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Cup Spy August 23: Wind arrives late in the day; Italians blast away

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 23 Aug 2023 17:03 PDT 24 August 2023
Luna Rossa - LEQ12 - Day 86 - Cagliari - August 23, 2023 © Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

Three Cup Challengers again wanted to sail on Wednesday, but the breeze was a late-show after two days of no-show.

No racing was possible in the TP52 Worlds, also being staged in Barcelona, and racing was called off mid-afternoon.

What happened in the Cup - August 23 2023:

  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - The Italians enjoyed a 10-13kt breeze and 27°C temperatures. They did not get their wish for a wavy seastate, and enjoyed flat water for the day.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing - got foiling late in the day, when a 4-6kt breeze arrived from 180° (S) after swinging from the East.
  • American Magic - despite the light winds the US team did get foiling with two AC-40's with the AC37 Joint Recon observer calling the day a productive one for the US team. In the interview Michael Menninger says they saw breezes of up to 9kts
  • Orient Express Racing Team - no report.
  • INEOS Britannia - remained ashore
  • Emirates Team New Zealand did not sail


As the European Summer changes to Autumn, two successive days without wind, almost became three.

The fleet of TP52s gathered in Barcelona for their World Championships were similarly affected, and again had no racing.

However a breeze of sorts arrived around 1500hrs and slowly built into a useful light air testing breeze - but not of the quality or quantity experienced in Cagliari, where Luna Rossa have chosen to remain and continue testing in their LEQ12. The Italians do seem to have kept their focus over the past few weeks, without the distraction of a move to Barcelona, coupled with the funky winds which seem to be characteristic of the America's Cup venue.

The top of report image of Luna Rossa's LEQ12 is interesting from a couple of perspectives. Firstly the close proximity of the hull to the water surface, setting up the most efficient end plate between the hull and the rig, with a minimum of turbulence affecting the lower part of the rig. It is not known if the Italians are flying on auto-light control in their LEQ12, or if they are running a manual system. If the latter they have done well, and that should carry over into their race boat.

In contrast, the teams sailing AC40's as either One-Designs or test boats, have to use an auto-pilot as it is the only control system on the AC40.

The other point is the tip of the immersed wingfoil piecing the surface, the teams don't seem to be too worried about this phenomenon, and it is significant that the wingtip is creating some disturbance as it cuts the surface. Although there has been no comment, our guess is that the wave piercing wingtip is a trade-off for the LEQ12 being heeled slightly to windward, with the leeward foil arm extended to its maximum width.

Interestingly the AC37 Joint Recon team reports that the inboard tip was removed from this test foil for today's session in Cagliari.

However the sobering takeout from this week - which marks both the 172nd anniversary of the winning of the £100 Cup, which went on to become the America's Cup; and the start of the 12 month countdown to the start of Challenger racing for the Victorian ewer - is that for the first three days of this week the Barcelona breeze would not have reached the 6.5kt minimum for a race start.

Weather conditions at Barcelona August 23, 2023:

On the water, on August 23, the AC37 Recon teams reported slightly different winds to those recorded at Port Olimpic. The AC37 Joint Recon team following Alinghi Red Bull Racing reported winds between 4-6kts, while American Magic got 2-8kts.

At Port Olimpic, on the edge of the sailing area, and 12 metres above sea level, the breeze flicked between 2-3kts from 1000hrs until 1230hrs, building to 4kts for an hour before collapsing again, and finally building to 5.5kts gusting 6.5kts - the minimum for starting a Cup race.

The forecast for Thursday is 8-10kts from 180° (S).

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Day 86 - August 23, 2023 - Cagliari

The Italian team Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli rolled out their LEQ12 prototype at 12:20hrs, proceeding with the mast stepping procedure and craning the yacht in by 12:35hrs.

It has been noted that the inboard tip winglet on the port side anhedral wing has been removed.

Routine checks followed and dockout was scheduled for 13:40 after having locked in newer mainsail M1-2 pairing it later with the J1.5 jib.

The seabreeze was building up and the anemometer displayed 9-11kt from 175 True Wind Angle (TWA) with an overall flat seastate beside some light chop.

Six crew boarded the prototype which was then towed up foilborne on port tack at the beginning of the first foiling stint. The usual warm up tacks were executed until the LEQ12 fell hull-borne exiting one tack from starboard to port tack, which the appeared to happen several times.

After a quick debrief, the second foiling stint began when the LEQ12 performed a self take off at approximately 85° True Wind Angle (TWA) and 17kts boat speed and kept on running through tacks upwind before bearing away for some gybes and repeating this routine.

In the meanwhile Chase-2 laid out a leeward gate without any physical mark windward, perhaps sometime employing a virtual mark which was marked on the Recon Unit Chase GPS. After a downwind leg, the LEQ12 trimmed up and stopped for a while.

The yacht was then towed up to practice a prestart with time on distance after which it sailed on course for some laps before splashing hull-borne on another tack maneuver. The J1.5 was lowered as the breeze increased to approximately 12-13kn to hoist the J2.

On the next foiling stint, the LEQ12 was towed up and quickly headed downwind to the leeward gate for another prestart practice, nailing the clock, starting the first upwind leg but splashing down on the first downwind gybe.

Towed up by Chase2, in the last foiling stint, the LEQ12 kept on sailing around the marks for two legs before heading downwind to the harbour and stopping. On this day the team had a lower success rate for foil-to-foil maneuvers, perhaps running new presets for the transitions.

