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Cup Spy May 25: Two teams dance the AC75 Tango in Barcelona

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 25 May 18:25 PDT 25 May 2024
Luna Rossa - AC75 - Day 15 - May 25, 2024 - Barcelona © Ivo Rovira / Americas Cup

Two AC75 teams lined up against each other, in the chaperoned way prescribed by the America's Cup Protocol. The sixth and final AC75 race boat was revealed by the French team Orient Express Racing.

What happened in the Cup - May 245, 2024:

  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli sailed for the second day off Barcelona in the occasional company of US Challenger American Magic, sailing in winds of 7-12kts and a left over seaway from the previous day.
  • Orient Express Racing Team: Yesterday the revealed their AC75 raceboat, outside their Barcelona base, we have the report from the AC37 Joint Recon Team in this issue. It is to a base design supplied by Emirates Team New Zealand, and has some obvious similarities to 'Taihoro'. A launch date has yet to be publicly advised.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing did not sail today.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand did not sail today. Emirates Team New Zealand's AC75 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 a five hour session sailing on a similar part of the Barcelona coastline. In the latter stages of the session they intersected courses with Luna Rossa, from what Cup Spy has been able to find on the video shot by the America's Cup Recon, there was no infringement of the rules covering such encounters, and each team and pundits will take away what they will.
  • INEOS Britannia did not sail as stated after Thursday's session and will not be back off Barcelona until Monday.

Commentary: Two try to tango in Barcelona

Today for the first time in Barcelona two of the AC75 teams lined up against each other in a rules limited way.

We didn't learn much. The teams may have learned more, and if so - weren't saying.

When AC37 Joint Recon team's Justin Busuttil asked American Magic's team boss Terry Hutchison as to his opinion "of one of the most exciting recon moments yet, along upwind downwind, crisscrossing with the Italians?"

Hutchinson quipped "I thought that was when Doug DeVos [a team principal], our new helmsmen was steering the boat. That was the most exciting part of the day!"

"It's nice to have the other teams out on the water," Hutchinson said on a more serious note. "Obviously, the the Italians are very well polished team. And so being in the same general vicinity with them was good. They have a very nice package. And you can see a lot of positive features inside of their setup.

"Working within the boundaries of what we're allowed to do, when the shift was their way, they went quite well. "I think what's exciting to see, as we saw on AC 36, is how, how all the design teams kind of get to a spot where a very complicated boat becomes very close racing."

Luna Rossa's co-helm, Jimmy Spithill's response was "I didn't see the Americans, were they out there?"

While the still images look all very exciting, with the zoom lens shortening up the margins between the boats, a search through the available recon video revealed little.

As has been the case for several America's Cups out of race competition between teams is banned for a number of reasons. Under the current Protocol boats are prohibited from sailing in a "co-ordinated manner" which is defined as:

  • sailing within 400 metres of each other in the same approximate heading for more than 20 seconds.
  • yachts rounding shared practice marks within 30 seconds of each other

Applying those rules the two AC75s could, and did, sail against each other for an extended period. As soon as they got heading on the same tack/gybe (there's not a lot of visible difference in the apparent wind driven AC75s), one tacked.

Then they sailed on opposite tacks for a time and then flipped back. At the time of the tack, when the 20second rule cut in, it took around 11 seconds to respond, and for the two AC75s to be heading in different directions again.

From a gain/loss perspective, it was like watching two AC75s in a race to an imaginary mark and each taking a course side and bouncing off the imaginary boundaries.

With that informal game plan in place it could be argued that any gain was a function of a favourable windshift or isolated increase in pressure. And then you don't know if teams are sandbagging, or sailing at less than their best.

Of course once they exit the magic 400 metres separation they can line up on the same tack and check out their competitor.

After June 22, when the AC37 Joint Recon program comes to an end, they will be able to move in with a team RIB and shadow the other teams as was done in Auckland and all the previous America's Cup venues, and get some hard performance that way.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - AC75 - Day 14 - May 24, 2024 - Barcelona

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli [LRPP] rolled out their AC75 at 11:20hrs and craned in at 11:55hrs with the updated wings fitted with cameras combined to overnight added white markings on bottom and top sides.

