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Cup Spy March 13: Swiss return to Jeddah; American Magic on the charge in fresh winds and big swell

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 26 Mar 03:40 PDT 21 March 2024
American Magic - AC40 - Day 103 - March 13, 2024 - Barcelona © Job Vermeulen / America's Cup

Four teams sailed out of Barcelona, Auckland and Jeddah, with all sailing AC40's in development mode.

Two - American Magic and Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed paired AC40s, with the latter returning to Jeddah for their fifth session. Orient Express capsized towards the end of their session off Barcelona and towed back to base.

What happened in the Cup - March 13, 2024:

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Returned to Jeddah and their two AC40's for a further period of two-boat testing - expected to focus on sail testing and development of a match racing playbook.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand - sailed their LEQ12, developed on a platform of an AC40 hull. At this stage of the AC game teams are very coy with what is being tested. This session the Kiwis sailed with test wingfoils, their port foil arm protrusion removed, and custom design sails. The session ended after 2.5hrs with a minor electrical problem.
  • American Magic - the US team had both their AC40s in action in medium to fresh winds of up to 24kts, and with a sea state of over an metre - challenging for the AC40 foiling geometry. They handled the conditions impressively taking on the sea state at pace. Custom design sails were used, along with One Design foils - indicating maybe that the US team had done a lot of simulator work orientated around developing techniques to handle the awkward Barcelona sea state, and today they were verifying the accuracy of their flight control, sail trimming and helmsmanship. America with the "A" sailing team of Slingsby/Goodison/Campbell/Menninger had an 85% dry foiling maneuver percentage over the 75% of the "B" sailing team.
  • Orient Express Racing Team - Also encountered freshening conditions, and after a session for media shots did a two lap virtual race, with good tack/gybe foiling stats. They capsized in the break, took on water and returned to base.
  • INEOS Britannia - No AC37 Recon Team report.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - No report. The Italian team have retired their LEQ12 test boat, which has served the team well. They have notified an April launch date for their AC75 raceboat.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40x2 - Day 82 - March 13, 2024 - Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Alinghi Red Bull Racing commenced their fifth trip to Jeddah with the rollout of their AC40-4 (Red) and AC40-7 (Black) at 09:15 hrs and 10:15 hrs, respectively, each equipped with One Design appendages.

Other than standard systems checks, a small angle grinder was used in the port cockpit of the Red boat, but it needs to be clarified exactly what was modified.

Full LEQ12 custom sail plans were prepared for the day, including the new J2-5 LE jib, which has different batten angles and the panel along the luff of the sail compared with the J2-4 LEQ12. GoPros were set up on extensions at the masthead of both rigs.

The team docked out at 12:30hrs with Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin at the helm of the Black boat, with Bryan Mettraux and Nico Charbonnier trimming. Phil Robertson and Dean Barker helmed the Red boat, with Jason Waterhouse and Nico Rolaz trimming. Sails were hoisted in the Obhur Creek before being towed to the Red Sea for the day's session.

Phase 1 (20 mins, wind 6-9.5kts from 210°) Both boats started with free sailing upwind. The Red boat paused to work on sail setup, dropping and re-hoisting the J2 to fine-tune sail settings. Black continued an upwind/downwind in the meantime.

Phase 2 (10 mins) Both boats came together to sail downwind, not in sync, stopping shortly after as techs jumped on board.

Phase 3 (30 mins, wind 7-10kts from 200°) The team sailed a long upwind stretch, where both boats executed tacks in sync, followed by split tacks. This led to competitive tacks up to a stationary chase boat at windward, with Red rolling over Black as they touched down during a tack around the chase. Both boats then sailed a long downwind together back to the course start line. The course was set at 210°.

Phase 4 (15mins, wind 5-7.5kts 200° ) With a decrease in wind, Black struggled to take off, as Red managed to fly only briefly after being tow started. Attempts to maintain flight during manoeuvres were unsuccessful, leading both boats to drop their J2 jibs in favour of hoisting the custom J1-5 on Red and custom J1-4 LE on Black.

Phase 5 (20 mins, wind 4-6kts 190° ) Both boats were tow-started with Red falling off the foils and Black maintaining flight briefly but touching down during a tack. Despite a successful foiling tack by Black, both boats eventually dropped sails after multiple attempts to foil, and towed back to base to conclude the first day of the trip.

The team spent three hours on the water, of which 105 minutes was spent sailing. A total of 55 manoeuvres were observed of the Black boat, achieving an 87% fully foiling rate.