Sails were lowered by 15:55 and the day was called with approx. 101 minutes of foiling, approx. 32 tacks and 25 gybes.

[Michele Melis AC Recon].

Crew: (Co-Helms): Francesco Bruni, Jimmy Spithill, Vittorio Bissaro Umberto Molineris

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

  • Weather: Sunshine, 27 degrees
  • Wind Strength 9-13kts
  • Wind Direction: 175°
  • Sea State: Light chop
  • Dockout: 1340hrs Dock In: 1600hrs
  • Total Tacks: 32 - Fully foiling: 23; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 5
  • Total Gybes: 25 - Fully foiling: 18; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 4

Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC75/B1 - Day 81 - August 23, 2023 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC75 at 11:00hrs, a late start in anticipation of thermal winds later in the afternoon. It was immediately noted that the old mainsheet system was on deck(commonly used with the M1-1R mainsail) with a shore team member mounting a GoPro at the end of the main hydraulic actuator. A Harken Performa winch was positioned at the rear of the starboard cockpit, though the purpose remains unknown.

The team docked out at 13:00hrs, hoisted the M1-1R mainsail within the port, then towed the yacht southward, to sail in front of the airport and Castelldefels for the day. The J1-1R jib was hoisted and sailing commenced at 14:25hrs. The predominant 'Garbi' thermal wind blew from the southwest, with speeds fluctuating between 5-7kts, and later settling to 4-5kts. Sea state was mostly flat.

During the first stint, the team managed to get the yacht foiling in some of the lightest conditions they’ve managed so far, close to the limit in maintaining flight, sailing an upwind-downwind-upwind .

The second stint saw another upwind-downwind, as Yves Detrey inspected the sail trim and systems, with Jason Waterhouse presumably in his place on starboard trim.

In the third stint, a pre-start practice was undertaken with chase boats doubling as the starting gate. Post start, the yacht executed a tack and then bore away shortly, returning back to rotate cyclors. Nico Stahlberg remained in position, as Arthur Cevey, Barnabé Delarze, and Florian Trüb made way for Théry Schir, Augustin Maillefer, and Nils Theuninck.

The fourth stint saw a bear away and gybe, and then sailing upwind after rounding a chase boat, before transitioning downwind. The fifth stint involved three attempts at pre-start practices. However, the decreasing wind conditions impeded consistent full foiling manoeuvres. The sixth and final stint of the day necessitated two tow starts due to the average wind of 5 knots: one at the beginning and another after a touch-down gybe.

Sails were dropped at 17:45hrs and the yacht was towed back to base.

The team spent over 5 hours on water, covering a distance of 70Nnm in this timespan, 130 minutes were spent sailing, during which 40 manoeuvres were performed, 53% fully foiling. The balance in performance between tacks and gybes appeared fairly even.

Crew: Arnaud Psarofaghis, Maxime Bachelin, Bryan Mettraux, Yves Detrey, Jason Waterhouse

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC75/B1 - Day 81 - August 23, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 34°C
  • Wind Strength 4kts-6kts (from AC37 Recon boat)
  • Wind Direction: 230°
  • Sea State: 0.3mtr
  • Dockout: 1300hrs Dock In: 1815hrs
  • Total Tacks: 18 - Fully foiling: 9; Touch & Go:5; Touch Down: 4
  • Total Gybes: 22 - Fully foiling: 12; Touch & Go:3; Touch Down: 7

American Magic - LEQ12 x 2 - Day 56 - August 23, 2023 - Barcelona

Two boat light wind testing for NYAM with yet another foil wing and foil flap modification. Roll out was 11:15h for America; with a black gull-wing foil with elevated tips and a spat on starboard side and the new C silver version with elevated tips on port side, and Magic; with the black one design T foil on starboard and the version H of the port wing foil painted in matt silver with full white tips.

Dock out was 13:26hrs with Tom, Michael, Andrew and Harry in America and Lucas, Paul, Severin and Riley in Magic.

By the time they went out of the port the wind was barely reaching 3kts from 115°. At 13:52hrs both boats hoisted the main and Magic started foiling at 14:04hrs for 6min with a towing start assistance.

By 14:18hrs they both hoisted #J1 and did some line up testing until America ventilated at 14:58hrs and had to stop and check on their new wing port foil. The upwind line up testing carried on with fully foiling tacks that ended 12nm far from shore. Then they did a long bear away before changing their batteries. At 16:25hrs the wind increased slightly and we saw Magic doing a pretty good angle leeward and windward.

A touch down tack from America made them stop and started solo sailing as Magic went back to port at 16:54hrs.

They kept sailing until 18:44hrs. It ended being a long and productive day in the water for the NYYC American Magic.

Crew: Tom Slingsby, Harry Melges, Michael Menninger, Andrew Campbell, Lucas Calabrese, Paul Goodison, Riley Gibbs, Severin Gramm

[Elia Miquel, Recon Unit NYAM.]

Session Statistics: American Magic - LEQ12 x 2 - Day 56 - August 23, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 36°
  • Wind Strength: 2-8kts
  • Wind Direction: 215° - 225°
  • Sea State:
  • Crane In: 1115hrs Dock Out: 1326hrs
  • Dock In: 1820hrs Crane out: 1920hrs
  • Total Tacks: 13 - Fully foiling: 9; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 3
  • Total Gybes: 5 - Fully foiling: 5; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

Crew: America: Tom Slingsby, Lucas Calabrese, Michael Menninger, Andrew Campbell; Magic: Paul Goodison, Harry Melges, Riley Gibbs, Severin Gramm

Additional Images:

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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