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Cup Spy May 22-23: Debris in the Cup venue has caused at least one AC75 to suffer damage

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 24 May 04:30 PDT 21 May 2024
Diver climbs back onto Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 20 - May 23, 2024 - Barcelona © Paul Todd / America's Cup

Two teams, sailing AC75s are believed to have struck UFOs (unidentified floating objects) over the past two days, forcing them to stop sailing.

When Alinghi Red Bull Racing was hauled, its rudder appeared to have suffered damage to the starboard side.

On Wednesday INEOS Britannia also stopped sailing suddenly towards the end of the session, and went under tow back to base. The recon team noticed floating logs in the vicinity of the British boat. But no damage was seen when the AC75 was hauled.

Later the Recon team were advised that the Brits would not be sailing until Monday in the following week, when originally they were due to sail on the next day, Thursday. No reason was given for the delay, which may have been for a completely unrelated issue.

On Wednesday, the Recon team following American Magic saw one of their coach RIBs towing the semi-submerged branch of a tree, and there may have been other similar debris in the training area.

Four teams sailed on Wednesday - Emirates Team New Zealand out of Auckland with their two AC40s and bringing the Youth and Womens crews some on the water experience to complement the hours spent on the AC40 simulator. In the post session interview, Leonard Takahashi and accomplished match racer and Tokyo2020 Olympic representative in the 49er confirmed that he was the skipper of the ETNZ Youth AC crew. In Barcelona Alinghi Red Bull Racing, INEOS Britannia and American Magic sailed in moderate to fresh breezes (14-16kts), and what some described as the worst seaway they had experienced - as can be seen on the Highlights videos.

What happened in the Cup - May 22-23, 2024:

  • Emirates Team New Zealand continued with their week-long training block for Youth and Womens America's Cup squads. Today Wednesday, the Kiwis were beset with light winds of under 9kts. ETNZ's AC75 has been decommissioned and is in the process of being shipped to Barcelona. It left NZ on Tuesday afternoon and will go through the Panama Canal en route to Spain.
  • American Magic put in an almost four hour on the water session off Barcelona in winds reported to be 12-18kts and seas running at 1.6metres. The day seemed to be aimed more at boat handling and crew co-ordination in the conditions. There didn't seem to be any issues other than with batteries. At around 7mins 50secs, we can see a brief hookup with INEOS Britannia, in which American Magic seems to enjoy an advantage.
  • INEOS Britannia sailed their AC75 in moderate winds of up to 16hts and a seaway of up to 1.5metres - well within the AC75s capabilities. For reasons which are not clear the Brits suddenly stopped the session and towed back to their base. No damage was visible. The next sailing day was pushed back from Thursday to Monday May 27th.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing started sailing in moderate winds of up to 14kts. They broke a batten after lunch and elected to return to base to fix it, before heading out onto the race area at 1500hrs. The wind died towards the end of the day to 6kts - giving the Swiss problems dry foiling during tacks and gybes. In Thursday's session the Swiss were the only team to sail in Barcelona. Winds were lighter to the point where foiling was difficult on occasions. The sea state eased to less than half its height of Wednesday
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli did not sail. The Italians have decommissioned their AC75 in preparation for relocation to the team's America's Cup base in Barcelona.
  • Orient Express Racing Team: No Recon Team Report indicating that if they are sailing then it is in one design mode. Their AC75 is in Barcelona however a launch date has yet to be publicly advised.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 20 - May 23, 2024 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC75 at 10:50hrs. The boat was craned to the water at 11:14hrs and the team docked out at 13:00hrs, as planned.

The M2-1 [mainsail] was selected for the session, combined with the J2-1 [jib]. Both sails were hoisted just before heading out of the port at 13:25hrs.

Light easterly winds prevailed during the short session, combined with flat seas.

The first part of the training consisted of two upwind-downwind legs, in approximately seven knots of breeze, with a short break in between in which routine checks were carried out by the technicians.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailed slightly heeled to windward, and with a more aggressive pitch angle than most other days, flying higher on the stern and with the bow pointing lower. In addition, a few tacks and gybes were executed, struggling to be able to fly consistently on most of the upwind maneuvers.

At 14:20hrs ARBR was back at the the race-course area, where marks had been laid to practice some pre-starts.

Unfortunately, when entering the box on starboard tack for the first sequence, the AC75 hit a non-identified semi-submerged object with the rudder that forced the boat to head into the wind and stop for precaution.

