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Cup Spy August 21: No wind in Barcelona as 12 month countdown for the Cup begins

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 21 Aug 2023 17:45 PDT 21 August 2023
Emirates Team NZ and American Magic - Day 35 - Barcelona - August 21, 2023 © Job Vermeulen / America's Cup

Three teams ventured out on Monday - now a year and a day from the start of the 2024 America's Cup Regattas. Only one managed to sail - Luna Rossa got another good foiling breeze in Cagliari and were the only one of six teams to sail. At Port Olimpic winds were recorded at an average of 5kts gusting 5.5kts the strongest breeze of the day. On the water the teams saw less than half that wind strength.

What happened in the Cup - August 21, 2023:

  • Luna Rossa sailed their LEQ12 in Cagliari in good foiling test conditions with a 10-15kt breeze and flat seas.
  • American Magic left to go training in Barcelona, but the predicted breeze did not eventuate and the exercise developed into a series of boat and new sail geometry checks.
  • Emirates Team NZ also left with hopes of a breeze, which didn't eventuate. There were some tow starts but this was a day when the Defender recorded zero tacks and gybes.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing did not sail.
  • INEOS Britannia did not attempt sail - as they indicated in their previous report, but will sail on Tuesday.
  • Orient Express Team - no further report beyond their launching of the AC40-OD, they were expected to sail this week. From images shot by other AC37 Joint Recon teams, the team did step the mast on Orient Express Racing's AC40-OD.


From the interviews today with key people from the Defender and Challenger of the 2021 America's Cup, it is clear that Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have different wish-lists when it comes to testing.

Emirates Team New Zealand, having come from a Kiwi summer where breeze and flat water was not usually too hard to find - giving their design and performance team plenty of data for their evaluations and analysis.

In Barcelona the team seem to have got an initial grip on the sea-state, but are now focussed on what happens at the bottom end of the wind-range - both initiating foiling and staying in the air during tacks and gybes.

Older members of the team, and fans will still remember the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup in Valencia in 2007, when in the opening round, five out of six racing days were lost.

Similarly in Cup racing in Auckland when a crucial race was determined by light air foiling ability.

Coach Ray Davies said, that at present in Barcelona, the team were looking for marginal foiling conditions.

"We're hoping to see some really light bottom-end conditions, and our forecasts had enough wind for us to go sailing today. So we went out there and gave it a go.

"We had our sails up, but the most breeze we saw all day was 4.7 knots. So not enough for us today, unfortunately. So that was a shame. That's the first day we've lost so far. We've had a good run up to now," he added.

Davies made it clear that this period was as much a test of comparing their forecasting systems and reality.

"It's really interesting to learn. On days like today, even when our forecasts say one thing and reality is not quite the same. That's learning for us."

As can be seen in the Observations section of Predictwind, there are various weather stations dotted along the Mediterranean coast, and inland, which form part of ETNZ's and other teams weather forecasts and analysis.

"We have observations along the coast, the America's Cup, teams have all joined into a joint weather programme. Between us all were set up six weather stations along the coast. And we can all access that data via Predictwind. And so that's very useful to see how the wind is developing in real time.

"We use various models to predict what's going to happen in the future. "It's a very dynamic region along the coast here. And whether the thermal winds happen or the Levante breeze blows.

"We're learning a lot about the variance between when is a sea breeze going to develop - like yesterday was a beautiful breeze, that the forecast was similar [to today] `where there wasn't much breeze forecast. So we need to try and understand when is it going to be good, When is it not going to happen."

"You have to decide what your priorities are, what you're trying to test. We really want to try and get some light air sailing in. So we're pushing hard to sail and the light winds at the moment.

"But you have to accept some days, it's not going to work out. If we only wanted to sail in 10 knots of wind - we wouldn't have gone sailing today.

"That's the risk you have to take and the investment you have to take - and sometimes you don't quite get enough breeze. So the best thing is to be flexible, and get the latest forecasts and then decide if you leave the dock or not."

