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Cup Spy Oct 18: 'Up Snorkels!' as five teams tested in top end racing conditions off Barcelona

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 18 Oct 2023 17:00 PDT 19 October 2023
American Magic - AC40 - Day 79 - Barcelona - October 18, 2023 © Job Vermeulen / America's Cup

Five of the six America's Cup Challengers American Magic, Alinghi Red Bull Racing and Emirates Team NZ, were reported as sailing on Wednesday. Two others, Orient Express Racing Team and INEOS Britannia were spotted in AC37Recon images sailing in fresh conditions off Barcelona.

Wednesday is Day 7 of the race schedule for the 2024 America's Cup. Today was the roughest day yet in the parallel 2024 America's Cup schedule. However Thursday and Friday are forecast to be even worse, and no teams are expected to sail for the next couple of days.

Typically Emirates Team New Zealand use the parallel period of the America's Cup to drop into campaign mode as a test of shore and sailing crew.

What happened in the Cup - October 18, 2023:

  • Emirates Team New Zealand sailed their AC75, running through another two hour training session - claiming to be testing a couple of unspecified new features, but mostly it is guessed to be more about performance data capture with the AC75 sailing in a seaway of one metre. Peter Burling gave his view of the session in this report.
  • American Magic sailed their two AC40s, again in development testing continuing with flap changes to their test wingfoils and using one design rigs. Terry Hutchinson gave his overview of the struggles of sailing AC40s in these conditions, when the American Magic could but look enviously over the same course, and see Emirates Team NZ sailing the bigger AC75 with relative ease in the sea conditions. However the American team is focused on development testing in their AC40/LEQ12s, while the Kiwis have a focus on data collection and sailing technique.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed a three hour sailing session, with a report of the Swiss just averting a capsize when the rudder lifted clear of the water. Otherwise the day was a test of sailing technique in top end conditions for the Swiss.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - No report.
  • INEOS Britannia - Their test boat T6 is still in the shed after the catastrophic destruction of their rudder and rudder assembly during a towing session. They were again sailing alone in their AC40 One Design, without the company of an AC37 Joint Recon team - so no video/images or report.
  • Orient Express Racing Team - sailed alone in their AC40 One Design, without the company of an AC37 Joint Recon team - so no video/images or report.

Commentary: Handling the rough stuff

One of the continuing questions for all teams is the effect of the Barcelona seaway on AC75s and how the hull design should cater to the seaway.

With the foil depth limited in the AC75 Class Rule, lifting the hull clear of the water can only do so much.

Of the three AC75s in Barcelona, we have not yet seen American Magic's Patriot in action on the Med. However, that might be pretty close.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing now owns Emirates Team New Zealand's first-built AC75; indeed, the first AC75 launched and sailed. It is a different hull concept from others of its era - but on the quiet, the Kiwis reckoned the former Te Aihe was as quick as any of the Challengers that turned up in Auckland. Whether it was or not is not the question, the point being that Te Aihe was a competitive boat and made an interesting benchmark.

From our observation, in fresh conditions and a bit of a seaway, Te Aihe required sound flight control while the crew applied the power and charged hard. The hull shape has a similar profile to others by ETNZ design member Guillaume Verdier, and the bow shape especially was very forgiving. Te Aihe was also a very wet boat - an area addressed in ETNZ's second AC75, Te Rehutai, which went on to win the 2021 America's Cup. But that was essentially a flat water series, and her sea-handling characteristics were never seriously questioned.

We did see Te Rehutai do one Practice Race Day alone in 20kts plus, when in the absence of competitors, the crew lit the afterburners, and her performance in flattish water was scintillating. There was no doubt as to what high-speed spray looked like.

In Barcelona, except for Alinghi Red Bull Racing and the British team's test boat, T6, all the hulls - AC40 or AC75 are of the same genre as Te Rehutai. The AC40 is a development of Te Rehutai.

In the video above, we can see how the Cup winner's hull shape works when presented with a fresh breeze and the oft-discussed Barcelona seaway - which today was off-axis, as they say, running from SE (135°) while the breeze was out of the SSW (240°).

The best view is of the bow on sequence, shot after the tack at 00.50sec as the hull as the Kiwis hits a bad wave. From there, the hull is mostly clear of the water and then makes contact with the occasional over-size wave. Generally, Te Rehutai makes surface contact without much fuss or splash, with the centreline bustle providing some extra buoyancy and the water being cared for by her distinctive bow shape - which works perfectly.

The AC40s, as all have found out, don't have the size or foiling height to cope with the larger seaway with quite the same ease as the AC75.

Those who have tried chasing an AC75 upwind in any significant sea state know that the foiling monohull can handle the sea state more easily than any RIB.

