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Cup Spy Feb 27-28: Stuffing it in Cagliari.. Waiting for wind in Barcelona

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 29 Feb 02:55 PST 29 February 2024
Luna Rossa - AC40 - Day 125 - February 28, 2024 - Cagliari © Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

Three teams sailed in Cagliari and Barcelona. Except for Alinghi Red Bull Racing, which sailed their AC75, the other two teams sailed pairs of AC40s.

What happened in the Cup - February 27 and 28, 2024:

  • INEOS Britannia - did not sail, they are on a three-week break, and must also resolve the issues arising from a lithium battery fire on their newest AC40 Sienna. Several of the team competed in SailGP Australia. The Emirates GBR team finished 7th in a ten-boat fleet.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing - have returned to Barcelona. They splashed their AC75 on Friday for a series of commissioning checks ahead of restarting their AC75 program on Monday. Today, they sailed in moderate southerly winds and an on-axis direction with the wind.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand - no sailing. Their AC75 has been left in Barcelona. One AC40-OD is en route to New Zealand. The other AC40 is being used as a LEQ12 test boat. The Kiwi sailing team finished third at the SailGP Sydney regatta over the weekend, finishing third. They have sailed on Tuesday in their AC40/LEQ12, but didn't sail Wednesday.

  • American Magic - One of the team's co-helmsman - Tom Slingsby won the SailGP Sydney regatta beating Denmark and New Zealand in the Final. They sailed AC40s on Tuesday, and wanted to do the same on Wednesday - but someone forgot to book a breeze - and they didn't leave the dock.
  • Orient Express Racing Team - the French America's Cup team competed in SailGP Sydney. They didn't make the three-boat final - and finished 4th overall.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - came out for a spectacular two-boat training session in Cagliari, they are the only team currently to have the ability to sail two mismatched boats in match racing. "It's interesting and initially I thought having two different boats may have been a bit of a downside to that and racing," co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill remarked after the session. "But it's actually been really good. Having boats with different strengths and weaknesses - whether it be maneuvering, or sometimes one boat has a performance edge. I think that'll be reality probably in the car very unlikely all about to be the same speed. So I think training wise, it's been good for us just to learn how to race a boat in a different configuration."

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (LRPP) - LEQ12 - Day 125 - February 28, 2024 - Cagliari

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli rolled out their AC40 (White) at 06:20hrs and their LEQ12 (Red) at 07:25hrs, stepped masts and launched at 07:15hrs and 07:40hrs respectively. Dockout was postponed several times, waiting for any breeze to fill the bay.

White was ready and foiling by 09:30hrs with M1 and J1 OD just while Red towed out of the harbour.

On the flat water, the light air was measured at 6-7kts from 305°, and the first iteration of mainsail M1-1 was paired to the J1-1 on Red.

As the Red yacht joined, the bottom gate was already set at 300°, and both boats sailed quite distanced but always on matching tacks.

At 10:05hrs, the first prestart drill was run with Red on port, which managed to chase White towards the line; both yachts seemed to start evenly, with Red tacking to port immediately.

White was ahead on the two upwind crosses and won the race after the first downwind leg with a large gap of 30+ seconds.

Red came off its foils, and sailors debriefed before the second prestart unfolded shortly after.

On the next start, White had port entry and chased Red coming up to the line, ending up slightly ahead, with Red tacking to port right away.

On the third drill, Red prevailed and started ahead of White, squeezing it with higher mode, forcing it to tack to port, and ending up off its foils.

The breeze shifted further to the right, measuring 6-8kts from 340°, and kept shifting during the day.

Red seemed to have the upper hand on the fourth prestart drill and dominated White on a tacking duel covering each side.

On the fifth drill, Red had port entry followed by White, which trimmed up and tacked. In response, Red bore away and gybed. When approaching the line, it seemed pretty even as both yachts came down from the windward side of the committee and started close by pin trimming up. As the race was live, the yachts split up, working with the shifty light air, and white led again.

White won the sixth prestart with a better time on distance as Red came off the foils and had to retake off. Then, the team took a short break, and a guest was hosted in the port pod.

They were towed foil-borne at 11:50hrs, and the 7th prestart was observed with, once again, Red on port entry, looking to hook White towards the line, White bore away, but both yachts seemed almost late and tacked to port close by the pin to start.

