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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Emirates Team NZ and American Magic keep up speed testing and race practice ahead of AC75 launches

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 3 Apr 22:27 PDT 4 April 2024
Emirates Team New Zealand - AC40 - Day 74 - April 3, 2024 - Auckland © Sam Thom/America's Cup

Two teams have sailed so far this week. American Magic sailed twice out of Barcelona. Emirates Team New Zealand sailed twice - once with the Youth/Women's crew in the AC40-OD (no AC37 Recon Team report) and on Wednesday with the LEQ12 and AC40 working through a racing/speed session.

All teams seem to be focused on their impending AC75 race boat launches. Only one team, Luna Rossa has announced a formal date (April 13). For some reason the others are being overly secretive.

In the interview in this edition, responding to a question as the expected AC75 performance differences from the 2021 Cup boats, ETNZ's Nathan Outteridge makes the comment that "the biggest performance gain with the new boat will be the light air performance. The boats are lighter, the foils have, you know a bit more span because of the rule. So we'll find out in a few weeks exactly how much faster it is in those conditions."

The obvious area for gain from the 2021 America's Cup was to enable the AC75s to start foiling at less than the minimum windspeed of 6.5kts four minutes before the race start. While it is accurate to look to gains in wing foil design, and all up boat weight (with now only eight crew instead of 11), the critical issue will be getting the new AC75s to take off in a lesser apparent wind-strength, and better angle. Currently the take-off speeds for the existing but modified three AC75's is about 14-16kts.

What happened in the Cup - April 2-3, 2024:

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing: The Swiss have announced that their AC75 race boat will not be launched before April 5 - believed to be two months notification.

  • Emirates Team New Zealand: Sailed last week and two days so far this week. No launch date was advised for their AC75 raceboat, although in early February, they gave notice of the two months of their AC75 launch at about the same time as Alinghi.

  • American Magic: Sailed for two days this week and one day in the previous fortnight. Their AC75 raceboat has been flown to Barcelona for commissioning. No launch date was advised for their AC75 raceboat.

  • Orient Express Racing Team: No AC37 Recon Team report. A launch date has yet to be publicly advised for their AC75 raceboat.

  • INEOS Britannia: No AC37 Recon Team report. No launch date was advised for their AC75 raceboat.

  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: No AC37 Recon Team report. In a refreshing comparison with the other teams, the Italians have notified an April 13 launch date for their AC75 raceboat and that the event will be live-streamed from Cagliari, Sardinia.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Emirates Team New Zealand - AC40-OD/LEQ12 - Day 74 - April 3, 2024 - Auckland

[AC37 Joint Recon team: Sam Thom and Andrew Burgess]

Day 74 of sailing in the Hauraki Gulf for ETNZ consisted of more two-boat testing for LEQ 12. The AC40 OD departed from the dock around 1200hrs in a very light, northeasterly breeze, planning to spend some additional time on the water before the "A-Team" joined for race simulation practice.

Today, the AC40 OD was sailed by Josh Junior, Leo Takahashi, Sam Meech, and Marcus Hansen. The LEQ12 was sailed by the usual line-up of Peter Burling, Nathan Outteridge, Andy Maloney and Blair Tuke.

[S-W: Arguably, the AC40OD with Josh Junior and Leonard Takahashi is the more experienced match race crew. JJ is a former NZ match racing champion, and Leonard Takahashi has competed very successfully on international match race circuits. With their Olympic 49er/Int Moth backgrounds, Peter Burling and Nathan Outteridge have very similar skills. They are apparent wind sailors and are speed specialists.]

LEQ 12 left the dock at 1300hrs and hoisted the J2 and M2 mainsails just outside the harbour before towing out towards Rangitoto Lighthouse to meet the waiting AC40 OD.

Initially, LEQ 12 required a tow to get on the foils because the wind was below the foiling self-start range.

The AC40 OD utilised its J1, enabling a smoother takeoff at the lower end of the breeze. Chase 1 dropped a windward-leeward course as the teams rolled into some race simulations, performing three rolling pre-starts before sailing around the course and taking a break for drinks.

