Please select your home edition

Cup Spy Sept 22-23: Swiss coy about new flight control

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 25 Sep 01:59 PDT 23 September 2023
Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 - Day 7 - Barcelona - September 22, 2023 © Alex Carabi / America's Cup

The week ended with several America's Cup team members competing in the Italy SailGP, with AC co-helms finishing in the top four places on the leaderboard. The testing continued off Barcelona, with the Swiss and Brits testing sails and foils. Before all that, of course, was the first Preliminary Event, in Vilanova.

What happened in the Cup - September 22-23, 2023:

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing - On Saturday (Sept 23) the Swiss team undertook tow testing of what is believed to be a new foil control system developed by the Swiss team, despite assertions that their intention was to sail, it seems no sails were hoisted. On Friday (Sept 22) the Swiss continued sail testing in their AC40/LEQ12 test boat, after fitting additional GoPro cameras to monitor sail shape.
  • INEOS Britannia - Sailed on Friday (Sept 22) on their test platform T6, but they found cracks in their new test foil and decided to call a halt to the session so it could be checked at the base. Many of the British team competed in Italy SailGP, with Ben Ainslie skippering Emirates GB to their second successive win.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand - No report, meaning either they did not sail, or sailed only in their AC40-One Design and were not accompanied by the AC37 Joint Recon program team. Due to being without a wingsail for the weekend's Italy SailGP, in Taranto, the sailing team did not participate.
  • American Magic - No report, meaning either they did not sail, or sailed only in their AC40-One Design and were not accompanied by the AC37 Joint Recon program team. Co-helmsman Tom Slingsby competed in Italy SailGP placing second overall.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - No report, meaning either they did not sail, or sailed only in their AC40-One Design and were not accompanied by the AC37 Joint Recon program team. Co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill competed in Italy SailGP placing third overall.
  • Orient Express Racing Team - No report, meaning either they did not sail, or sailed only in their AC40-One Design and were not accompanied by the AC37 Joint Recon program team. The French team participated in Italy SailGP regatta in Taranto, finishing fourth.


For the six teams contesting the 2024 America's Cup It was an interesting but unremarkable fortnight - which is maybe more notable for the fact that this time in 12 months, we will be in, or close, to the start of the Final Series of the Challenger Selection Series. For the winning Challenger and the Defender, the America's Cup Match itself starts in just over two weeks - 12 months hence.

The week started in the aftermath of the first of the Preliminary Events, sailed in AC40 One-Designs off Vilanova, 25nm down the coast in the direction of Gibraltar.

Two of the teams were a standout - American Magic and Emirates Team New Zealand, being around ten points clear of the rest on the points table.

Probably no team can come away with a list of only a few work-ons. We'll have to wait until Jeddah to see how the AC40 works in match racing.

Surprise of the first Preliminary Event was the British finishing a very safe last - looking very like they did in Auckland. Their situation is even more perplexing in that many of the sailors in the Emirates GB F50 team won both the France and Italy SailGP regattas, which sandwiched the Vilanova event. How can you be at the front of the fleet one weekend, down the back in the next, and back up the front in the third - and sailing all three weeks in one-design boats?

The Italians and Swiss had their moments - with both suffering breakdowns, which didn't help their pointscore. The common point was that teams had been more focused on their AC75 development programs and design testing, without needing the distraction of an AC40 regatta.

Three teams had two AC40s, while the other half only had one - and without the opportunity to do some contested in-house practice racing.

With the first Preliminary Event consigned to the record books, attention turned as to who was going to resume test sailing and when.

Alinghi Red Bull Rowing did a high speed 90 minute tow back to Barcelona, dropped a new crew aboard along with a bunch of new test sails and resumed their test program that day, and continued to sail on three of the five days of the week. They had a base opening ceremony last Thursday, which curtailed sailing activities

American Magic wasn't back into the testing harness with quite the same alacrity as the Swiss, but they sailed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in their AC40 set up as a test boat. Tom Slingsby was unavailable for the Thursday with SailGP commitments, and Lucas Calabrese took over the vacated co-helm seat - keeping the show on the water.

The test kit that has unveiled this week has been interesting - leaving those on the sidelines to guess at what works and what doesn't. The Swiss came out with sails that were obviously notable for their arrow formation of tell-tales. But just off photos, the new designs looked interesting and powerful.

It was the Swiss who showed off their "tubercle" wing foils a few months ago. This week the Brits revealed their latest - "the Fence" - a series of small frames mounted on the leading edge of one of the wingfoils - designed to reduce the potential for the spread of lift destroying foil ventilation. The sharp eyes in the AC37 Joint Recon team claim they have uncovered some design and system innovations on the Swiss boats.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC40-4/LEQ12 - Day 7 - September 23, 2023 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out the AC40–4 at 12:00 with one design foils in place. The mast, equipped with GoPros at the masthead, (same mast as previous day on the AC40-7), was stepped before craning in.