"We're obviously going to see light winds in Barcelona. So we have to get used to sailing at the bottom end conditions because we're expecting to have a number of days where there's around six and a half, seven knots of wind."

The minimum wind limit is expected to be set at around 6.5kts for a period until three minutes before the race start, and after that a first leg and then with a race completion deadline. But as we saw in Auckland the AC75's can be off their foils mid-race and recover to still finish in the time-limit.

Over in Cagliari, Sardinia where Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli is based, co-helm Francesco Bruni explains that having sailed in Barcelona the Italian team are looking for a similar sea-state, rather than the flat water they usually enjoy.

"We're really hoping to have more waves for the rest of the session," he told the AC37 Recon team. "Whenever there are good waves we have to jump into the opportunity.

"But today was definitely an easy day, because it was flat water - pretty much - even even when was blowing 16-17 knots. We consider it flat water now, after having been in Barcelona."

Hoping for a better than the vague "it's possible" answer, he received yesterday to a question on linked adjustments, AC37 Recon Team's Michele Melis, a qualified naval architect, again raised the same issue.

"How many gains can be done by linking any trim of the jib with trimming the main? " " I think you can make some gains but the automatic trimming has some limits in some situations," replied Bruni. "When you're linking stuff, it could be good in some ways, but you have to be ready to override it if needed.

"So it's not always the perfect combo, but we're pretty happy with what we have set up. When racing comes is going to be a different story.

Wind readings at Port Olimpic - Barcelona

Weather analysis at Barcelona August 21, 2023:

Neither American Magic or Emirates Team New Zealand found any usable breeze. That which was on offer did not get above 2kts according to the AC37 Joint Recon team following Emirates Team NZ. On the land, it cranked up to 5kts gusting 5.5kts according to the real time weather recording station at Port Oliympic. However that was at 1700hrs - after everyone had long given up and gone home.

In Cagliari, Luna Rossa again got ideal testing conditions with a 10-15kt breeze from 175 degrees (S) with a flat sea. Unfortunately we cannot a weather station that will give the reporting we are need.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Day 84 - August 21, 2023 - Cagliari

The Italian team Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli [LRPP] rolled out their LEQ12 prototype at 11:15hrs, proceeding with the mast stepping procedure and craning the yacht in by 11:30hrs.

Routine checks such as rudder rake, board rise and drops followed as dockout was scheduled for 12:15hrs after having locked in the newest mainsail M1-2.

The forecast looked solid with seabreeze of 10-12kts from 175 degrees-180 degrees True Wind Angle (TWA) with a mostly flat seastate beside some initial light wind chop.

Six crew boarded the prototype and swapped between passenger seats and pods during the whole day even while foiling.

The J1.5 was hoisted by by 13:45hrs and the LEQ12 was foilborne on starboard tack starting the first foiling stint steering the prototype miles offshore for approx. 25 minutes and executing a large number of tacks.

The wind speed was measured at 7-9kts from 145 degrees-150 degrees TWA and the LEQ12 kept maneuvering through the tacks before splashing down executing one tack.

Before starting the second foiling stint, the prototype was observed failing some tacks in marginal breeze conditions and being towed up each time by Chase-2. Once foiling on starboard tack the second foiling stint started lasting approximately 35 minutes.

The Prototype headed downwind for some gybes in light air until finally finding some stronger pressure closer to shore and trimming up on two boards and coming to a stop. The breeze was up to 13-15kts from 175 degrees TWA and the team decided to lower the J1.5 hoisting directly the J4. During the third foiling stint lasting about 35 minutes, the prototype sailed mostly around its Chase boats to entertain the guests and sponsors.

This action included several upwind and downwind maneuvers before coming to a stop and taking a longer break upwind.

The foresail was then lowered and replaced with the J2 with which the LEQ12 completed its last foiling stint sailing for another less than 20 minutes and focusing once again on maneuvers before decelerating in front of the harbour pier.