A similar procedure was seen during the eighth drill, with only Red tacking to port and having to build speed along the line while White managed to start by the pin.

On the ninth prestart, another aggressive battle was observed with Red looking for a hook on White, who got caught with an extreme ride height, losing the rudder and nose-diving.

Sails were lowered with approx 125 minutes foiling time and approx. Forty tacks and 25 gybes [Michele Melis AC Recon].

Crew: Red Marco Gradoni, Jimmy Spithill, Vittorio Bissaro, Umberto Molineris. Crew: WhiteRuggero Tita, Francesco Bruni, Rocco Falcone, Andrea Tesei

Session Statistics: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (LRPP) - LEQ12 - Day 125 - February 28, 2024 - Cagliari

  • Weather: Cloudy 15°C
  • Wind Strength 6-9kts
  • Wind Direction: 305°-340°
  • Sea State: Mostly flat
  • Crane In: 0740hrs Dock Out: 0930hrs
  • Dock In: 1245hrs Crane out:
  • Total Tacks: 40 - Fully foiling: 35; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 25 - Fully foiling: 21; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 0

American Magic - AC40x2 - Day 93 - February 28, 2024 - Barcelona

Despite rigging and launching their two AC40s this morning, NYYC American Magic was forced to spend the day ashore today after a forecasted southerly sea breeze failed to materialise by the afternoon.

The America and Magic AC40s were rolled out at 1035hrs and 1200hrs, respectively, with America launched at 1205hrs and Magic at 1230hrs.

Unfortunately, though, after a wait of around two hours, weather reports from along the local coastline showed a confused wind scenario with breezes from multiple directions. With no sign of these various pockets of wind coalescing into anything meaningful, time was called on the day at 1430hrs.

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 mode x2 - Day 93 - February 28, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 15° C Clearing skies
  • Wind Strength: 5-11kts
  • Wind Direction: NA
  • Sea State: NA
  • Crane In: 1205hrs Dock Out: NA
  • Dock In: NA Crane out: NA
  • Total Tacks: 0; Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 0; Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 2

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 121 - February 27, 2024 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing's Boat Zero was rolled out at 10:00hrs. The boat was prepared and craned into the water by 10:30hrs. When alongside, sailors and engineers checked all of the boat's systems, including foil arms, mainsheet systems, mast rotation, and jib sheet systems, to ensure that everything was in top condition before the sailing session.

The boat docked out at 13:00hrs, and after hoisting the sails, the Chase boat towed it out of the harbour in an SE direction to an area where a race course was set with four training marks.

It was 13:30hrs, and there was almost no wind. After 15 minutes of waiting, the wind came in from 200º with 7-10kts intensity. From there, the sailing session was conducted as follows:

Session 1 (30 mins): The session began with a test of the boat on a not-very-long upwind leg with three clean tacks in between. After 500 m from the last tack, they bore away into a downwind course, performing five gybes (three clean and two 'touch and go'). After the last gybe, they stopped and conducted a quick team meeting.

Five minutes later, they continued sailing, starting again with a small upwind leg and a perfect tack, after which they decided to bear away into a downwind. After two clean gybes, they went into a luffing manoeuvre and stopped the boat. The wind had increased, and they decided to replace their current jib with the J4-1R.

Session 2 (45 mins): The wind shifted slightly to the right, 220º with 10 to 14 kts intensity. After hoisting the J4-1R jib, they repeated the same process as before to start sailing. They began sailing upwind on port tack, then, after a few meters, they tacked and quickly bore away to a downwind course.

After a couple of minutes, without performing any gybes, they went for a luffing manoeuvre, then, after a short upwind, they tacked and went for a long port tack upwind with a TWA (True Wind Angle) of approximately 40-45º and 30 to 35 kts of speed. The swell was from the SSE that day, so mainly on port tack, one could experience some differences in speed when Boat Zero was going down the wave while going upwind. They tacked again, and while sailing upwind on starboard tack, they started to lift and lower the windward arm several times.

In the post-session interview, Nicolas Rollaz mentioned that "they were trying new board drops to improve their system."

After these tests, they bore away into a downwind course on a long starboard line. After a perfect gybe, they put both boards down and started sailing downwind, performing five gybes in a row, an exercise set for prestarts mode-training, according to Nicolas Rollaz.

