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Cup Spy Oct 21: Kiwis and Swiss strike rare westerly breeze

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 22 Oct 2023 03:52 PDT 21 October 2023
Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 97 - with Emirates Team NZ - AC75 - Barcelona - October 21, 2023 © Paul Todd/America's Cup

Two of the six America's Cup Challengers Alinghi Red Bull Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand, sailed on Saturday experiencing a breeze from a direction that is unusual in Barcelona.

What happened in the Cup - October 21, 2023:

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed in a funky 4-9kt breeze, before the WNW breeze dropped below foiling speed. The Swiss called it a day just before 1500hrs
  • Emirates Team New Zealand reported a similar breeze 4-9kts from WNW accompanied by shifts of up to 45°. Interestingly they sailed with a what the AC37 Recon team believed to be a LIDAR unit on the port side - presumably to record windshifts as they approached the AC75. They still have some testing planned before their imminent program closedown at the end of the month.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - No report from the AC37 Joint Recon team
  • INEOS Britannia - No report from the AC37 Joint Recon team. Their test boat T6 is still in the shed after the catastrophic destruction of their rudder and rudder assembly during a towing session.
  • American Magic - No report from the AC37 Joint Recon team
  • Orient Express Racing Team - No report from the AC37 Joint Recon team

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - October 21, 2023 - Barcelona - from Elia Miquel- ARBR Recon Unit

Challenging wind conditions for Alinghi Red Bull Racing team, sailing with their first generation AC75. ARBR team rolled out their AC75 at 9:00hrs. The yacht was craned in, and the usual pre-sailing checks were carried out.

The team docked out at 11:00h and went straight out of the harbour, where they hoisted the M2-2R mainsail and the J3-3 headsail. The wind conditions outside were 9 kts from 280°, flat sea state and clear skies with cumulonimbus all over the horizon.

Alinghi started sailing in displacement mode by the port entrance, following with one gybe downwind on their starboard tack. They stopped at 11:43hrs, and the technicians went onboard apparently working on the jib traveller and the position of the jib sheet. After twenty minutes, they did three more manoeuvres and stopped again with technicians onboard.

At 12:35hrs, the team was clearly trying to sail the boat in a low mode, they touched down several times as the sea state increased and the wind went from 9kts to 7kts, making it even more challenging.

At 13:20hrs, they did a long run upwind-downwind making 30kts and 42kts of speed consecutively. Then, they stopped for an hydration break and right after, they did a bear away until reaching the two marks that they placed near Badalona.

At 14:16hrs, with a decreasing breeze of 5knts from 285° they did a pre-start procedure, followed with a headsail change. The sailors dropped the J3-3 and the chaseboat towed them right in front the merchant ships anchorage area, near the port entrance, where they hoisted the J1 at 14:47hrs.

They sailed in displacement mode for mode than 10 minutes, but as the wind conditions were getting worse, the team decided to lower the sails at 15:10hrs and tow the yacht back to the base, docking in by 15:30hrs. . The team covered a total of 50nm over four hours on the water, 160min were spend sailing with 22 manoeuvres performed, 68% fully foiling.

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - October 21, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Partly cloudy 20°C
  • Wind Strength 4-9kts
  • Wind Direction: 280° - 285°
  • Sea State: 0.2m - 0.4m
  • Crane In: 0900hrs Dock Out: 1100hrs
  • Dock In: 1530hrs Crane out: 1630hrs
  • Total Tacks: 8 - Fully foiling: 6; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 14 - Fully foiling: 9; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 4
Crew: Maxime Bachelin, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Bryan Mettraux, Yves Detrey, Florian Trüb, Nicolas Rolaz, Arthur Cevey, Augustin Maillefer, Barnabé Delarze

Emirates Team New Zealand - AC75 - October 21, 2023 - Barcelona from Justin Chisholm - ETNZ Recon Unit

Emirates Team New Zealand scheduled an 1100hrs Saturday dockout time to take advantage of a so far rare offshore wind in Barcelona with a just over three hour session sailed in a very shifty north westerly breeze that ranged from 10 knots up to 15 knots in the unpredictable gusts that periodically rolled off the city front.

The team's previous-generation AC75 rolled out of the hangar at 0930 and was rigged and launched by 1008 ahead of a slightly delayed 1103 dockout.

We observed that the LIDAR unit on the port side of the boat had been projected outboard on a carbon pole. See photo below. Because of the unusual wind direction and the remarkably smooth sea state the team opted to tow the boat out of the harbour at 1115 with sails down before a short foiling tow along the coast to a point off the W Hotel where sails – M3-1 mainsail and J3-6 headsail – were hoisted by 1135.

The boat was up and foiling by 1140 on a brief upwind sail before a hard bear away to begin a long, fast downwind run heading out to sea. This was followed by a reciprocal upwind leg all the way back to the beach where the breeze was noticeably more shifty making life difficult for the crew to keep the boat tracking smoothly in a straight line.

After another downwind / upwind laps the boat came to a stop at 1208 when at least one VIP guest was brought on board. At this point the average wind was in the 10-12 knot range, but the regular gusts that fanned out from the shore were peaking at around 15 knots. 15 minutes later the boat was up and foiling again for another windward / leeward session lasting 20 minutes before another stop to rotate the cyclors.

This break lasted just six minutes before the crew were off again on a 35-minute free sailing windward leeward session during which the wind direction appeared to get increasingly unpredictable with some huge sudden changes in sailing angle observed both upwind and downwind. (In the post-sailing interview Nathan Outteridge mentions 45 degree shifts).

All in all the crew appeared to deal well with these difficult conditions by flying the boat slightly higher than usual – although there were some occasional splashdowns, both upwind and down. After a 10 minute stop at 1330 the team set about one and a half practice laps around a virtual racecourse – with the final upwind leg finishing outside the harbour mouth at 1402. Sails were dropped by 1420 with the boat docking in at 1425. A short towing session is scheduled in the morning tomorrow – Sunday October 22.

Session Statistics: Emirates Team New Zealand - AC75 - October 21, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 21°C
  • Wind Strength 10-15kts
  • Wind Direction: 300°
  • Sea State: Confused. Steep 0.5 - 0.75 metre
  • Crane In: 1008hrs Dock Out: 1103hrs
  • Dock In: 1425hrs Crane out: 1500hrs
  • Total Tacks: 28 - Fully foiling: 28; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 21 - Fully foiling: 20; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 1

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

Weather Observations - Port Olimpic - 21 October, 2023

The breeze recorded at Port Olimpic at a point 12 metres above water level, and adjacent to the America's Cup course, was funky during the sailing period which started after both teams left the dock around 1100hrs, the Kiwis returned around 1435hrs and the Swiss stuck it out for another hour. On the charts below read down for the readings at these times. In the interview Nathan Outteridge talks of 45° windshifts. The lower chat is over a 12hour range and shows more detail but less of the trend from the previous day.

The wave height at the America's Cup Buoy showed some swell left from the previous day, but flattened right out.

Additional Images:

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