6; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 4

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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