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America's Cup: Swiss launch a beauty of detail in Barcelona

by Magnus Wheatley, America's Cup Media 16 Apr 21:59 PDT
Chiara Bertarelli performed special honours at the Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC75 BoatOne Presentation at the Team Base in Barcelona, Spain on April 16, 2024 © Samo Vidic/Alinghi Red Bull Racing

It was the Marquess of Anglesey that commented in 1851, when he saw the radical yacht ‘America’ in British waters for the first time: “If she’s right, we must all be wrong.” And there’s a real resonance of Anglesey’s words when you see the Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC75 up close and personal.

Tuesday was the official launch at the team's beautiful base in the heart of the Port Vell with Chiara Bertarelli, daughter of Ernesto, cracking the bottle on the foredeck and naming the boat that the whole of Switzerland hopes will regain old glories and win the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona later this year. To the sounds of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers ‘Don’t Stop’ (the team song) blasting from the on-base speaker system, the Alinghi Red Bull Racing family came together to celebrate the first launch and another milestone in their journey.

Co-General Manager Silvio Arrivabene welcomed everyone saying: “When we launched BoatZero more than a year ago, we couldn’t even see the top. Now we’re at the last camp, and we’re going for the summit.” True words. The team’s learning curve has been vertical but logical with great decisions taken along the way and a real intensity to everything they do. The resultant design speaks volumes for the overall programme.

Be in no doubt, this is a beauty from Marcelino Botin and his design team, working with many facets of the Red Bull sporting stable, including Red Bull Advanced Technologies, to achieve an overall package that looks racy fast and a slightly different direction from the progressive designs we have seen from Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. The eye is drawn to detailing all over the boat, yet tricked by the cut away cockpit that has the distinct effect of shortening the length and making it feel light and nimble. This looks like a boat that deserves to be pushed hard around a racetrack – and that’s certainly its fate over the coming months.

Detail is everywhere from stem to stern. The pronounced spray chine, the likes of which we have seen before on IMOCA and VO70 designs, runs immediately and pointedly off the bow and kicks off an in-the-water profile that screams fast flight with the fine-entry bustle/skeg broadening to a considerable radius by the transom being the only intersection whilst in displacement under sail. On the foredeck, the bumps that will form a tunnel or perhaps even a ‘Venturi’ effect for the jib are remarkably noticeable in the light of the day and lead logically to a low-profile bow leading back to the super-aero cockpit.

At launch today, the team kept the cockpits covered but on the way out of the harbour for the first commissioning tow-test, it was clear that the cyclors will be aft in very aero designed pods. The position of the helm and trimmer positions was confimed with the trimmer forward in a very aero position down low and the helm in pod position two, just forward of the cyclors.

Speaking about the design process Silvio Arrivabene, co-General Manager was full of praise for the process, saying: “The design brief was to go further. If we look back at the previous campaigns, back in the day, it was always about pushing and that’s in the DNA of the team and that’s why you see a boat like this. We pushed every area, and the result is the result of collaboration between Marcelino's team and so many parts of the Red Bull operation in an integrated fashion including Red Bull Advanced Technolgies...It’s a beautiful boat, a different boat to others, with a lot of potential.”

Arnaud Psarofaghis, the nominated skipper, was equally excited about the possibilities that the design of the new Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC75 presented, saying: “The philosophy was to do two steps instead of one, so the boat is radical and we just went for it, that’s what we were looking for...now the boat is built, we have our design, yes we can still tweak a few bits on the outside but our main focus, which it has been for a really long time, is within the systems. Where and how we can morph the shape of the sails and the foils is going to be key between the lighter and the transition. I think the systems will make the difference on the water and it’s where the team is really working together between the designers, the mechatronics and as well with the sailors to make that work well. We will find out who chose the right solutions. What is really interesting looking at the Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli designs is that we are all of the same family, but the systems are quite different.”

Maxime Bachelin, who is forming an intuitive helming partnership with Arnaud contextualised the launch saying: “It’s one of the greatest days of my life. The feelings of all the team is really about all the hard work we have been doing for three years and I think the designer made a massive work and delivered the boat we need for the conditions in Barcelona, and as well the boatbuilders did an amazing job to be able to follow the plan of the designers as the boat is quite crazy...For us it was a lot of input from the sailmakers, sailors and everyone, every time we sailed on BoatZero it was a massive help to us at the end of every session to have input to go into BoatOne, every day after sailing we had meetings to talk about what we wanted or what we needed to improve and I think that is why we achieved such a boat.”

Lucien Cujean, a key member of the Driving Group echoed Maxime’s words, talking about the feeling in the team, saying: “Everyone on this team, it doesn’t matter their rank, is really open-minded and that’s a very clever approach...it was a really nice exchange between the sailors and design team but with all the data team we have with us we were able to create a bank of data from the last Cup and with all of these numbers and graphs that they have been analysing, as sailors we’ve been asked to try stuff, try stuff on the creative mock-up, try stuff on the simulator, even trying stuff on BoatZero – we were very lucky to have this first generation boat. Yes it was hard but in the end it proved just how necessary it was to have this boat and this type of foils, understanding the past but also the way we have to go.”

Alinghi Red Bull racing have gone all-out to try and win the Louis Vuitton 37th America's Cup with this design. Confidence is coursing through the team but tempered by some wise heads who know all too well that the launch is just the beginning of a very exciting and hard journey.

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