Quite how the teams respond to this unique Barcelona design question will be answered when the 2024 AC75 raceboat hulls are revealed in the first few weeks of the New Year.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Emirates Team New Zealand - AC75 - October 18, 2023 - Barcelona from Justin Chisholm - ETNZ Recon Unit

Emirates Team New Zealand went hunting for big waves for their third consecutive sailing day this week.

With the forecast calling for the breeze to build to over 20 knots by the afternoon the New Zealand team rolled out at 0930 this morning and – despite a delay during the rigging process – had their AC75 in the water by 1015 in good time for an on-time dock out at 1100. After hoisting sails – M2-3 mainsail and J4-6 headsail – in the Port Vell basin the Kiwi yacht sailed out of the harbour at 1130 and was quickly up on foils in 15-16 knots of breeze from 200 degrees.

After less than a minute of upwind sailing on starboard the boat made a sharp bear away to begin a 10 minute downwind run with three foiling gybes. At the end of this run the boat rounded up to begin a 13 minute upwind session with four foiling tacks.

This windward leeward lap was repeated two more times before a stop at 1220 to rotate the cyclors and (we think) change batteries. This stop lasted 20 minutes before the boat was airborne again, sailing upwind for five minutes before bearing away for a very long (13-minute) downwind run with eight foiling gybes.

This was followed by a final upwind leg back to the harbour with 10 foiling tacks along the way. The boat sailed into the harbour at 1315 where sails were dropped by 1330 ahead of a 1340 dock-in.

No sailing is scheduled for the next two days (Thursday 19 and Friday 20 of October) but the team expects to sail both days over the weekend.

Session Statistics: Emirates Team New Zealand - AC75 - October 18, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny with scattered cloud 24°C
  • Wind Strength 12-19kts
  • Wind Direction: 200° - 220°
  • Sea State: Confused. Steep 0.5metre wind swell, and 0.75 metre cross swell
  • Crane In: 1015hrs Dock Out: 1100hrs
  • Dock In: 1340hrs Crane out: 1430hrs
  • Total Tacks: 27 - Fully foiling: 22; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 26 - Fully foiling: 26; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Peter Burling (Starboard) Nathan Outteridge (Port), Andy Maloney (Starboard) Blair Tuke (Port).

Cyclors on rotation: including: Louis Sinclair, Sam Meech, Simon Van Velthoven; Dougal Allan, Marcus Hansen; Cameron Webster, Louis Crosby

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - October 18, 2023 - Barcelona - from Elia Miquel- ARBR Recon Unit

Alinghi Red Bull Racing (ARBR) team had a three hour sailing session with increasing puffy winds and tricky sea state conditions. ARBR team rolled out their AC75 at 8:50hrs. The yacht was craned in, and the usual pre-sailing checks were carried out.

The team docked out at 11:00hrs, hoisting the M2-2R mainsail and J3-1 headsail inside the port and being towed out by 11:23hrs. The wind conditions outside were 9kts from 240º with the sky partially covered and 0.8-1m waves from the SE.

Alinghi started sailing downwind by the port entrance and rapidly reaching the 40knts barrier. Near Badalona, with an increasing and puffy breeze from 9kts - 12kts 230º at 12:08h, the team did one touch-down tack upwind and following they pulled a tow line and substituted the J3-1 with a J4-1. At 12:40hrs, right after taking-off, they had a close call with a capsize as they lost the rudder control. Going through a big wave, the rudder came out of the water and the boat started lisiting to port, but they managed to recover the situation after a few seconds of tension.

Two technicians went onboard and checked the systems in order to follow with the training session, apparently the boat did not suffered any damage.

At 12:50hrs, with picks of eighteen knots, they did three laps upwind-downwind between Barcelona and Badalona. After 30', they stopped for a cyclor's swap and a quick chat with the chaseboat members. At 13:37hrs, having both foils down during the downwind, they were trying to maintain the boat down and searching for the right timming to gybe and avoid ventilations. The last upwind of the session commenced at 14:07hrs, and ended right in front of the harbour entrance, where they lowered the sails and towed the yacht back to the base, docking in by 14:40hrs. The team covered a total of 50 nautical miles over three hours on the water, 105 min were spend sailing with 46 manoeuvres performed, 87% fully foiling.