[Report from: Jose L. Piñana AC Recon/Edited by S-W NZ]

Crew: Sailing: Arnaud Psarofaghis, Maxime Bachelin, Nico Charbonnier, Bryan Mettraux, Dean Barker, Phil Robertson, Nico Rolaz, Jason Waterhouse

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40x2 - Day 82 - March 13, 2024 - Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

  • Weather: 32° degrees. Sunny.
  • Wind Strength: 7-10kts
  • Wind Direction: 190°-200°
  • Sea State: 0.4mtr SW
  • Crane In: 1010|1040hrs Dock Out: 1230hrs
  • Dock In: 1535hrs Crane out: 1600hrs
  • Total Tacks: 37 Fully foiling: 31; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 5
  • Total Gybes: 18 Fully foiling: 17; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 1

Emirates Team New Zealand - LEQ12 - Day 70 - March 13, 2024 - Auckland

Day 70 of LEQ12 sailing with ETNZ. Standard rigging procedures and crane in around 10:30hrs, the team set up for the day. Recon observed that the addition to the port foil arm had been removed. Running through some standard dock checks, they departed at 11:00hrs, towing down the harbour.

Hoisting the M2 and J3 sails under the lee of North Head, the team proceeded to sail out towards the northern shoreline of Rangitoto. With flat water and a building southwesterly breeze, the team sailed a few quick Windward-Leewards. Chase 1 set up a start line with two marks in the water.

The team set out to work on some starting manoeuvres involving aggressive roundups and bearaways with various board combinations. After the "start," the team sailed a simulation race using the start line as a bottom gate. Recon observed many combination manoeuvres, such as late gybes into the bottom gate and tacked bearaways at the top mark.

Just before 1200 hrs, the team stopped for a drinks break and removed the outboard sensors. They started sailing again and got back into the same drills, focusing on start manoeuvring. They completed another three starts and two laps windward/leewards around a virtual top mark.

During an upwind lap, the team completed a tack bearaway early gybe combination, falling off the foils out of the gybe and coming to a stop. Then, after about a 20-minute break, the team dropped sails and headed in for the day, towing in from the northern shore of Rangitoto back to the base.

Recon spoke to Blair Tuke after sailing and asked what the issue was. He commented that they had a slight electrical issue onboard, which ended the session.

[AC Recon team: Sam Thom and Andrew Burgess]

Crew: Peter Burling, Nathan Outteridge, Andy Maloney, Blair Tuke

Session Statistics: Emirates Team New Zealand - LEQ12 - Day 69 - March 6, 2024 - Auckland

  • Weather: 20-22°C Sunny
  • Wind Strength: 12-18kts
  • Wind Direction: 230°
  • Sea State: 0.2mtr
  • Crane In: 1030hrs Dock Out: 1100hrs
  • Dock In: 1330hrs Crane out: 1340hrs
  • Sailing time: 160 minutes
  • Sailing distance: 53nm
  • Tacks: 21 - Fully foiling: 21; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 17 - Fully foiling: 16; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 1

American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 x 2 - Day 101 - March 13, 2024 - Barcelona

When the AC37 Joint Recon team arrived at the American Magic Team base this morning, AC40-5 “America” was already afloat; we guess it was rolled out around 9.00hrs and craned in around 9:45hrs.

AC40-8 “Magic” was not rolled out until 12:40hrs and craned in at 13.45hrs.

According to coach Tom Burnham, when interviewed today, they had some problems yesterday with one of the flaps from Magic. They diagnosed it yesterday night, and this morning, it took longer than expected to fix it, but they managed to have Magic sailing on today’s session.

America still has the cameras we have commented on in the past few days. They are installed in the bottom of the side of the hull, a couple of meters forward from the foil arms (see pictures). No lidar devices were installed today on any of the boats.

The operations team and sailors made some regular checks on the America AC40 throughout the morning. While in Magic, they were working on finishing the repair on the OD starboard foil. At around 13:30hrs, all the crew involved in the sailing session made a quick debrief, and at 13:45hrs, the team from America AC40 docked out. Magic docked out just 15 minutes later.

At 14:00hrs, America had already hoisted the MC-5 mainsail and paired it with a custom jib, J3-C-1. When the sails were hoisted, she started sailing to the training race course that the American Magic team had set a bit leeward of Port Olympic.

At that time, the wind was around 14 to 24 kts from 220º.

Around 14:15 hrs, Magic hoisted its MC4 mainsail and paired it with a one-design jib, J3-4. When the sails were hoisted, she went to find America on the training race course.

From here, the sailing session was conducted as follows:

Phase 1 (45min): warm up from the two AC40s with some lines up and down, manoeuvres and stops to verify that all systems are running correctly.

Phase 2 (25 mins): Magic went for one prestart exercise while waiting for America to join. Just after Magic finished the exercise, America joined, and they went for another prestart exercise together. Magic crossed the line first in port tack and America did it after in starboard tack. They both managed to start at the right moment and in equal positions. They raced for one lap in the upwind / downwind course and stopped after rounding the down wind gate mark. Magic won that race.

