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Cup Spy Nov 17-18: Basic AC75 testing continues for two teams in Barcelona

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 18 Nov 18:03 PST 19 November 2023
American Magic - AC75 - Day 52 - Barcelona - November 17, 2023 © Ugo Fonolla / America's Cup

Alinghi Red Bull Racing and and American Magic continued their AC75 development programs - with the US team focussed on newly installed cockpit control systems. Alinghi Red Bull Racing have changed their mainsheet system. The Italian team look to be in a finishing phase of their their successful LEQ12 program, with today's focus being on comparative wing foil testing.

What happened in the Cup - November 17-18, 2023:

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing - Sailed but did not get foiling properly. The objective of the sail appeared to be commissioning the new mainsheet system, where cable and pulley blocks have replaced the standard external hydraulic ram.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - Sailed out of Cagliari, in a good breeze. The focus seemed to be on wing foil testing with cameras attached to both foils to show immersed foil issues. It will be interesting to see the next phase of the Italian program and whether they bring one of their AC75s into test action to check control systems to be used on their raceboat.
  • American Magic - Sailed out of Barcelona on Saturday - their final sail for the week. They appeared to have put their earlier issues behind them and were foiling without too many control system issues. The screens and cockpit layout reflect their recent upgrades - see images in this story.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand - Did not sail on Saturday, November 18
  • INEOS Britannia - Did not sail - they had rudder/rudder box issues from the previous day - there is no further comment from the team as to the nature of the damage, or the impact it will have on their testing program.
  • Orient Express Racing Team - Their AC40 is en route to Jeddah.
  • All teams are/have shipped AC40s to Jeddah for the second Preliminary Event at the end of November. No further official update on security concerns.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - November 17, 2023 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC75 at 08:30hrs. Standard pre-sailing checks were completed before the team docked out at 10:30hrs. The M1-1R mainsail, featuring a new clew design with half of the mainsail skin track open and the other half interior to the skins, was hoisted.

This setup took about 40 minutes for the new mainsheet system to be integrated and commissioned. Joseph Ozanne and Yves Courvoisier were present on the chase boat, overseeing these modifications. MotoGP racer Dani Pedrosa also joined as a guest on the chase boat.

The first stint of sailing started at 11:40hrs under light wind conditions, which did not exceed 6 kts. A strong chop and residual swell exceeding 1m was present. The yacht sailed in displacement mode, and the crew concentrated on sail control system checks, with several members observing from the stern.

In the second stint, the yacht continued in displacement mode, then put on the towline and towed at low speed as media operations were carried out. Subsequently, the yacht was towed back to port, and the sails were lowered.

After docking in at 13:10hrs, the yacht was craned out and suspended above the forecourt for additional media operations involving enduro bikes, ridden by Josep Garcia and Laia Sanz.

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - November 17, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Part Cloudy 18°C
  • Wind Strength: 4-6kts
  • Wind Direction: 165°
  • Sea State: Choppy 0.7 - 1.2mtr
  • Crane In: 0900hrs Dock Out: 1030hrs
  • Dock In: 1310hrs Crane out: 1340hrs
  • Total Tacks: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Maxime Bachelin, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bryan Mettraux, Yves Detrey, Nils Theuninck, Barnabé Delarze, Thery Schir

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (LRPP) - LEQ12 - November 17, 2023 - Cagliari - Michele Melis AC Recon

With the forecasted Maestrale ramping up quickly before noon, the italian team LRPP opted for an early rolled out for their LEQ12 prototype at 7:30hrs, stepped mast and craned the yacht in by 7:45hrs.

Both wings 03 and 04 were equipped with GoPro cases on the respective inboard tips on suction and pressure sides. In the helm port pod a larger screen was fitted. At 8:30 the yacht was being towed out of the harbour and the northerly shifty breeze from 320° was measured at 10-12kts while main M2-1 and jib J4-1 were being hoisted and used for the whole sailing session. As the cameras were switched on by a diver, the LEQ12 began its first foiling stint trying to self-take off on port tack but, without any success, changed to starboard tack.

Once passed the wind shadow of harbour pier, the breeze looked to be increasing quickly over the whole bay. Once up on port tack, the yacht pointed upwind with windward heel and the canted wing04 piercing the watersurface. A bear away followed and the LEQ12 headed downwind for a long straight line run. Considering the increased chop further offshore and the upper range boat speeds it has been challenging to follow the yacht closely on this downwind course. Once the starboard arm was dropped, the yacht rounded up and headed upwind for a while. Similar to the previous day, on the upwind manoeuvre from starboard to port tack, there seemed to be an issue with the FCS as out of several tacks none was fully foiling.