Some differences were detected analysing the upper weight bulb on both arm stocks, showing a slightly more slender one on port with a cleaner junction.

The team run through the usual dock checks before leaving the dock at 13:15hrs to hoist mainsail M1-7 with the jib J1.5-4.

The breeze was measured 7-9kts from 185° with approximately 0.55m swell from 150°, which decreased during the day developing in cross chop.

The first sailing session began at 13:47hrs with a self take off on starboard tack with recorded boat speed of 15-16.5kn and from 85°. In the first part of this session, the yacht sailed mostly straight-line upwind and downwind spending more time on starboard tack.

Then the team added some maneuvers practice, of which the majority was foil to foil while occasionally crossing tacks with AM before decellerating after 48 minutes foilborne.

The second session lasted another 33 minutes and unfolded quite similarly with mostly straightline sailing in the first part and maneuvers in the second part.

As the breeze was increasing to 9-11kts from 195° the team lowered the J1.5 jib to hoist the J2-7. When the yacht stopped sailing, crew rotations were arranged for port helm, port trimmer and both port pods cyclors.

In addition three batteries were seen being changed for the hydro systems after approximately 80 minutes foiling, two take offs and 28 maneuvers were executed. The third session began at 15:40hrs with additional straightline sailing before the chaseboats lined up to form a starting gate.

The virtual course was set to be 1.6nm long and Luna Rossa required four tacks to reach windward mark and three gybes for the downwind leg. After a quick break, the team proceeded with an additional two starting practice sessions followed by two legs each while chaseboat engaged within starting box and during laps.

Overall this was another solid day for the team which docked in at 18:00hrs with 168 minutes foilborne, while 43 tacks and 38 gybes were counted with 85% foil-to-foil rate [Michele Melis AC Recon].

[Report from [Michele Melis AC Recon]


Sailing: Francesco Bruni (port), Jimmy Spithill (stb)

Power: Bruno Rosetti(stb fwd) Enrico Voltolini(port fwd), Cesare Gabbia(port aft), Emanuele Liuzzi (stb aft) (no rotation)

Session Statistics: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - AC75 - Day 14 - May 24, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 22°C Part cloudy/Sunny
  • Wind Strength 6.5kts-11kts
  • Wind Direction: 185°-195°
  • Sea State: 0.5mtr-0.9mtrs from 140°
  • Crane In: 1155hrs Dock Out: 1325hrs
  • Dock In: 1800hrs Crane out: 1845hrs
  • Takeoff Data: Boatspeed 14-16kts - on both tacks; Angle not supplied, Windspeed Not stated
  • Total Tacks: 12 - Fully foiling: 10; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 9 - Fully foiling: 7; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 0

Orient Express - AC75 - Day 0 - May 25, 2024 - Barcelona

Orient Express Racing Team revealed their new AC75 race boat for the first time today for a mast stepping day that began with an 0630hrs rollout.

First sight of the hull as it was eased from the shed revealed the French boat to be very much a sister ship to the Kiwi's latest generation AC75 'Taihoro'.

Liveried in royal blue and with a stylish thin gold stripe weaving its way from the bow to the stern, the new French boat sported white logo-ed foil arms with all black foil stocks and blades.

Perhaps because of the single colour finish, it was hard to see if the bow included the slight step near the waterline which is so noticeable on the Kiwi boat – although comments from the team suggested that it does.

Our 90-degree starboard side view did not give much indication of the stern profile.

The port foil stock, and wing were confirmed by the team as being legacy components from ETNZ. An elliptical wing with turned up tips was mounted aft of a long large-form-factor bulb.

As well as a narrower foil stock, an all-new elliptical foil on the starboard side (with turned up tips) was mounted aft on a short, small form-factor bulb with very little protrusion forward of the foil stock.

As seen previously on the Kiwi AC75 the French boat has a pronounced full length bustle that appeared to match its New Zealand sistership.

Although impossible to observe from the ground, we were told the deck is painted all white for the purpose of heat reflection from the Mediterranean summer sun.

After rolling out at 0630hrs the mast was craned upright at 0734hrs and lowered onto the boat at 0745hrs with the rigging attached using pronounced rake by 0815hrs.

