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Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Cup Spy August 30: Lift Off ! Tough seaway tests Cup teams

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 30 Aug 2023 21:50 PDT 31 August 2023
American Magic leaps clear of the water - A nosedive followed - - AC40 - Day 60 - Barcelona - August 30, 2023 © Paul Todd/America's Cup

Barcelona was hit by a couple of squalls/fronts between midnight and 0600hrs with first a southerly breeze averaging over 30kts for an hour, gusting over 40kts, before swinging East and averaging 20-23kts gusting 25kts for a couple of hours. While the winds abated to a 10kt average gusting 15kts from the SSE, there was a very challenging sea state of over 1metre when the four or five teams started sailing.

What happened in the Cup - August 30 2023:

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed two AC40's both in one design mode with the Barker/Robertson co-helmed boat pitched against the Psarofaghis/Bachelin. Their session consisted of a series of races, with the outcomes contained in the AC37 Joint Recon Program report.
  • INEOS Britannia - again pitched T6 against their AC40 OD. They unfortunately dived off a wave and blew the corner out of a J2 jib.
  • American Magic sailed two AC40OD's with Tom Slingsby and Lucas Calabrese co-helming one AC40, with Paul Goodison and Harry Melges co-helming the other. The US team also hit a few good seas, but apparently suffer no significant damage.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand sailed, but there is no report or images available.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli did not sail their LEQ12 out of Sardinia, and apparently did not sail their AC40 OD out of Barcelona
  • Orient Express Racing Team - no report

Commentary: AC40s put to the Sword

The 2024 America's Cup course was traversed by three squalls overnight - creating a very awkward sea state for the four(?) teams that sailed on Wednesday.

The first crossed around 0200hrs, lasted for about 30 minutes and initially with winds averaging 25kts, increasing to an average of 31kts - according to the Predictwind recorder based in Port Olimpic - and reading 12 metres above sea level. Gusts in this squall reached over 44kts - and lasted for about 30 minutes. According to the Port Olimpic station, the wind was swinging from 90 degrees - 180 degrees.

The second crossed the race area at 0430hrs, averaging 20kts, gusting 28kts from ESE 045 degrees - 070 degrees. And the third came through after dawn - around 0630hrs, averaging 22kts and gusting a mere 25kts - that was more from the NE 045 degrees.

So it was small wonder that when the teams ventured out on the water around 1300hrs - or 1330hrs in the British - there was a confused seaway running.

Unfortunately, the wave data turned off mid-morning; from the data stream, wave height was over 1metre at the time of the first squall (0145hrs), reaching 1.38metres about the time of the second (0415hrs) and staying at over 1metre after the third passed at 0745hrs.

The recon teams reported confused seas, and reviewing the video, the AC40s and British sailing their LEQ12, all struggled at times, as they traded off ride height to get clear of the seaway for control.

Some took it a bit far, as seen in the image at the top of this story.

The other point to remember is that the AC40s are understood to be under automated flight control for the foiling height, however, there must be some degree of manual setting/overide.

The British, in their LEQ12 are likely to be on manual flight control - so they can develop a system for the AC75 race boats, which must be flown manually.

All 40fters had a hard time because of their smaller foiling geometry, compared to an AC75 - and the bigger boat would have been much easier to control in these conditions.

In Alinghi Red Bull Racing's highlights video, they seem closer to shore than the other two teams. They have some nasty experiences clawing their way offshore.

What was learned?

Undoubtedly, the AC40s are a bit of a handful in these conditions. They appeared to be sailed more for seamanship than speed. The hull shape - similar in style to the America's Cup Champion Te Rehutai - worked well in the conditions with the bow throwing water in a nosedive and providing good buoyancy without too much hint of an imminent capsize.

Surprisingly, there were no capsizes reported.

Of course, racing in these conditions will be the equivalent of last weekend's F1 Grand Prix at Zandvoort, The Netherlands - in the rain and with the wrong tyres. Like the F1 drivers, the sailors will have to push these boats to the limits - not really knowing where that red line actually lies.

The other point of interest is that we are now well into the time frame in 12 months, when the Challenger Selection Series will be sailed. In the past week or so, this is the third occasion when strong winds - well above racing strength have hit the America's Cup course area.

