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Cup Spy Feb 8: Barcelona seaway challenges AC40s. All suffer control gremlins

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 9 Feb 16:29 PST 10 February 2024
American Magic - AC40 - Day 89 - February 8, 2024 - Barcelona © Ugo Fonolla / America's Cup

Three America's Cup teams trained out of Barcelona. Two teams sailed in AC40s, with the Swiss continuing to sail their AC75 also out of Barcelona.

Winds built through the day from light (sub-foiling) to over 20kts. The increasing breeze was accompanied by a building seaway, which not unexpectedly troubled the AC40s. The AC75 sailed by Alinghi Red Bull Racing was less affected.

Strong winds of 20-25kts remained on Friday, February 9, 2024 - and all teams stayed ashore.

What happened in the Cup - Feb 8 2024:

  • American Magic - Sailed out of Barcelona in their two matched AC40s. They were affected by the worsening sea-state, with one losing control and coming close to a capsize (See highlights video)
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing - Sailed their AC75 out of Barcelona. They had a good session but with some unidentified issues believed to be jib system related.
  • Orient Express Racing Team - Sailed out of Barcelona on February 8. They had a better session, concluding in a tacking frenzy. While they did well to hold together in the stiff breeze, many of their their 80 tacks and gybes were in the "Touch and go/Touch down" category.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - Did not sail.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand - Sailed on Friday (February 4 NZT) in their AC40/LEQ12 out of Auckland, and did not sail in this period. The chase boats and recon boat have been hauled for most of the week, with no indication as to when the next test block will commence.
  • INEOS Britannia - Did not sail/were not covered by the AC37 Joint Recon team. They last sailed on February 2, 2024 and their specialist test boat T6 last sailed on November 13, 2023.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Orient Express Racing Team - AC40 - Day 6 - February 8, 2024 - Barcelona

Edited and abridged report from the AC37 Joint Recon Team:

Orient Express team prepared the AC-40 for launching at 0800hrs and launched 30 minutes later, followed by three sailors and engineers conducting system checks.

At 9:45 am, two engineers worked on the main track, one being an electronic engineer. Three technicians checked the cockpit systems , and sails were loaded aboard the AC-40 and its chase boat.

Ten minutes before dock-out a crew meeting is held and with the mainsail head set into the mast the team docked out for their sixth day of testing under the surveillance of the AC37 Joint Recon team.

The test configuration today consisted of One Design Wingfoils, a custom design mainsail LEQ12-MN-A and a one-design jib OD J2.

Winds were light for the first 90 minutes at just 5-7kts from SSW (200°)

They sailed into the wind for 500 meters, then turned downwind for a 5-minute run, but had trouble turning smoothly, and also struggled to get foiling. They practiced some tacks and gybes

But an hour into the session they encountered problems during a long turn and stopped to check the boat. Thirty minutes later after several more turns, they stopped again.

The breeze increased to 10-13kts from virtually the same direction (195°), and the boat checks continued, along with a change of jib to a custom design LEQ12 J3.

The French Challenger continued to sail upwind and down, completing one lap successfully but pulled up in a second, with again the mainsail traveller and sheet adjustment being checked.

The technical issues appeared to have been resolved, and the wind continued to increase to 20kts in gusts.

The rest of the session continued with the crew throwing the AC-40 through multiple tacks and gybes without incident, as the breeze continued to increase to 23kts.

The five hour session concluded with a double race lap - using a harbour marker at the top and the Chase boat at the bottom.

The session ended at 1615hrs.

Report by Jose L. Piñana – AC37 Joint Recon Team

Crew: Quentin de la Pierre, Kevin Peponet, Matthieu Vandame, Jason Saunders

Session Statistics: Orient Express Racing Team - AC40 - Day 6 - February 8, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather:18 degrees. Sunny
  • Wind Strength 5-19kts
  • Wind Direction: 195° - 210°
  • Sea State: 0.6-1.1mtrs
  • Crane In: 0800hrs Dock Out: 1100hrs
  • Dock In: 1619hrs Crane out:
  • Total Tacks: 46 - Fully foiling: 13; Touch & Go: 29; Touch Down: 4
  • Total Gybes: 34 - Fully foiling: 9; Touch & Go: 18; Touch Down: 7

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 118 - February 8, 2024 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing's AC75, Boat Zero, was rolled out at 10:05, followed by crane-in at 10:35. Standard checks were carried out, with mast rotation assessments and discussions around the Cunningham system by engineers at the mast base. The team docked out at 12:00, with the M2-2R mainsail and J4-1R jib raised in port. An engineer positioned in the starboard guest seat was noted on board. The sea state was slightly choppy throughout the day, increasing with the wind as the day progressed.