A significant focus on the cockpit during pre-sailing checks indicated potential adjustments or work on the Flight Control System (FCS). Electronics, Hydraulics and IT engineers were seen on board, congregating around the starboard cockpit. The top of a flight controller was spotted in the cockpit, the same as used on boat zero. Better photos of this can be found in the ‘Photos of Interest’ (reproduced below).

The AC75 was rolled out briefly, with the American Magic rudder (AC75_R1) back on.

The team docked out at 14:35 without sails on deck. In open water, tow testing began. An initial 5nm tow test was carried out, with foils canted at a range of angles, with the yacht clearly flying on manual control, evident by the yacht's inconsistent steadiness. Engineers were seen on-board and inspecting below-deck systems. A subsequent tow test of 2.5nm towards Badalona included a brief halt after just a few minutes, signalled by a trimmer.

On reaching Badalona, the team spent five minutes in the area, presumably determining whether to sail. With wind averaging less than 6 knots, the yacht was towed back to base. Despite available sails on the chase boat, no sailing occurred. The day featured light south winds of around 4-6kn and a 0.8m swell from the southeast, with a 5 second period.

The team docked in just after 16:00, offloaded sails from the chase boat and craned out the AC40 at 16:25.

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC40/LEQ12 - Day 7 - September 23, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: clearing skies 24°C
  • Wind Strength 4-6kts
  • Wind Direction:180°
  • Sea State: 0.8mtr swell 150°
  • Crane In: 1240hrs Dock Out: 1435hrs
  • Dock In: 1605hrs Crane out: 1625hrs
  • Towing only - no sailing.

INEOS Britannia - LEQ12/T6 - Day 76 - September 22, 2023 - Barcelona

From the AC37 Joint Recon Team (Justin Chisholm)

INEOS Britannia's second day of testing aboard their T6 LEQ12 test boat was cut short today after the crew discovered an (unidentified) issue with the upper surface of the outboard section of the yacht's starboard 'banana' foil.

After rolling out on time at 1000 and launching at 1040, T6 left the harbour mouth at 1245 and by 1305 the M2-2 mainsail and J3-2 headsail were hoisted in anticipation of a forecast of winds up to 15 knots during the afternoon. The boat was soon up and foiling in a southerly breeze touching 8 knots and the crew set about running through their testing schedule for the day. After running out of breeze offshore around 1340 T6 was foil-towed north back into a building 8 knot breeze.

Shortly after setting off on a fast (32 knots) downwind run on port the crew suddenly rounded up and tacked before stopping. A crew member was observed climbing out to inspect and photograph the upper outboard surface of the starboard foil. Shortly afterwards T6 boat captain Chris Schirmer was dropped on board from a chase boat and did the same thing.

After a period of consultation on board the crew set off back towards the harbour on port in displacement mode at around 8 - 10 knots. At 1430 they stopped to drop sails before continuing back to the harbour in displacement mode on a bow tow. Dock in was at 1518.

The British team is not scheduled to sail until Tuesday September 26 earliest.

Crew: Dylan Fletcher, Giles Scott, Bleddyn Mon, Leigh McMillan, Ben Cornish (5th man)

Session Statistics: INEOS Britannia - LEQ12/T6 - Day 76 - September 22, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: clearing skies 25°C
  • Wind Strength 7-10kts
  • Wind Direction:140° - 180°
  • Sea State: 1mtr swell and slight chop
  • Crane In: 1040hrs Dock Out: 1228hrs
  • Dock In: 1518hrs Crane out: 1550hrs
  • Total Tacks: 6 - Fully foiling: 1; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 3
  • Total Gybes: 1 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 1

Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC40-7/LEQ12 - Day 7 - September 22, 2023 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC40–7 at 9:30hrs. The yacht was equipped with one design foils. Before stepping the mast, two GoPros were attached to the masthead, aimed to capture footage from each side of the mainsail. More GoPros were added to the sheerline, at the bow, centre of jib and centre of mainsail.

The yacht was subsequently craned in and placed alongside the chase boat. Pre-sailing checks were executed, during which the IT manager was observed working on the communication systems through the rudder quadrant access hatch. A communications issue caused a delay to the dock out time, with a faulty cable identified as the culprit. Once the issue was addressed, the team proceeded to dock out at 13:15. They hoisted the M1-2 OD mainsail and the J2-1 LE jib in the port, commencing sailing from the port entrance at 13:40.

Wind conditions varied during the session. In the southern sailing area, outside the freeport, lighter winds prevailed, making it ideal for J2 testing. As they sailed north towards the Badalona area, stronger winds were encountered, in line with the team’s forecast, proving conducive for J3 testing. Maximum wind strength reported by the sailors was read at 18 knots towards the end of the day.