A member of the shore crew was sent up the mast at 0842hrs and spent 20 minutes working on/checking over the stay termination points at the top of the mast.

At 0910hrs another person was sent up the mast and spent five minutes working on the outer ends of the spreaders before the shrouds and forestay were disconnected and the mast was lifted off the boat at 0930hrs.

The mast was laid horizontal in its supports by 0945hrs and the shore crew spent 20 minutes working on it – reportedly changing out a shroud loop.

The mast was back in the crane by 1015 and relocated on the boat by 1030hrs.

Several hours of testing and calibration followed before the mast was removed at 1323hrs and laid flat at 1335, with it and the boat being rolled back in their respective hangars by 1400hrs

[Justin Chisholm AC 37 Joint Recon]

Session Statistics: Orient Express - AC75 - Day 0 - May 25, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 21-22° Mostly sunny

American Magic - AC75 - Day 12 - May 25, 2024 - Barcelona

American Magic rolled out their AC75 raceboat Patriot at 09:00hrs, again with a new spray rail arrangement on both foils, and the same half cover on the port forward cyclor pod. The yacht was craned in at 09:20hrs and standard checks were performed by the tech crew. The team docked out at 11:00hrs, and hoisted the MN1-1 mainsail and J1-1 jib under the breakwater, before setting sail at 11:30hrs.

The team began drilling manoeuvres in the light wind, which peaked at 10kts at the south end of the sailing area, and as low as 6kts downwind at the north end by the Forum. An easterly residual swell from the previous day was present, but reduced slowly as the day progressed. The J1 was exchanged with the J2-1 after two stints as the wind increased slightly, ahead of race course practice, with all pre-start entries on port. The 1.75nm course was set at 180°, with Start 1 continuing into (Race 1) two laps of the course. The yacht looked marginally OCS on Start 2, as the race was abandoned half way up the first leg, with the team transitioning into bear-away and round up practice. These manoeuvres were performed in relatively quick succession, and repeated on both tacks. This was followed by a full cyclor rotation and battery change.

Start 3 / Race 2 saw three legs of the course sailed, as the team abandoned the final downwind leg and aimed for the Italians. Both boats then sailed a long upwind/downwind in the vicinity of each other, crossing on many occasions. Initially the lead went back and forth as the shifts were played, but American Magic pulled ahead toward the latter part of the upwind. The Italians bore away first, but still crossed behind the Americans at the first downwind cross, and maintained the gap for the remainder, albeit a fairly short distance apart.

Both boats split from each other after sailing 3.5nm downwind, as the Americans returned to their race course. Start 4 was not the team’s best start of the day as they touched down before the final approach to the start, crossing the line a few seconds late once returning to foil. A full two laps were sailed, before the team came to a stop, as Tom Slingsby to handed the starboard helm over to Doug DeVos. The sailing session ended under the breakwater, as the J4-1 was hoisted for checks following the repair to the headboard.

American Magic docked in at 16:20hrs after just over five hours on the water, and 163 minutes of active sailing. 106 manoeuvres were performed, the most of any day for Patriot so far, with a fully foiling rate of 78%, and overall fairly equal performance between tacks and gybes taking into account touch and go manoeuvres.

The Race Log including average VMGs per leg can be seen in the comments below. No marks on the course were reset at any point during the day.

[Justin Busuttil - AC Recon]


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

Power: Carlton Hall, Madison Molitor, Tim Hornsby, Ashton Lambie, Austin Regier

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC75 - Day 12 - May 25, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 21 degrees Part cloudy
  • Wind Strength: 9-12kts
  • Wind Direction: 180°-195°
  • Sea State: 0.4-0.8mtrs from SE
  • Crane In: 0920hrs Dock Out: 1100hrs
  • Dock In: 1620hrs Crane out: 1720hrs
  • Takeoff Angle TWA: 75°-85° Boatspeed: 18-20kts
  • Total Tacks: 55; Fully Foiling: 44; Touch & Go: 7; Touch Down: 4;
  • Total Gybes: 13; Fully Foiling: 39; Touch & Go: 11; Touch Down: 1;

The Official Video of the Day:

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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