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Cup Spy: Alinghi Red Bull Racing strike cross-swell conditions - Sept 30

by Richard Gladwell/ 1 Oct 00:13 BST 1 October 2022
Alingi Red Bull Racing - Barcelona - September 30, 2022 © America's Cup/Alex Carabi

Alinghi Red Bull Racing continued to work up their first generation AC75, off Barcelona on Friday, in an inconsistent breeze and tricky sea state.

The purpose of the sail was to refine systems, rather than have a full-one sailing session.

But the breeze was inconsistent in strength and direction - beginning at 9kts, but increasing to 14kts in the afternoon, and when the decision was made to curtail the session the breeze had increased to 18-20kts from the south with a swell - put at 1-1.5 metres coming in from the east, capped off with a strong wind chop.

As we are now in the month of the 2024 America's Cup Match, the weather conditions and how they are handled by the AC75, are as much of interest as the performance of the Swiss team, who are the only team sailing out of the 2024 America's Cup venue of Barcelona.

The Swiss team did two runs - the first on port tack, close reaching in a following swell from the east.

The second was on starboard tack, into the easterly swell which allowed more consistent foiling. Between the two runs a foiling tack was attempted, which did not come off- hardly surprising in the sea-state, and given the experience level of the crew in sailing AC75's.

After the second run the crew got a J4 jib on deck, replacing the J2 used on the two runs, and were apparently preparing to test the top end of the wind range. But given their experience, on the first sailing day when they were caught in a maelstrom, obviously decided that discretion was better than velour, and wisely curtailed the session.

Crew member Nicolas Rolaz (23) the youngest member of the Swiss squad, was a former Optimist World Champion, before moving to the Laser/ILCA singlehander, he then joining Alinghi RBR in their "Power" squad. "The plan today was just to do fine tuning, and get some sailing," he said. Right now we are not that focused on the conditions, we are trying to learn the boat, as much as we can."

It is not known if the AC75's flight control was being run primarily on automatic, or if the AC75 was being flown manually. As this early stage of a test program it would be expected that some degree of automation would be used in the flight control function. The Swiss team are also using different wing foils on port and starboard - which makes comparison difficult, given the sea state is markedly different on either tack - with port tack being the more difficult today.

The team is carrying a Team NZ style minimum lift/high speed wing foil on the starboard side - coming into play on the first run on port tack, which would probably have aggravated the effect of the seastate - a following easterly swell.

On the other tack, an American Magic style foil, claimed to also be a minimum lift foil by the US team - but probably not so extreme as the Kiwi version.

The attitude of the New Zealand design team has been to design the fastest possible foil, and leave it up to the sailors to work out how to sail with it.

Session Statistics - Barcelona September 30, 2022 - Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 Version 1

  • Wind Strength (PM): 14 knots Wind Angle: NW (AM) – S (PM)
  • Crane in: 0910 Dock Out: 1130
  • Dock In: 1615 Crane out: 1655
  • Total Tacks: 1 (Displacement)
  • Estimate TWA: 180 degrees
  • Sailing Time: 45 minutes at speed
  • Sails: M1- 1R with J2-1L (1 hour 25 mins). J4-1R Brought on deck at end of session but not used.

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