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Cup Spy Feb 29: Three teams put through their paces in race practice

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 1 Mar 17:51 PST 29 February 2024
American Magic - AC40 - Day 98 - February 29, 2024 - Barcelona © Ugo Fonolla / America's Cup

Three teams sailed again in Cagliari and Barcelona, in a rinse and repeat of the previous day's session.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing was back in their AC75, While Luna Rossa and American Magic both sailed 40fter test boats. Luna Rossa continued to pitch their LEQ12 custom design against their AC40, while American Magic ran their two AC40s against each other. The Swiss had their AC75 using their Chase boat to provide opposed competition.

All three teams are in a program of race training, with some mixing of crews on different days.

What happened in the Cup - February 29, 2024:

  • INEOS Britannia - Sailed in their AC40 One Design (and no surveillance from the AC37 Recon Team). The team officially are on a three-week break, and must also resolve the issues arising from their lithium battery fire.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing - Sailed their AC75 running various sailing exercises and practice routines to give the sailing crew practice in various maneuvers, gather more data for the training simulators, and provide the cycling team with experience of pedaling while the boat is racing - and the G-Forces associated with racing.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand - The team only sailed their LEQ12 test boat on Tuesday and Friday (report to follow) of this week.
  • American Magic - Are sailing their two AC40s, with the crews undertaking various drills aimed at improving sailing crew competency, mixed with some speed work on the custom design sails and foils (both had test foils fitted to the starboard side with One Design Foils fitted to the port side foil arms.
  • Orient Express Racing Team - no report from a Recon team - they have not undertaken test work on the water for over two weeks.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - The Italian team again pitched their AC40 against their custom designed LEQ12, and got in a solid session, despite having to chase the shifting breeze. The session was conducted against dark skies and the occasional shower of heavy rain - which eventually killed the wind and the training, and the team returned to base.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (LRPP) - LEQ12 - Day 126 - February 29, 2024 - Cagliari

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli rolled out their AC40 (White) at 07:00hrs and their LEQ12 (Red) 25 minutes later. Dockout was scheduled for 08:30hrs, and both yachts were towed out of the harbour.

The forecast looked tricky with swell from 115°, about 0.5m, significantly offset to the offshore northerly breeze from 305° blowing at 6-8kts.

The first foiling session saw the yachts execute a series of manoeuvres in the patchy light breeze. Then, the LEQ12 and AC40 lined up for some up and downwind runs.

In terms of boat speed, the boats looked similar, especially downwind, while upwind, the Red boat looked slicker. White looked more stable on the offset swell.

Several shorter sessions were sailed by both yachts, which were quickly towed up again after they'd splashed down after an unsuccessful manoeuvre. The area by the harbour looked patchy, and the mainsail over sheeting and traveller pumping were often seen.

As the rain increased, both teams stopped foiling and took a break.

More pressure was seen offshore of Petrol Beach, where the team headed. They successfully found some better pressure and placed marks for the starting box.

At 09:45hrs, the first prestart drill was run with Red on port entry, chasing down White, approaching the line aggressively. White started slightly more leeward, forcing Red to tack and bail out.

White had a port entry for the second prestart drill, and at first, both yachts sailed towards the upper right boundary. They converged, approaching the line, and White managed to force Red to windward, causing them to fall off their foils.

During the third drill, both yachts sailed apart in the box and managed their own time on distance without engaging closely. Red started closer by the committee boat and White further to the pin end; it seemed like an even start. Both yachts fell off their foils, and the pressure had picked up to 10-12kts from 325°; J1-1 was then lowered to hoist the J1.5-2 on Red.

The team had planned some further prestarts, but in the following four drills, either Red or White fell off their foils because of a hole in the breeze and increasing swell.

The rain increased, the pressure died completely, and sails were lowered with approximately 105 minutes of foiling time and approximately 35 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 126 - February 29, 2024 - Cagliari

  • Weather: Sunny/Cloudy 17°C
  • Wind Strength 6-12kts
  • Wind Direction: 305°-325°
  • Sea State: 0.5mtr from 115°
  • Crane In: 0740hrs Dock Out: 0830hrs
  • Dock In: 1145hrs Crane out:
  • Total Tacks: 35 - Fully foiling: 28; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 4
  • Total Gybes: 25 - Fully foiling: 17; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 4

American Magic - AC40x2 - Day 93 - February 29, 2024 - Barcelona

American Magic took advantage of a close-to-perfect afternoon for sailing in Barcelona today for another two-boat practice racing sessions on their AC40s America and Magic in LEQ12 mode with custom design starboard foils.

Both boats were rigged and launched by midday ahead of an ahead-of-schedule dock out at 1255hrs. They had custom design sails up – America MC 4 mainsail and J2 C3 headsail, Magic MN 5 mainsail and J2 C4 headsail – at the harbour entrance by 1320hrs.

An additional new (we believe) faring was noted on the bottom aft edge of the mainsail on America. The pair left the harbour five minutes later and immediately set off on a close-quarters downwind run that ended at the leeward gate of the practice racecourse.

