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Cup Spy Nov 5: Swiss start two-boat testing in Jeddah

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 5 Nov 2023 19:25 PST 29 October 2023
Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 - Day 55 - Jeddah - November 5, 2023 © Alex Carabi / America's Cup

The Swiss were the first team to sail an AC40 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the venue for the second Preliminary Regatta. They put in a four and a half hour session in winds that blew around 11-16kts in 34°c and only 40% humidity.

What happened in the Cup - November 5, 2023:

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing - sailed their two AC40s from Jeddah, venue for the next America's Cup Preliminary Regatta.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand - The America's Cup Defenders completed their program in Barcelona for 2023. The team is now back in Auckland and the sailing team will return to Jeddah for the AC37 Preliminary Regatta to be held at the end of November.
  • 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 suffered a catastrophic destruction of their rudder and rudder assembly during a towing session on October 6, 2023
  • American Magic - No report from the AC37 Joint Recon team. They are expected to start sailing the AC75 on November 6.
  • Orient Express Racing Team - No report from the AC37 Joint Recon team
  • All teams are/have shipped AC40s to Jeddah for the second Preliminary Event at the end of November. Organisers will obviously be monitoring the security and war situation in the surrounding territories, before giving the teams a green light to travel to the venue, however it would seem that at least one team has made their own decision.


Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC40 Boat Captain, Diego Torrado, told the AC37 Joint Recon Team that the Swiss team arrived nine days ago to start setting up the base in Jeddah, and started five days ago to set up the two AC40s.

The Swiss team is believed to have gone to Jeddah early with two AC40s so they can get in some testing, in flatter water and steadier breezes than the teams were getting in Barcelona - where Alinghi Red Bull Racing were the first AC team to set up at the 2024 America's Cup venue.

Torrado said the two AC40s had 14kts of breeze today, with 34° temperatures and warm water. The AC37 Joint Recon team concurred recording the sea state as just 0.3-0.4metre chop.

Contrast that with what the Swiss team would have "enjoyed" this day in Barcelona, where the now-casting at Port Olimpic had the breeze hitting over 20kts, with gusts to 30kts and a seastate of just under a metre. Conditions the previous day were slightly worse breeze-wise, but the wave height was 1.75 metres - which is certainly getting up to the top end of the scale for Barcelona.

The Swiss have taken their two hired guns - SailGP helmsman and former world match racing champion, Phil Robertson (NZL), along with Rio Olympic Silver medalist Jason Waterhouse as a flight controller/sail trimmer. They are obviously keen to get some serious contested practice in Jeddah, in ideal sailing conditions - and achieving a lot more hours on the water than would have been possible in Barcelona.

Today the AC37 Joint Recon team reported that there were numerous stops by the two AC40s, with the session stopping while technicians boarded and ducked down below. Torrado's response was that with the packout, delivery and reassembly of the AC40s "we prefer to do a stop and check that everything is working well because it's better to stop and check that everything works before to we have a big issue. Today everything was fine," he added

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - November 5, 2023 - Barcelona - from Elia Miquel- ARBR Recon Unit

Alinghi Red Bull Racing commenced their sailing day with both their AC40-7 (Red) and AC40-4 (Yellow) at their Jeddah base on the Obhur Creek in Saudi Arabia. The yachts were rolled out at 09:15hrs and 09:45hrs respectively. Following standard procedures, the team docked out at 12:00hrs, with both boats on one-design foils and sails. The day saw steady thermal breeze which started around 11-12 kts from the West, and gradually increased throughout the day, peaking at 16 knots at the end of the day.

The yachts were towed on foil out to the Red Sea, hoisting their one-design sails outside the breakwater. The Red boat, helmed by Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin began with a warm-up routine sailing upwind and downwind, commencing at 12:35hrs for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the yellow AC40-4 engaged in setting up systems.

During the second stint, the Yellow boat, helmed by Phil Robertson and Nico Charbonnier, sailed an upwind/downwind leg while the red boat remained stationary, receiving attention from technicians for teething issues. As the sea state remained relatively flat, the yellow boat temporarily dropped its J2 jib before embarking on another 10-minute stint three.

The fourth stint saw both boats sailing in sync after which they made their way downwind towards the Jeddah Waterfront and paused. Both yachts exchanged from J2 jibs to J3 jibs, as winds averaged 14 knots with some gusts hitting 16 knots, and a slight chop increasing.

Following this, the red boat initiated stint five, while the yellow boat held its position briefly for additional below-deck technician work. After rejoining, both yachts sailed upwind performing a series of split tacks before rounding a chase rib, then proceeded downwind towards the 1.5 NM course set in front of the Jeddah Waterfront, on the intended race course area.

A practice start preceded a two-lap race, which was won by the red boat, thanks in part to a touch down gybe performed by the yellow boat, allowing the red boat to seize the lead.

With sails dropped at 16:00 outside the Obhur entrance, both yachts concluded their session and towed on foil back to base. Boat Captain Diego Torrado summed up the first day sailing in Jeddah as a success in the post sailing interview.

The recon unit covered 48 Nautical Miles chasing the team over almost four and a half hours on the water, of which 140 minutes were spent sailing. 84 manoeuvres were observed, of which 93% were fully foiling.

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - November 5, 2023 - Jeddah

  • Weather: 34 degrees Sunny
  • Wind Strength 11-16kts
  • Wind Direction: 270-285 degrees
  • Sea State: 0.3 - 0.4mtrs chop
  • Crane In: 1015/0940hrs Dock Out: 1200hrs (Red and Yellow)
  • Dock In: 1620/1625hrs Crane out: 1645/1705hrs (Red and Yellow)
  • Total Tacks: 45 - Fully foiling: 44; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 39 - Fully foiling: 34; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 1

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

Positions: AC40-4 (Yellow) Starboard: Phil R + Jason W. Port: Nico C + Nico R; AC40-4 (Yellow) Starboard: Phil R + Jason W Port: Nico C + Nico R AC40-4 (Red) Starboard: Arnaud P + Bryan M Port: Max B + Yves D Starboard: Arnaud P + Bryan M Port: Max B + Yves D

Weather Observations - Jeddah Waterfront - November 5, 2023

Winds peaked at 12kts around 1500hrs and was steady from a westerly direction.

The air temperature peaked at 35 degrees around noon local time.

Humidity had been high (70%) around 0600hrs but dropped back to 40% just after midday.

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