Immediately after, a diver jumped into the water to assess the situation and identified damage on the rudder blade. Once he was out of the water, the team proceeded to lower both sails and then headed back to the base on the tow at low speeds on displacement mode.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing entered the harbor on the tow at 15:00hrs and docked at 15:08hrs. The boat was craned out of the water and damage was identified on the starboard side of the rudder blade.

The team plans to resume their sailing activities from tomorrow.

Sebastian Peri Brusa - Recon on ARBR

Crew:

Sailing: Arnaud Psarofaghis (stb) - Maxime Bachelin (port); Bryan Mettraux (stb) - Nicolas Charbonnier (port)

Power: T. Schir - A. Maillefer - F. Noti - N. Theunink

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 20 - May 23, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 21 degrees. Mostly sunny
  • Wind Strength 6kts-14kts
  • Wind Direction: 140 degrees - 155 degrees
  • Sea State: 0.75mtrs swell, disorganised swell and choppy.
  • Crane In: 1020hrs Dock Out: 1300 & 1500 hrs
  • Dock In: 1440hrs & 1750hrs; Crane out: 1820hrs
  • Takeoff Angle: All self - no data.
  • Total Tacks: 25 - Fully foiling: 14; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 9
  • Total Gybes: 28 - Fully foiling: 18; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 8

American Magic - AC75 - Day 10 - May 22, 2024 - Barcelona

American Magic rolled out Patriot at 09:45hrs and craned the yacht in at 10:15hrs.

Tell tales have been added to the deck around the crew area. It was later noted that a cover was added to cover half the port forward cyclor pod. This cover looked to be made of a canvas material, but its possible it was solid. It also had tell tales on the surface. The starboard cyclor pod was not visible from the recon spot at the base, so it is not confirmed whether there was also a cover on this side or not. Standard checks were carried out ahead of dockout at 11:55hrs, with the MN2-1 and J2-1 prepared for sailing.

Sailing commenced at 12:25hrs, with 12-15knots measured and a large sea state, made up of residual swell over 1m in height, from the mistral offshore, combined with windchop.

This is the first time Patriot has been sailed in such conditions, with the yacht initially looking unstable. Multiple adjustments at the clews of the sails were observed during the day, in order to bring centre of effort lower, as explained by Tom Slingsby in the post sailing interview. Stability improved and the team were able to perform more consistent manoeuvre, especially at the end of the day. The wind increased in the afternoon, with gusts measured up to 18 knots, as the team exchanged their J2 jib for the J3-1 after an hour on the water.

Most of the sailing today consisted of free laps around the set course, as the team dialled in boat settings and their technique in conditions new to the boat. A cyclor rotation and a second battery change were carried out at 14:20, after 50 minutes of active sailing. The first battery change occurred within the first 20 minutes of active sailing, but it was confirmed that the team was struggling with battery issues throughout the day. Water was also observed being bailed out of the jib track cutout.

Sails were dropped by 15:20hrs and the team docked in at 16:20hrs, after just under four hours on the water, of which 80 minutes were spent sailing. 35 maneuvers were observed, 91% fully foiling.

[Justin Busuttil - AC Recon]

Crew:

Sailing: Tom Slingsby, Paul Goodison, Michael Menninger, Andrew Campbell

Power: John Croom, James Wright, Carlton Hall, Madison Molitor, Ashton Lambie, Austin Regier, Chris Shirley, Cooper Dressler

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC75 - Day 10 - May 22, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 21 degrees Part cloudy
  • Wind Strength: 12-18kts
  • Wind Direction: 130-190 degrees
  • Sea State: 0.9-1.65mtrs from SE
  • Crane In: 1015hrs Dock Out: 1155hrs
  • Dock In: 1540hrs Crane out: 1620hrs
  • Takeoff Angle TWA: 60 degrees-80 degrees Boatspeed: 18-20kts
  • Total Tacks: 22; Fully Foiling: 21; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 1;
  • Total Gybes: 13; Fully Foiling: 11; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 1;

INEOS Britannia - AC75 - Day 14 - May 22, 2024 - Barcelona

INEOS Britannia rolled out their AC75 at 09:00hrs on Wednesday and launched at 09:30hrs. Some regular checks and maintenances on the different aero and flight control systems followed.

Two new cameras were seen installed in the portside foil. One was installed on the internal side from the low-pressure side of the foil and the other one was installed just in the middle part from the high-pressure side. The camera seen in the starboard foil was the same than in the last sailing session. Lidars for main and jib sails were also on board.

Dock out was done at 11:35hrs, when Britannia was towed to the entrance of the harbour where sails were hoisted. Main sail MN2 was hoisted and paired to a J2 jib.