Session 3 (35 mins): At 15:00hrs, they stopped to change the GoPro batteries, and there was also a replacement from the power crew. At 15:20hrs, they started again and went for a not-very-long upwind leg, performing three tacks along the way. After the third tack, they bore away and went downwind. After performing three clean gybes, they decided to stop. The coach boat came alongside and threw them a towing line. They dropped the sails, and the AC75 Boat Zero was towed back to port. Docking was completed at 16:10 hrs. Today, Yves Detray (Trimmer) and Nicolas Charbonnier (Helsman) were onboard in the extra seats that Boat Zero has to make the crew swap easier when needed, but it seems it never happened today.

In summary, Alinghi Redbull Racing sailed for 80 minutes, performed 27 manoeuvres: 80 % fully foiling and sailed with two different jibs.

(Report: Jose Piñana - AC37 Joint Recon team)

Crew - Sailing: Maxime Bachelin, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Bryan Mettraux, Nicolas Rolaz, Yves Detray Power: Nils Teuninck, Franco Noti , Thery Schir, Barnabe Delarze, Augustin Maillefer, Arthur Cevey, Paul Jacquot, Florian Trüb

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 121 - February 27, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 17°C. Sunny
  • Wind Strength: 8-12kts
  • Wind Direction: 200°-220°
  • Sea State: 0.9-1.4mtr
  • Crane In: 1000hrs Dock Out: 1300hrs
  • Dock In: 1610hrs Crane out: 17151200hrs
  • Total Tacks: 10 Fully foiling: 7; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 16 Fully foiling: 11; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 0

American Magic - AC40x2 - Day 92 - February 27, 2024 - Barcelona

NYYC American Magic had to be patient early in today's two-boat session to allow the Barcelona southerly sea breeze to appear. But once it did, the wind quickly established itself and soon developed into a solid system that ranged from 11 to 15 kts.

The team's two AC40s – both in LEQ12 mode with custom foils on the starboard side – were rigged and launched by 1045hrs.

A new stubby antenna was observed on top of Magic's mast. The two boats docked out together at 1200hrs but had to wait at the harbour entrance with mainsails up for an hour to allow the sea breeze to build from sub-five kts to around 7kts by 1315hrs.

After some separate warm-up free sailing, the two boats – sailing with J1 headsails – rendezvoused at the leeward gate of the earlier-set windward / leeward racecourse in front of the W Hotel.

America arrived and rounded the left-hand mark but appeared to lose control mid-rounding and did a little hobby-horsing before stopping. With the breeze now touching 11-12 knots, both boats swapped headsails – America to a J2 C3 and Magic to a J2 C4.

One practice race was sailed in which America won the start and sailed away to an easy victory, while Magic appeared to struggle a little with maintaining steady flight and suffered a splashdown on the first downwind run. Both crews were pushing hard all around the course, and with the sea state building quickly throughout the afternoon, there were plenty of touchdowns and boat-handling challenges. By 1500hrs, the breeze was in the 12-15 kts range, necessitating a second headsail change: to America to a J3 C1 and Magic to a J3-5 (OD). Two more races were sailed in which – despite some super close prestart/start action – America won both.

By the second race, the breeze was up to 15 kts, and after Magic splashed down on the first upwind, the race was stopped at the first leeward gate. Similarly, the third race was stopped at the end of the first beat after Magic splashed down and stopped upwind.

After a 30-minute delay, Magic sailed to the harbour entrance and dropped sails. Meanwhile, America sailed a free windward leeward lap before a thunderstorm started to roll in from the north.

America entered the harbour at 1630hrs. Both boats were back on the dock by 1650hrs. Another sailing session is scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, February 28.

Crew: Co-helms: America: Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison / Magic: Lucas Calabrese and Harry Melges

Flight Control/Trimmers America: Andrew Campbell and Michael Menninger / Magic: Riley Gibbs and Severin Gramm

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40x2 - Day 92 - February 27, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 8° C Clearing skies
  • Wind Strength: 8-15kts
  • Wind Direction: 180° - 200°
  • Sea State: Flat
  • Crane In: 1000hrs | 1030hrs; Dock Out: 1200hrs
  • Dock In: 1645hrs Crane out: 1730hrs
  • Total Tacks: 30 - Fully foiling: 21 Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 20 - Fully foiling: 14; 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, and 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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