Phase 3 (55 mins): The team moved the course a bit more offshore as there were plenty of people windsurfing around, and it felt a bit dangerous to sail around them. While doing that, Magic was practising some prestart moves and went into a heavy nose dive. They broke the bow Windex and had to replace it.

When they replaced the Windex, both boats started sailing together back to the start line and proceeded with another prestart. As before, Magic got into the box first in port tack, and America did it some seconds after in starboard tack. Something happened to America that caused it to lose foiling some seconds before the start, and only Magic managed to start on time in that exercise. America stopped, and Magic stopped after a short up-and-downwind line. They both changed batteries @16.25hrs.

Phase 4 (95 mins): The first half-hour of this phase focused on changing batteries, some maintenance, and a debrief at each AC40.

They then followed with another prestart. They came into the box in the same order as before. Magic won the start, and they continued into a two-lap race, which Magic also won.

Next, they went for the fourth prestart of the day (together). Now, America comes into the box first in port tack, and Magic comes after in starboard tack. After a nice battle in the box, they managed to start on time, and Magic to leeward of America. They did one upwind to the top gate, downwind to the bottom gate, and final upwind to port. Magic also won this race.

Dock in was completed at 18:20hrs for Magic and 18:25hrs for America.

In summary, America today foiled for 130 minutes and performed around 75 maneuvers, 80 % fully foiling, and Magic foiled around 150 minutes and performed around 81 maneuvers, 80 % fully foiling. Both did four prestarts together (Magic +1 alone) and three upwind / downwind courses against each other. Jose Piñana AC Recon

Crew: Co-Helms: America: Tom Slingsby / Paul Goodison; Magic: Lucas Calabrese / Harry Melges.

Flight Control Trimmers: America: Andrew Campbell / Michael Menninger; Magic: Riley Gibbs / Kyle Langford

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 x 2 - Day 101 - March 13, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 16 °C - Sunny.
  • Wind Strength: 12kts-24kts
  • Wind Direction: 220°
  • Sea State: 0.6 - 1.2mtrs 220°
  • Crane In:0945|1345hrs Dock Out: 1400hrs
  • Dock In: 1825|1810hrs Crane out: 1830|1850hrs
  • Total Tacks: 18 (America) 21 (Magic) 80/75% Foiling
  • Total Gybes: 18 (America) 21 (Magic) 80/75% Foiling

Orient Express Racing Team - AC40 - Day 12 - March 13, 2024 - Barcelona

The OE Racing Team craned their AC40 to the water at 10:20 hrs. It had been left with the mast up and out of the shed overnight. The team docked out at 12.00, as planned.

An extra media chase boat with photographers and videographers joined for most of the session.

The custom-designed LEQ12-J3 and the LEQ12-MN-A mainsail were hoisted while heading out of the harbour at 12:05 hrs and 12:10 hrs, respectively, and were the only sails used during the day.

Just before the start of the training, adjustments were made to the mainsail´s luff in the lower part of both skins, possibly on the lowest battens.

A building southwesterly prevailed during today´s session, providing the best sailing conditions of the last two weeks in Barcelona.

For the first forty-five minutes, the Orient Express Racing Team warmed up by sailing upwind and downwind, doing a few tacks and gybes. The boat captain had to get on board twice to make some adjustments to the lower back part of the mainsail, next to the clew.

By 13:20 hrs, the warmup was finished, and the AC40 did some “zeros” and “eights” around chase one, intentionally dedicated to the media photographers and videographers so that they could get some close shots.

At 13:30hrs, the team switched into racing mode and did the first upwind-downwind two-lap race with a virtual starting line, marks, and boundaries, performing two to three tacks and gybes per leg.

Right after the start of the second race at 14:05 hrs, there was a ten-minute break during which batteries were substituted.

Twenty minutes later, once the replacement was finished, the boat capsized to the port side when the AC40 tried to get released from Chase One to resume sailing. Immediately after, the boat was towed to help it get its head to the wind, and a few seconds later, it was upright. This process did not take more than two minutes. Nevertheless, a lot of water got inside the port-side cockpits.

At that point, the team decided to end the training and lowered both sails.

OE entered the port on the tow with no sails at 15.30 hrs and docked at 15:38hrs. Twenty minutes later, the boat was craned out, indicating the end of the day.

Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on OE Racing Team

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

Session Statistics: Orient Express Racing Team - AC40 - Day 12 - March 13, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 18 degrees C. Mostly sunny
  • Wind Strength 15-17kts
  • Wind Direction: 215-220°
  • Sea State: 0.5mtr Slight chop
  • Crane In: 1020rs Dock Out: 1200hrs
  • Dock In: 1538hrs Crane out: 1555hrs
  • Total Tacks: 23 - Fully foiling: 22; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 16 - Fully foiling: 16; 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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