A wind of about 8-10kts from 120 degrees was blowing when they finished hoisting the sails and rapidly increased to 11-13kts so after 20 minutes of sailing they had to stop and replace the J2 jib for the J3 jib. Also, the sea state was quite tricky today (not for the AC75) as there was a steep and short wave that made difficult to follow Britannia with the chase boat.

[Mainsail] MN-2 was seen today with new tell-tales configurations on the top of the sail, at both layers, and we are not sure if any other modification had been done.

When sailing with the J3 a very long upwind and downwind was done and then after three races simulations were done using virtual marks. On the first race, two upwind-downwind laps were seen and on the two following races just one lap was done.

The wind increased to 13-16kts from 120 degrees and the team decided to switch the J3 jib for a J4 jib.

We noticed today that the higher shroud from the leeward side was quite loose when sailing with jibs J3 and J4. The spreader could be seen moving in the forward-after direction.

As per what Dylan Fletcher said in the interview after the sailing session, the team was trying different manoeuvres techniques today. Due to the waves it was difficult to follow the boat and watch it properly but it took our attention that some of the gybes were having a 'wet' and low exit as the hull was clearly touching the water but seemed not to be affected on their speed and course angle and were quite successful.

When they changed to jib J4 the first 30 minutes of sailing looked to us that Britannia seemed to not be that clean when gybing than when they had J3 jib. After those 30 minutes they started to nail the gybes as per our perception.

Two more races were done with the J4 before calling the sailing session back to the base.

After the last upwind-downwind race training Britannia started to sail back to port and suddenly stopped and dropped the sails. They were about 1 mile from the port entrance. We could see some wood logs around the area where they stopped and thought that maybe they touched one, but the crew looked calm and the chase boat towed Britannia in foiling mode back to the base - so we thought the boat was fine and they decided to proceed with the towing for a security reason. We could see also see the boat as it came out of the water after the sailing session and no damage was noticed.

Some hours later we heard that INEOS team is not sailing until next Monday 27th when the next sailing day was initially programmed for tomorrow.

As a summary the British team foiled today for about 150 minutes and did 21 tacks (19 fully foiling and 2 touch and go), 24 gybes (21 fully foiling, 2 touch and go, 1 touch down) through a long upwind-downwind and 5 upwind-downwind races. Two cyclors swaps were done (each one after 1 hour of effective sailing), batteries were replaced in the second cyclors swap and 3 jibs were hoisted and sailed today (J2, J3 and J4).

[Report from Jose Luis Piñana - INEOS Britannia AC Recon]

Crew:

Sailing: Dylan Fletcher, Giles Scott,Bleddyn Mon, Leight McMillan (not sure if Luke Parkinson was also trimming today instead of Bleddyn Mon when he was not cycling)

Power: Matt Gotrel, Harry Leak (->Matt Rossiter, Neil Hunter); Ben Cornish, Ryan Todhunter (->James Skulczuk, Luke Parkinson)

Session Statistics: INEOS Britannia - AC75 - Day 14 - May 22, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 17 degreesC Sunny
  • Wind Strength 8-16kts
  • Wind Direction: 120 degrees-150 degrees
  • Sea State: 0.9mtr-1.4mtrs from 165 degrees
  • Crane In: 0930hrs Dock Out: 1135hrs
  • Dock In: 1700hrs Crane out: 1730hrs
  • Takeoff Data: Boatspeed 16kts, Angle 85 degrees, Windspeed Not stated
  • Total Tacks: 21 - Fully foiling: 19; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 24 - Fully foiling: 21; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 1

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 19 - May 22, 2024 - Barcelona

ARBR rolled out their AC75 at 10:00hrs. The boat was craned to the water at 10:20hrs and the team docked out at 13:00hrs, after a one-hour delay, possibly due to unstable and uncertain weather conditions.

The M2-1 mainsail was selected for the session, combined with the legacy [ex the 2021 Cup] jib J3-3L. Both sails were hoisted just before heading out of the port at 13:30hrs.

High instability prevailed during the entire day, providing unstable south-southeasterly winds combined with a very disorganized sea state, that was the distinctive pattern of the session. Possibly the sea state is the worst we have seen so far since the new AC75s have been launched.

The training started with an upwind-downwind, trying to deal with the unusual sea state. Then a short ten-minute break occurred.

The agenda continued with some "zeros", trying to achieve a stable boat with a good coordination in between flight controlling, sails trimming and course changes, in complicated seas. Unfortunately, on one of the turns, apparently one or more mainsail battens got broken. This forced ARBR to proceed to lower both sails just out of the harbor and head back to the base on the tow for their replacement.