During the first couple of rolling pre-starts in the downrange conditions, the OD40 held the upper hand and manoeuvred into advantageous positions. At one point, they hooked LEQ 12, luffing them head to wind and off the foils without losing their own foiling stance. Subsequently, they executed a well-timed start while LEQ 12 struggled to regain flight without assistance.

After the short break, the wind increased, leading to a shift in power dynamics during the starting procedure, with LEQ 12 proving dominant over the OD40. Although both teams had competitive starts, the OD40 consistently struggled to match LEQ 12's speed during manoeuvres and speed builds.

The crews continued practising rolling pre-starts, engaging in tightly fought battles using various starting tactics.

After a short drinks break, the crews completed a few more starts and then sailed back up the harbour, dropping sails just outside the base and concluding the day's session.

[S-W: We watched the tail end of the session, which was sailed in a nice sea breeze. The final drill consisted of what appeared to be an engagement prior to a mark rounding, with both boats coming out near even, but split tacks, heading for what appeared to be two gate marks upwind. The LEQ12 took the right-hand side, with the AC40-OD working on the left. Mid-leg, the LEQ12 looked to have a big lead, but they took opposite gates, and counting out the margin, the LEQ12 had a 6-second lead - which is handy but easily erased by finding a shift or more pressure. There was no lead change or noticeable margin increase, and the LEQ 12 rounded the bottom mark and headed for home. The AC40-OD stayed out, and it looked like they had a crew change and did more training in the excellent sea breeze, which provided excellent self-start and foiling conditions.]

AC37 Recon interviewed Nathan Outteridge, asking some set questions about the two-boat testing and the upcoming AC75 launch.

Crew:LEQ12 - Peter Burling, Nathan Outteridge, Andy Maloney, Blair Tuke. AC40-OD: Josh Junior, Leo Takahashi, Sam Meech, and Marcus Hansen

Session Statistics: Emirates Team New Zealand - AC40-OD/LEQ12 - Day 74 - April 3, 2024 - Auckland

  • Weather: 18-23° Cloudy
  • Wind Strength: 3-12kts
  • Wind Direction: 030°
  • Sea State: 0.1tr
  • Crane In: 1150hrs Dock Out: 1300hrs
  • Dock In: 1630hrs Crane out: 1650hrs
  • Sailing time: 200 minutes
  • Sailing distance: 25nm
  • Tacks: Not recorded
  • Total Gybes: Not recorded

American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 - Day 105 - April 3, 2024 - Barcelona

AC40-8 'Magic' was launched at 10:05hrs, and AC40-5 'America' launched 20 minutes later.

When alongside the dock, sailors and engineers performed the standard gear checks to ensure everything was in perfect condition before the sailing session.

After a short briefing between all the team members involved in the sailing session, the team proceeded with the dock out at 11:25 hrs.

At 11:35 hrs, both boats started hoisting their mainsails: MC-4 for America and MC-5 for Magic, which they paired with J2 custom design jibs.

The forecast was looking quite tricky for today, but at that point, the wind was blowing 5-8tkts from 230º, so sailing was possible.

At 11:55 hrs, the practice session started.

The first drill lasted 20 minutes and consisted of the usual pre-drill speed checks; once foiling, both AC40s got into test speed check positions and went into a downwind leg on the starboard side of the practice zone.

After two gybes, they arrived in front of Port Olympic, where one of the team's chase boats set a start line. They stopped for a couple of minutes and then continued sailing together on an upwind course. After three tacks, they stopped. The wind was gone.

The team kept waiting for the wind for almost one hour, and at 13:10hrs, we had wind again: 5-8 kts from 70º

Meanwhile, they changed the jibs into custom J1 for America and One Design J1 for Magic. It looked like America had a problem with their J1 (confirmed by Sean Clarkson in today's interview), so they switched to a custom J1.5.

The second drill lasted 50 minutes and consisted of executing three pre-starts. In all of them, America was first to enter the start box on the port side, and Magic entered later on the starboard side. As yesterday, we could see good tactical fights between both crews when approaching the line, except in the last start, when the wind was very light, and they did not manage to reach the start line foiling.