Sails were lowered by 15:55hrs and the day was called with about 112 minutes of foiling, 37 tacks and 28 gybes.

[Michele Melis AC Recon].

Crew: (Co-Helms): Francesco Bruni, Jimmy Spithill, Andrea Tesei, Umberto Molineris

Session Statistics: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Day 84 - August 21, 2023 - Cagliari

  • Weather: Sunshine, 27 degrees
  • Wind Strength 10-15kts
  • Wind Direction: 175 degrees
  • Sea State: Light chop
  • Dockout: 1215hrs Dock In: 1605hrs
  • Total Tacks: 37 - Fully foiling: 29; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 4
  • Total Gybes: 28 - Fully foiling: 22; Touch & Go: 5; Touch Down: 1

Emirates Team NZ - AC75/B2 - Day 35 - August 21, 2023 - Barcelona

From the AC37 Joint Recon Team:

ETNZ rolled out their B2 AC75 from the shed at 10.35hrs. The boat was craned to the water at 11:10hrs and the team docked out at 12.03hrs, as planned. The M1 [mainsail] and the J1 [Jib] were hoisted inside the port at 12:15hrs and 12:18hrs, respectively; and were the only sails used during the day.

After towing out and once at the racing area, the team waited for the wind intensity to increase for one hour and a half. However, it never filled in.

At 12:55hrs ETNZ tried to take-off on the tow with assistance of their chase boat, with 1.9kts of true wind speed measured at sea level.

Immediately after they got released, the boat fell from the foils and landed completely. Then the waiting continued until 14.00hrs.

At 14:05hrs Te Rehutai was towed back to the port. Sails were lowered at 14:15hrs, the boat was back in the dock at 14:20hrs, craned out at 14:50hrs and back in the shed at 15:20hrs.

The wind conditions did not allow any sailing at all today.

Sebastian Peri Brusa - Recon on ETNZ

Session Statistics: Emirates Team NZ - AC75/B2 - Day 35 - August 21, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 31°C Sunny
  • Wind Strength: 1.1 - 1.8kts
  • Wind Direction: 085 degrees - 100 degrees
  • Sea State: Completely flat
  • Crane In: 1110hrs Dock Out: 1203hrs
  • Dock In: 1420hrs Crane out: 1450hrs
  • Total Tacks: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Nathan Outteridge, Peter Burling, Andy Maloney, Blair Tuke

American Magic - LEQ12 - August 21, 2023 - Barcelona

A two boat sailing program for today turned out to be an unfortunately very short day in the water for the NYYC American Magic.

The Roll out started to go out of the shed at 11:15hrs and they docked out at 13:15hrs. America ported a gullwing stock foil AM-LEQ-FW3 B #3 with elevated tips.

Their second AC40 - Magic had a One design T foil on the starboard side and a AM-LEQ-FW3 B #3 T foil on port side with elevated tips.

With a maximum of 2kts from 125° and a flat sea, both boats rigged the main sail. The AC40-5 LEQ12 America hoisted the Jib #2 at @13:51 and dropped it 7min later, changing it for Jib #1, which have been hoisted two times.

By 14:27hrs Magic was towed without their main sail for about five minutes without foiling and then towed back to the port.

Riley Gibbs in the interview (video below) said they did have some new sails with them which were hoisted to check the geometry of the sails was correct, before they were used in testing, later in the week.

Session Statistics: American Magic - LEQ12 - August 21, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 31°C Sunny
  • Wind Strength: 1.5kts
  • Wind Direction: 125°
  • Sea State: Completely flat
  • Crane In: 1115hrs Dock Out: 1315hrs
  • Dock In: 1450hrs Crane out: 1700hrs
  • Total Tacks: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Tom Slingsby, Bora Gulari, Michael Menninger, Andrew Campbell, Finn Rowe, Lucas Calabrese, Paul Goodison, Severin Gramm, Riley Gibbs

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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