Weather

The three squalls can be clearly seen in this 24 hour view from Port Olimpic. Unfortunately the 40kt plus windstrength does have the effect of making the "Y" (left hand) scale bigger and harder to read - particularly when the breeze flattened off after 1200hrs and also stabilised in direction, but still with the confused seaway remaining.

The first crossed around 0200hrs, lasted for about 30 minutes and initially with winds averaging 25kts, increasing to an average of 31kts. Gusts in this squall reached over 44kts - and lasted for about 30 minutes. The wind was changing direction through 90 degrees - 180 degrees.

The second crossed the race area at 0430hrs averaging 20kts, gusting 28kts from ESE 045 degrees - 070 degrees. And the third came through after dawn - around 0630hrs averaging 22kts and gusting a mere 25kts - that was more from the NE 045 degrees.

The teams left between 1300hrs and 1330hrs and were back on the dock at 1630hrs for American Magic and INEOS Britannia. Alinghi Red Bull Racing came in an hour later at 1725hrs. By extrapolating those times onto the wind chart, you can see the wind strength and direction at the time the crews were training.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 x2 - Day 52 - August 30, 2023 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out the AC40-7 (RED) at 10:30 in one design mode and craned in shortly after. The AC40-4 (YELLOW) followed at 11:10. Before craning, the yacht was used for a media collaboration with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP team, ahead of the race in Catalunya this weekend. Both boats had one design sails ready for a 13:30 dockout.

[S-W: The Yellow boat was co-helmed by Phil Robertson and Dean Barker, with Jason Waterhouse and Nico Rolaz. The Red boat was co-helmed by Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin, with Yves Detry and Bryan Mettraux.]

The day saw 'Xaloc' South-East winds, fluctuating between 7-12kn, with some gusts touching 15kn later in the day. The sea state from the South-East consisted of an aggressive chop combined with swell, reaching 1.5m in waveheight.

The first stint started from the port entrance at 13:55, moving upwind to avoid waves bouncing from the breakwaters. The second stint involved a short upwind and a long downwind leg to the course start line, with both boats performing synchronized manoeuvres throughout.

During the third stint's pre-start practice, YELLOW [Barker/Robertson] approached the line on starboard while RED [Psarofaghis/Bachelin] came in on port, then forced to pass behind and tack to cross the start line, catching the anchor line of the committee mark in the process. YELLOW completed one lap while RED paused to check for damages but found none.

In the fourth stint, a single-lap race, YELLOW started late. Both boats sailed upwind to the left side of the course. RED nosedived twice downwind, allowing YELLOW to overtake and win at the leeward finish gate.

The 1NM course's orientation was changed from 165 degrees to 150 degrees at 15:30. Concurrently, the One Design J2-1 Jib was swapped for the J2-1 LE jib.

During the fifth stint, a two-lap race was held, YELLOW took the lead at the start, although the recon unit thought they might have been OCS. Both boats misjudged the leeward gate, requiring a double gybe to correct. YELLOW maintained its lead through the second lap and won.

The sixth stint started with both boats nosediving in the pre-start practice. RED recovered faster and won the start, while YELLOW [Barker/Robertson] struggled to get back into contention. After the race restart, YELLOW faltered at the start, enabling RED [Psarofaghis/Bachelin] to keep a close lead and win, despite a big touch-down gybe at the finish line, rounding the starboard mark.

Both boats sailed back to base, lowering their sails in port and docking just before 17:30.

The Recon boat covered 35 Nautical Miles, observing the team for four and a half hours, with 115 minutes of sailing. RED [Psarofaghis/Bachelin] completed 62 manoeuvres, 94% of which were fully foiling.