After a short windward / leeward free sailing session, the boats rolled into a series of six prestarts and races. America (Tom Slingsby, Paul Goodison, Michael Menninger, Andrew Campbell) largely had the upper hand in the racing over Magic (Harry Melges, Lucas Calabrese, Kyle Langford, Riley Gibbs).

Overall, the prestarts were generally close, with both boats mostly powering towards the line in close formation. The difference between the two boats came down to the America crew looking crisper and more consistent through manoeuvres and while in flight – although neither were error free. Both crews looked to be pushing hard all day, pulling off high-speed single-board round-ups at the leeward gate.

The final sailing of the day began at 1630hrs with the boats separating for some free sailing: Magic setting off upwind and America heading off on a long downwind and upwind return.

Time was called at 1700hrs, with both boats back on the dock by 1725hrs.

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 x2 - Day 94 - February 29, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 16° C - Sunny/Cloudy
  • Wind Strength: 10-13kts
  • Wind Direction: 180°
  • Sea State: Light chop
  • Crane In: 1200/1120hrs Dock Out: 1200hrs
  • Dock In: 1710/1725hrs Crane out: 1815
  • Total Tacks: 45; Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0 (75% estimated to be fully foiling)
  • Total Gybes: 30; Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 2 (75% estimated to be fully foiling)

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 122 - February 29, 2024 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing's Boat Zero was rolled out at 10:00 hrs.

The boat was prepared and launched into the water by 10:25hrs.

When alongside, sailors and engineers checked all 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.

At 11:10 hrs, they prepared two jib sails on one of the chase boats, J4-1R and J3-1R, and at 12:36 h, they brought the mainsail M2-2R and the jib J2-2L and placed them on Boat Zero.

The boat docked out at 13:00 hrs and hoisted sails, replacing the jib J2-2L for J3-1R instead.

The chase boat towed Boat Zero out of the harbour at 13.20hrs, and once out, they stopped, and three technicians jumped onboard Boat Zero for about 20 minutes.

According to Maxime Bachelin, whom we interviewed after the sailing session, the problem was due to an issue in the electronic systems that the team quickly solved once detected.

At 13:50 hrs, they start sailing into a downwind course. At that moment, the wind was 195º with 9-11 kts intensity and swell coming from a 137º direction, so it was off-axis from the direction of the breeze. From there, the sailing session was conducted as follows:

Phase 1 (150 minutes duration): The session began with a test of the boat in the wind direction, performing seven gybes in between the medium to long runs. From that run, the second and the seventh gybes were clearly touchdowns. After the last gybe, they stopped for a while to perform some quick checks.

A racecourse with up and downwind gates was already set, and when they continued sailing five minutes after the stoppage.

They went for a full lap at the racecourse, performing five tacks in the upwind and two gybes in the downwind sector. They stopped after doing a radical luffing with both arms down after going through the bottom gate of the racecourse.

The Boat captain and an electronic technician went quickly onboard to make a few checks on the AC75. From that moment forward, Boat Zero sailed smoother and with better control in their manoeuvres.

Ten minutes after stopping, they continued sailing on the racecourse and did two laps. At every lap, they took the gate in a different tack so they could train to bear away and to luff from each side. They were doing three tacks on the upwind and two gybes downwind.

After sailing these two laps, it was 15:12hrs, and they stopped to perform a replacement from the cycle crew. After they completed the replacement, they went to the race course for more laps.

For the next hour, the breeze kept stable from the same direction from 195º with a bit more intensity, 10 to 14 kts.

Next, they started several races between Boat Zero and the Chase boat, testing various start entry positions.

After the second start, they went for a three-lap race with plenty of crossings between Chase boat and Boat Zero, performing three to six tacks/gybes on each up and downwind leg. Their routine included a perfectly performed JK (mark rounding and exiting on the opposite tack) to cover the chase boat, which took the other (left-hand) gate mark. On the last lap, they performed six tacks in the upwind and seven gybes in the downwind, with plenty of crossings with the Chase boat opponent.

After this training race, at 16:30 hrs, they returned to port sailing upwind, tacking four times.

Docking was completed at 17:05hrs, ending a four-hour on-the-water session. In summary, the Alinghi Redbull Racing Team sailed foiling for 107 minutes and performed 65 manoeuvres: 80 % fully foiling. (Report: Jose Piñana - AC37 Joint Recon team)

Crew - Sailing: Maxime Bachelin, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Rolaz, Yves Detrey. 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 122 - February 29, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 17°C. Sunny
  • Wind Strength: 9-14kts
  • Wind Direction: 195°
  • Sea State: 0.9-1.2mtr
  • Crane In: 1000hrs Dock Out: 1300hrs
  • Dock In: 1705hrs Crane out: 1745
  • Total Tacks: 35 Fully foiling: 28; Touch & Go: 5; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 30 Fully foiling: 24; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 2

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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