A self-take off on port tack was then executed as the team continued sailing upwind on port tack before bearing away and repeating their routine, occasionally gybing to load back the newest wing. In this upper range breeze a larger depowering twist could be seen on main M2 flying shape while sailing upwind.

On the last run, the team was testing foil drops on both wings sailing upwind as well as downind and just as the breeze ramped up further, some bear aways and two-boards round ups were conducted. Upwind boat speeds of 37-39kn and 44-46kn downwind were displayed by RIB GPS. On the last two-board round up, the yacht pointed to the wind and the day was called with approx 50 minutes foiling time, 5 tacks and 4 gybes [Michele Melis AC Recon].

Session Statistics: Luna Rossa - LEQ12 - November 17, 2023 - Cagliari

  • Weather: Sunny 21°C
  • Wind Strength 10-16kts
  • Wind Direction: 320-330°
  • Sea State: Moderate chop 0.4mtr
  • Crane In: 0745hrs Dock Out: 0830hrs
  • Dock In: 0950hrs Crane out: 1030hrs
  • Total Tacks: 5 - Fully foiling: 2; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 4 - Fully foiling: 3; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Jimmy Spithill, Francesco Bruni, Andrea Tesei, Umberto Molineris

American Magic - AC75 - Day 52 - November 18, 2023 - Barcelona

American Magic rounded off the week with a solid day of sailing aboard their previous-generation AC75 Patriot clocking up four hours on the water in winds ranging from 6 to 15 knots. The session appeared to be free of technical issues with the boat up and foiling for the vast majority of the time – although there were plenty of splashdowns, both during tacks and gybes as well as roundups.

Patriot emerged from the American Magic hangar at 0845 and by 0932 was rigged and in the water ready for dockout at 1058hrs. After leaving the harbour at 1108hrs the boat was bow-towed to the north east for 20 minutes at speeds up to 30 knots before stopping for sails – MN7 mainsail and J1.5-2 headsail – to be hoisted by 1145hrs. The breeze was less than 8 knots (from 200) at this point with a flat sea.

Patriot sailed on port in displacement mode for several minutes with a crew member moving around the boat taking sail and mast pictures and checking in between the mainsails skins at the clew area. It was notable that the crew had to manually back the headsail with a sailor on the bow to get the boat to bear away from a standing start and after a displacement tack. As the breeze started to ramp up towards 10 knots Patriot easily took flight on starboard tack and sailed for a minute or so with more sail and mast pictures being taken before bearing away into a fast downwind run to begin a series of windward leeward laps. The boat did not appear comfortable during gybes with the majority being full touch down.

A stop at 1220hrs saw a change to the J2-5 with the boat back in the air by 1230hrs for a downwind run that began an extended period of windward / leeward course sailing around two pairs of buoys. With the breeze increasing steadily over the afternoon the crew stopped again at 1535 to change down to a J3 headsail. Unfortunately we could not identify if it was the J3-4 or J3-6 - which had both been loaded aboard the chase boat in the morning. During the multiple laps sailed around the course Patriot looked stable and fast in a straight line both upwind and downwind, but the crew still appeared to be having issues through some tacks and gybes and on mark roundings – which often had very wide exits.

Additionally, a couple of times there appeared to be a loss of control during turn ups from downwind to upwind ending with a steep bow up surge and a splashdown. After a long final upwind time was called at 1530 with sails down by 1540hrs and the boat back on the dock by 1553hrs. No sailing is planned for tomorrow (Sunday November 19).

Report from Sebastian Peri Brusa - AC37 Joint Recon Team

Crew: Paul Goodison, Tom Slingsby, Riley Gibbs, Michael Menninger, Andrew Campbell; John Croom, Madison Molitar, Colten Hall, Tim Hornsby, James Wright

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC75 - Day 52 - November 18, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 20° C
  • Wind Strength: 6-15kts
  • Wind Direction: 200° - 220°
  • Sea State: Light to Moderate chop
  • Crane In: 0932hrs Dock Out: 1058hrs
  • Dock In: 1553hrs Crane out: 1635hrs
  • Total Tacks: 29 - Fully foiling: 24; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 23 - Fully foiling: 11; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 9

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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