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - October 18, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Partly cloudy 24°C
  • Wind Strength 9-18kts
  • Wind Direction: 230° - 240°
  • Sea State: 0.8m - 1.1m SE
  • Crane In: 0850hrs Dock Out: 1100hrs
  • Dock In: 1640hrs Crane out: 1800hrs
  • Total Tacks: 17 - Fully foiling: 14; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 3
  • Total Gybes: 29 - Fully foiling: 26; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 3
Crew: Maxime Bachelin, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Bryan Mettraux, Yves Detrey, Nicolas Rolaz, Florian Trüb, Nils Theuninck, Arthur Cevey, Augustin Maillefer, Barnabé Delarze, Thery Schir

American Magic - AC40 x 2 - October 18, 2023 - Barcelona - from Sebastian Peri Brusa - NYYC AM Recon Unit

NYYC AM rolled out Magic at 09.45hrs and America at 10:25hrs. Both AC40s on LEQ12 mode.

Magic with the same foils’ configuration to the past two weeks, with foil wing and flap #1 on the port side and #4 on the starboard side.

America with new reported modifications on the starboard side wing and flap #3; and with reported modifications on the port side wing #2.

Bear in mind that since the last weekend the foils on America were switched, sitting at the moment on the opposite tack to the one indicated by their names on the component declaration form.

Magic was craned to the water at 10:17hrs, and then America followed at 10:56hrs. Both boats docked out at 12:00hrs, as planned.

One-design main sails were selected for both boats, which were hoisted at 12:15hrs while coming out from the port. Once out, one-design J3s were hoisted at 12:25hrs.

Today´s training consisted of virtual races, using virtual marks and boundaries.

However, due to a 0.77-meter swell combined with a 15-17 knots SSW breeze measured at sea level, it was very challenging for both boats to be able to follow the plan of the day and to stay consistently foiling.

Both boats ventilated and nose-dived in many opportunities while racing.

In total five one-lap upwind-downwind virtual races were carried out, making 5 to 6 tacks on the upwind and 4 to 5 gybes on the downwind, doing rabbit starts. On all legs, at least one of the two boats ventilated and nose-dived, coming to a full stop and being forced to re take-off, loosing contention to the other boat for the rest of the race.

Generally speaking, Magic was more consistent, nosediving on less occasions and finishing most of the races ahead.

In these conditions in which stability is what makes the difference, Magic seemed better fitted for maneuvering, especially for bearing away, tacking, gybing and when sailing in a straight line for more than two minutes. America seemed with more difficulties to stay under control, splashing down in many more situations.

The session had three breaks in between races. The first one from 13:20hrs till 13:35hrs, the second one from 13:45hrs till 14:05hrs and the last one from 14:30hrs till 14:40hrs.

At 14:45hrs the team did one more upwind and downwind before heading back to the base.

Both boats entered the port at 14:55hrs, sails were lowered at 15:05 and docked at 15:10hrs.

Magic was craned out at 15:42hrs and then America followed at 16:05hrs.

The team will resume their on-the-water sessions from Monday next week.

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40 x 2 - October 18, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Part sunny 20° C
  • Wind Strength: 15.4kts- 16.8kts
  • Wind Direction: 200° - 210°
  • Sea State: 0.78mtr Very choppy
  • Crane In: 1017hrs(Magic) 1056hrs (America) Dock Out: 1200hrs Both Magic and America
  • Dock In: 1510hrs (both) Crane out: 1542hrs(Magic) 1610hrs (America)
  • Total Tacks: 29 - Fully foiling: 18; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 11
  • Total Gybes: 20 - Fully foiling: 11; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 9

Crew: America: Tom Slingsby (stb), Harry Melges (port), Riley Gibbs (stb), Andrew Campbell (port).

Magic: Lucas Calabrese (stb), Tom Slingsby (port), Severin Gramm (stb), Michael Menninger (port)

Weather Observations - Port Olimpic - 18 October, 2023

The breeze recorded at Port Olimpic at a point 12 metres above water level was up to an average of 20kts - a big jump up from yesterday, and to a lesser extent on Monday, when it was around 15kts average. The breeze was at its peak for the majority of the sailing period (between 1200hrs and 1800hrs) and was solid for most of the sailing period, and the racing time for the 37th Match, which in 12 months to this date will be on Race Day 6. The directional pattern of the breeze was somewhat variable but around SSW.

On the water the recon crews and sailing teams reported slightly lower wind strengths - with the difference being attributable to the distance above water of the nowcasting at Port Olimpic (12 metres above sea level) but about half weight of an AC75 rig.

The wave height at the America's Cup Buoy showed the waves at the highest yet seen since we have had access to the measurement, at over 1 metre, making for very difficult conditions for the AC40s, but less so for ETNZ in their AC75. Alinghi Red Bull Racing appeared to have some issues with the seaway and windstrength.

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. Weather information is by Predictwind * By agreement between the teams, there is no AC37 Joint Recon reporting of teams that are sailing AC40s in One Design mode.

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