The team warmed up with a 20 minute downwind/upwind session, which was repeated, at times practicing manoeuvres with both boards down.

The second session was dedicated to a marketing exercise with three precision fly-bys past the pin end mark in 11-14kts of wind..

The training got serious with an almost 30 minute session in 14-17kts after sailing downwind, they then performed a JK (270°) manoeuvre, followed by prolonged upwind/downwind stretches focusing on bearaways, round-ups, and maintaining control with both foils submerged.

At the end of this phase (1340hrs) there was a full cyclor team swap and batteries were also exchanged.

The next session in a similar strength breeze consisted of a short upwind course that concluded after six minutes.

The fifth session was a start training one of contested pre-start drills between the AC75 entering on port against the chase boat on starboard for the first two starts, entering at a downwind angle for the first start, but subsequently late by 8 seconds.

Practice Start 3 was abandoned, the jib was dropped and techs jumped on board, seemingly attending to an issue with the jib system.

The sixth session got uner way in similar strength winds of 15-19.5kts from 210°. The Swiss team re-attempted pre-start 3, with the yacht entering on starboard against the chase on port. The team stopped sailing after 400m from the start line, and subsequently dropped the sails to end the day, perhaps due to the persisting issue on board.

Despite the challenges, the team managed 95 minutes of sailing time, executing 40 manoeuvres with a 75% fully foiling rate.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing will not be sailing for the rest of the week.

Crew: Sailing: Arnaud Psarofaghis, Maxime Bachelin, Nico Charbonnier, Lucien Cujean, Bryan Mettraux , Jason Waterhouse. Power: Augustin Maillefer, Arthur Cevey, Nils Theuninck , Barnabé Delarze, Théry Schir, Nico Rolaz, Franco Noti, Paul Jacquot

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 118 - February 8, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 19°C. Sunny
  • Wind Strength 11-19kts
  • Wind Direction: 210° - 215°
  • Sea State: 0.5 - 0.8mtr SSW
  • Crane In: 1035hrs Dock Out: 1200hrs
  • Dock In: 1530hrs Crane out: 1600hrs
  • Total Tacks: 21 - Fully foiling: 15; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 19 - Fully foiling: 15; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 0

American Magic - AC40x2 - Day 89 - February 8, 2024 - Barcelona

NYYC American Magic's final day of sailing this week featured more two-boat testing combined with a short session of course practice racing. The day started in an 8-10kts southerly breeze and flat water which built to 16-20kts during the afternoon when the sea state kicked up into a 0.5-metre steep chop.

The American team had both their AC40s – America and Magic rigged and launched by 0945hrs with the boats docking out just before 1100hrs.

Both yachts carried One-Design foils and this session was clearly about sail testing with both yachts carrying custom design mainsails and J2 jibs. Sails were hoisted by 1100hrs and both boats were out of the harbour and airborne by 1125hrs for a 30 minute light airs flight.

The pair pulled off five foiling gybes, one touch and go gybe, and two touchdown gybes.

After a second flight lasting 20 minutes, the breeze began to build promoting a change to One Design J3 headsails. An hour-long windward / leeward flight followed during which the breeze built to 16-20 knots. A 20-minute stop at 1350hrs was followed by a pair of practice races around a windward / leeward course.

Racing was mostly super close but the second race ended on the downwind leg when America nosedived badly after a gybe and came close to capsizing. That meant the end of the day for the AC-40 America but the crew on the other AC40 Magic changing to a custom J3 headsail for a final hour of windward leeward sailing.

Time was called at 1600hrs with America back on the dock by 1610hrs. No sailing is scheduled for the next three days.

Crew: Co-helms: America - Tom Slingsby and Harry Melges / Magic: Paul Goodison and Lucas Calabrese. Flight Controller/Trimmers: Magic: Kyle Langford and Michael Menninger . America: Riley Gibbs and Andrew Campbell. (Sailors rotated between the boats during the day.)

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40x2 - Day 89 - February 8, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 17° C
  • Wind Strength: 8-20kts
  • Wind Direction: 180°
  • Sea State:0.4mtr steep chop
  • Crane In: 0910hrs|0940hrs Dock Out: 1057hrs
  • Dock In: 1610hrs Crane out: 1645hrs
  • Total Tacks: 50+ - Fully foiling: 50+; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 20+ - Fully foiling: 20+; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

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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