Crew: Arnaud Psarofaghis, Maxime Bachelin, Phil Robertson, Dean Barker, Nico Rolaz, Bryan Mettraux, Yves Detrey, Jason Waterhouse

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 x2 - Day 52 - August 30, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 25 degreesC overcast
  • Wind Strength 7kts-12kts
  • Wind Direction: 150 degrees - 160 degrees
  • Sea State: 0.6 - 1.2mtr
  • Dockout:1300hrs Dock In: 1720hrs
  • Total Tacks: 35 - Fully foiling: 33; Touch & Go:1; Touch Down: 1
  • Total Gybes: 27- Fully foiling: 25; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 2

American Magic - AC40-OD x 2 - Day 60 - August 30, 2023 - Barcelona

American Magic team rolled their AC40's from the shed at 10:45hrs apparently with the same configuration as yesterday except for another new version of their port Foil Wing as they posted in today's Component Declaration. They proceeded with the mast stepping procedure and by 12:00hrs both boats were in the water. The team docked out at 13:00hrs with Tom Slingsby, Michael Menninger, Andrew Campbell and Lucas Calabrese on board America and Paul Goodison, Harry Melges, Riley Gibbs, and Gramm Severin on board Magic.

They hoisted Main 3 and J2 #4 inside the harbour and started sailing on their own for 24' with 8knts on average and a notable choppy sea state. At 13:48h they began an upwind/downwind that ended up by changing their J2. After some manouvres, they placed two marks and proceeded to practice single lap races.

Very nice starting procedures except for one apparently early start.

The five races consisted of 8 tacks and 6 gybes approximately each. We saw some difficulties approaching the leeward gate, seemingly because of the cavitation caused by the confusing choppy sea state.

They ended the two-hour foiling training doing a large upwind on starboard side foiling high without struggling and bearing away to the port by 16:20hrs where they lowered their sails.

Elia Miquel - Recon Unit NYYC AM

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40-OD x 2 - Day 60 - August 30, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 22 degreesC
  • Wind Strength: 8-13kts
  • Wind Direction: 210 degrees - 245 degrees
  • Sea State: Beaufort 3 Choppy
  • Crane In: 1045hrs Dock Out: 1258hrs
  • Dock In: 1643hrs Crane out: 1750hrs
  • Total Tacks: 52 - Fully foiling: 34; Touch & Go: 10; Touch Down: 9
  • Total Gybes: 35 - Fully foiling: 28; Touch & Go: 5; Touch Down: 2

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

INEOS Britannia - LEQ12/AC40 - Day 74 - August 30, 2023 - Barcelona

From the AC37 Joint Recon Team (Justin Chisholm)

INEOS Britannia's third consecutive day of sailing this week saw the team slot in an intensive two-hour session aboard their LEQ12 test boat T6 in winds that ranged from 8 to over 11 knots and an unpleasant short steep chop sea state.

Having rolled out at 1100hrs and launched a little under 40 minutes later T6 left the dock at 1330hrs with a crew comprising helmsmen Ben Ainslie and Dylan Fletcher along with flight controllers / trimmers Bleddyn Mon and Luke Parkinson and Neil Hunter in the fifth man role in the aft starboard seat.

The M1-2 mainsail (which previously suffered damage to its port skin on August 19) and the J2-2 headsail were up by 1355 before T6 emerged from the harbour at 1415hrs.

Despite the erratic sea state just outside the harbour entrance the British boat was quickly up on its foils on port tack as the crew began a series of upwind/downwind runs that lasted until 1455 when what appeared to be minor nosedive - but at speed - blew the clew off the J2-2 headsail.

A quick change to the J3-2 saw the boat up and foiling again by 1510 for the second - hour long session of windward / leeward sailing.

T6 looked fast and under control in a straight line - perceived to be the focus of the day - but the choppy sea state meant that the - relatively few - manouvres were often less than perfect.

Time was called at 1610hrs with sails down by 1620hrs and the boat back on the dock by 1630hrs.

Session Statistics: INEOS Britannia - LEQ12/AC40 - Day 74 - August 30, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 25 degreesC
  • Wind Strength 7-11kts
  • Wind Direction: 220 degrees-250 degrees
  • Sea State: Steep chop
  • Crane In: 1138hrs Dock Out: 1330hrs
  • Dock In: 1630hrs Crane out: 1655hrs
  • Total Tacks: 7 - Fully foiling: 3; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 1
  • Total Gybes: 10 - Fully foiling: 5; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 1

Crew: Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott, Bleddyn Mon, Luke Parkinson, Ben Cornish, Dylan Fletcher, Iain Jensen, Neil Hunter, Leigh McMillan

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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