After the two first starts, they sailed a small distance upwind and crossed each other several times. America was leading despite sailing with the smaller jib in relatively light conditions. [S-W: Unlike keelboats, provided they can foil and hold their height, a smaller jib is usually an advantage on a foiling monohull.]

After the third start, they waited 15 minutes for the wind to return. As the wind continued dropping and the forecast was not good, the team decided to finish the session and tow the boats back to port.

Sails were dropped around 14:25hrs, and dock-in was done 10 minutes later.

Jose Piñana AC Recon

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

Trimmers America: Andrew Campbell, Michael Menninger; Magic: Riley Gibbs, Kyle Langford.

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 - Day 105 - April 3, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 20 °C - Sunny.
  • Wind Strength: 5kts-8kts
  • Wind Direction: 70°-200°
  • Sea State: 0.6 - 1.2mtrs 210°
  • Dock Out: 1125hrs
  • Dock In: 1435hrs
  • Total Tacks: 14 each - 85% dry foiling
  • Total Gybes: 18 each - 85% dry foiling

American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 - Day 104 - April 2, 2024 - Barcelona

AC40-8 'Magic' was launched at 12.20hrs, and AC40-5 America' launched 20 minutes later.

When alongside, sailors and engineers did their standard checks to be sure everything was in perfect condition before the sailing session. America appears to have a new camera or scanner located over the hatch from the bow deck.

In the dock, we saw Severin Gramm (a sail trimmer) with an injury to his right hand. It appeared that he would have some weeks off before he could sail.

We could also see Steph Roble from the women's team helping when stepping the masts on the AC40s and later on board the chase boat. After a short briefing with all the team members involved in the sailing session, the team proceeded with the dock out at 14:00 hrs.

At 14:10hrs, both boats start hoisting their mainsails: MC-4 for America and MC-5 for Magic.

The wind came in around 15:45hrs, blowing 5-8kts from 200º. Both AC-40s hoisted their jibs: J1.5 C-2 for America and J1.5 C-1 for Magic. According to the latest component declaration, mainsail MC-4 and jibs J1.5 C1 & C2 were modified. New windows were installed in the three sails, but from the chase boat could not see anything else.

At 15:55hrs, the Practice session started, compromising three distinct phases/drills.

The first drill lasted 30 minutes (15:55 h to 16:25 h). Once foiling, both AC40s got into position to check speed and went into an upwind leg on starboard tack. After approximately 5 minutes, they bore away into a downwind leg and kept speed testing on going with four gybes in between. After arriving at a start line set by the team, they started going upwind again in race mode, performing multiple crossings between each other (5-6) until they arrived at a top mark set at one mile (approximately from the starting line). After rounding the mark, they headed to the start line making it in two gybes for Magic and one gybe for America.

The second drill lasted 15 minutes. The two AC40s performed three pre-starts, and then they stopped for a quick 5-10-minute briefing with their respective chase boats. It is assumed they used separate coaches to make the training even more independently competitive.

The third drill lasted 35 minutes, starting at 1640 hrs. At this time, the wind was around 7-12kts from 220º.

They proceeded with five more pre-starts. We could see close fights between both boats. This combat was intense when they approached the line in the same tack. We could see very aggressive manoeuvres of bearing and luffing one against the other.

At some starts, they both managed to start with great speed and well positioned to each other; at one of them, they got too early (especially Magic) and at others, it was one of them (sometimes Magic, sometimes America) who won the start.

After the last start, America sailed back to port, and Magic stopped for 5-10 minutes to sort something with her chase boat.

Sails were dropped around 17:40 hrs for America and 17:50 hrs for Magic. Docking was done around 18:00hrs. Jose Piñana AC Recon

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

Trimmers America: Andrew Campbell, Michael Menninger; Magic: Riley Gibbs, Kyle Langford.

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 - Day 104 - April 2, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 14 °C - Cloudy
  • Wind Strength: 5kts-12kts
  • Wind Direction: 180-220°
  • Sea State: 0.7 - 1.1mtrs 195°
  • Dock Out: 1400hrs
  • Dock In: 1800hrs
  • Total Tacks: 18/18 85% Foiling
  • Total Gybes: 21/22 85% Dry Foiling

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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