A significant South swell was present, peaking at 1.5m with a 7 second period.

The team undertook four phases to test and compare LE jibs vs OD jibs, on long stretches of approximately 3NM in each direction. The first phase involved testing the J2-1 LE jib, with extended upwind and downwind stretches outside of the freeport, with a stop after 30 minutes to adjust the jib sheet clew position. The second phase transitioned to the J2-1 OD jib, maintaining the prolonged stretches of sailing in both directions. In the third phase, the J3-1 LE jib was tested, where they sailed a long downwind towards Badalona, followed by a short upwind, as wind speed began to increase. Further adjustments were made to the jib clew position and batten tension. The final phase saw the testing of the J3-1 OD, sailing a similar course to the previous stint, ending with a few tacks in quick succession before dropping the sails.

All the jibs used today featured identical tell-tale formations, with added tell-tales along the luff, and square formations in the tack (25 tell tales) and clew (22 tell tales). The Vilanova race crew sailed throughout the whole session, with no substitutions made.

The team spent three and a half hours on the water, covering 55NM, of which 115 minutes were spent sailing. 19 manoeuvres were performed, all of which were fully foiling.

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC40-7/LEQ12 - Day 7 - September 22, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Clearing skies 26°C
  • Wind Strength 8-17kts
  • Wind Direction:150° - 160°
  • Sea State: 1.5mtr swell from 185°chop and windchop
  • Crane In: 1005hrs Dock Out: 1315hrs
  • Dock In: 1635hrs Crane out: 1650hrs
  • Total Tacks: 13 - Fully foiling: 13; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 6 - Fully foiling: 6; 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.

Related Articles

America's Cup: Quotes from the boats - Race Day 3
13 sailors look back on their performance in the event, and where they are going to focus now 13 sailors reflect on the highs and lows of their day, look back on their performance in the event, and where they are going to focus in the months until the launch of their AC75 raceboat. Posted on 2 Dec
America's Cup Preliminary Regatta overall
A solid 16-20 knot breeze and a lumpy, challenging sea-state for the final day It was thrilling. It was tense. But Emirates Team New Zealand laid it all on the line, sailed accurately and consistently on the day and aced the Grand Final from start to finish to win the America's Cup Preliminary Regatta Jeddah, presented by NEOM. Posted on 2 Dec
Alinghi Red Bull Racing at America's Cup Jeddah
We're in the mix Alinghi Red Bull Racing finished third in the overall standings on Saturday in the second America's Cup preliminary regatta in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Posted on 2 Dec
Emirates Team New Zealand win in Jeddah
A dramatically tough America's Cup Preliminary Regatta Emirates Team New Zealand have won a dramatically tough America's Cup Preliminary Regatta Jeddah presented by NEOM. Posted on 2 Dec
America's Cup: Day 3 - Cup champs win frisky Final
An Italian nosedive handed Emirates Team NZ the second Preliminary Event of the 2024 America's Cup Emirates Team New Zealand won the Final Race of the second America's Cup Preliminary Event after a close run battle for five legs, but which ended in an anti-climax on the final mark rounding. Posted on 2 Dec
America's Cup: Quotes from the boats - Race Day 2
From the America's Cup Mixed Zone, the sailors give their thoughts From the America's Cup Mixed Zone, the sailors give their thoughts on an exciting and challenging Race Day 2 Posted on 2 Dec
All-in on Saturday for Alinghi Red Bull Racing
The Swiss team finished with a pair of third-place podiums Having the chance to sail at all-out speeds in a racing environment has been one of Alinghi Red Bull Racing's objectives for this second Preliminary Regatta. Posted on 1 Dec
America's Cup Preliminary Regatta day 2
Dream conditions produce high action Jeddah was a magical venue today delivering outstanding, pitch-perfect conditions for Raceday Two of the America's Cup Preliminary Regatta Jeddah, presented by NEOM. Bang on cue, a 12-16 knot north westerly filtered across the racecourse. Posted on 1 Dec
Emirates Team New Zealand dominate on day 2
To qualify for match race final in Jeddah The story of the day was Emirates Team New Zealand again being dominant winning two races, as well as second place which was enough to secure their place in tomorrow's match race final with two fleet races yet to race at Jeddah. Posted on 1 Dec
America's Cup: Day 2 - Red Sea brawl
The Red Sea breeze arrived as the boats were heading to the race area for Day 2 The Red Sea breeze arrived as the boats were heading to the race area for Day 2 of the second Preliminary Regatta of the 37th America's Cup. Posted on 1 Dec
RS Sailing 2021 - FOOTERVaikobi 2023 Gloves - FOOTERLloyd Stevenson - Artnautica60 728x90px BOTTOM