The Swiss team was back at the base at 14:37hrs and at 15:00hrs the second dock-out of the day happened with a new set of cyclors onboard, after having replaced the mainsail broken battens and checking the mast for minor damages.

At 15:10hrs the same mainsail was re-hoisted, but this time combined with the J4-1. By 15:30hrs ARBR was already back into training mode, performing a new upwind-downwind. Then further "zeros" were executed in both directions for fifteen minutes.

At 16:05hrs after a short ten-minute break, the AC75 headed to the race-course area, where marks had been laid and the pre-starts training got under way. A total of three sequences were accomplished, altering port and starboard tack entries and different movements inside be box.

Before the start of the third sequence, the J3-3L came up to replace the J4-1 in a dying breeze.

Only the last sequence was not abandoned immediately after the start, which continued with a two-lap upwind-downwind, observing six tacks and gybes per leg, respectively. On the last lap, the AC75 struggled to achieve foiling maneuvers in very light wind conditions, fully landing in most maneuvers.

After rounding the leeward gates, ARBR continued to sail upwind towards the port.

ABBR entered the harbor at 17:25hrs, then sails got lowered and the team docked at 17:50hrs, indicating the end of the day.

Sebastian Peri Brusa - Recon on ARBR

Crew:

Sailing: Arnaud Psarofaghis (stb) - Maxime Bachelin (port); Bryan Mettraux (stb) - Nicolas Charbonnier (port)

Power: T. Schir - A. Maillefer - F. Noti - N. Theunink

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 19 - May 22, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 21 degrees. Mostly sunny
  • Wind Strength 6kts-14kts
  • Wind Direction: 140 degrees - 155 degrees
  • Sea State: 0.75mtrs swell, disorganised swell and choppy.
  • Crane In: 1020hrs Dock Out: 1300 & 1500 hrs
  • Dock In: 1440hrs & 1750hrs; Crane out: 1820hrs
  • Takeoff Angle: All self - no data.
  • Total Tacks: 25 - Fully foiling: 14; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 9
  • Total Gybes: 28 - Fully foiling: 18; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 8

Emirates Team New Zealand - AC40 OD - Day 7 - May 21, 2024 - Auckland

Clear skies started today's sailing session with ETNZ. Heading out early this morning was the Women's team so they could get some more time in the boat before being joined later in the day for two boat practice racing.

After a short lived sailing session in a very light southwesterly the women's team spent the remaining time waiting for wind. Joined by LEQ 12 and getting the crew of Josh Junior, Sam Meech, Marcus Hansen and Gemma Jones onboard the AC40 OD they attempted to get some racing under way down the harbour near Browns Island however both teams struggled to keep foiling as the breeze was below 5 knots and dropping.

Towing out towards Rangitoto Lighthouse the teams managed to find enough wind to get some sailing in and set a course for some starts. The aim of the game was now to keep the boat foiling. Both teams requiring assistance to get foiling from the chaseboats but did manage to get starts away. Watching the starts today was a vast difference from previous days with teams choosing to disengage with each other in favour of keeping the boat foiling. Working hard on minimising manoeuvres during the pre-starts.

At times even sailing to other sides of the starting box from each other. Impressive that the teams were able to keep the boats foiling throughout manoeuvres as at times the breeze was below 6knts.

In these very downrange conditions the J1 of AC40 OD was an advantage through the manoeuvres however LEQ 12 still held a higher speed average.

With the wind delay the teams managed just under an hour of starting practice before calling it a day and heading for the dock.

Recon had an interview with Leo Takahashi - ETNZ Youth America's Cup Sailor, currently the designated helmsman of the ETNZ Youth Teams.

[AC37 Joint Recon Team - Sam Thom and Connor Mashlan]

Session Statistics: Emirates Team New Zealand - LEQ12 & AC40 OD - Day 79 - May 22, 2024 - Auckland

  • Weather: 8 degrees-19 degrees Clear.
  • Wind Strength: 3kts-9kts
  • Wind Direction: SW Fickle
  • Sea State: Flat Inner Harbour
  • Crane In: No Data; Dock Out: 1300hrs;
  • Dock In: 1630hrs; Crane out:
  • Takeoff Angle TWA: NA - AC40s
  • Total Tacks: NA; Fully Foiling: NA; Touch & Go: NA; Touch Down: NA;
  • Total Gybes: NA; Fully Foiling: NA; Touch & Go: NA; Touch Down: NA;

Additional Images:

The Official Video from today:

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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