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Cup Spy Sept 26: Kiwis back in AC75 as Cup Defence comes into sharper focus

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 27 Sep 12:49 BST 27 September 2023
Emirates Team New Zealand - AC75 - Day 38 - Barcelona - September 26, 2023 © Job Vermeulen / America's Cup

Three teams sailed on Tuesday - Emirates Team New Zealand and American Magic from Barcelona, while Luna Rossa continued sailing off Cagliari, in their LEQ12 test boat.

Emirates Team NZ sailed their AC75 for the first time in over a month, with co-helmsman Nathan Outteridge saying after the session that the Kiwis had shifted their focus to understanding the nuances of the venue, given that the 12 month window for the Defence of the America's Cup starts in two weeks.

What happened in the Cup - September 26, 2023:

  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - sailed off Cagliari in a 8-12kt breeze in their LEQ12. They sailed a morning session in a breeze which increased to 16kts and then died away in the early afternoon. It appeared to be a good session with some issues being noted around jib sheeting that seemed to have no effect on the sailing session.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand - sailed in their AC75 in Barcelona for the first time in over a month. They sailed in winds of 4-8.5kts and recorded some remarkable dry/tack gybe statistics for the marginal foiling conditions. ETNZ are still sailing on their same wing foils in their original declaration of March 22, 2023 in Auckland.
  • American Magic - sailed their AC45 in development mode (LEQ12). Like ETNZ they also had light winds off Barcelona, but docked out three hours after the Kiwis. According to now casting at Olimpic Port they should have enjoyed a much better breeze (10-12.5kts) than the AC37 Joint Recon Team recorded (3-8kts) and seem to have encountered a fading breeze which limited the effectiveness of their session. Their tack/gybe statistics were horrible 46% dry foiling percentage.
  • INEOS Britannia - sailed their AC40 One Design - no report from their Recon team.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing - no report from their Recon team.
  • Orient Express Racing Team - no report from their Recon team.


After the Emirates Team New Zealand session, international yachting journalist Justin Chisholm who is part of the AC37 Recon Team assigned to monitor the British America's Cup team, spoke with ETNZ's co-helmsman Nathan Outteridge.

The Kiwis have sailed three different AC classes over the past few weeks and have been out of the AC75 for over a month.

"There was a bit of rust out there today," Outteridge conceded. "We've sailed three different boats in the space of just over a week. It was very nice to be back on the [AC] 75 and get back into the swing of things. We're coming into the end of summer - you can see the weather has started to change a bit, too. It was good to get out there and see how the weather behaves towards the end of summer," he added.

The breeze started light, and then filled in. Initially, the Kiwis opted for some self-launched foiling practice with winds below the minimum speed for racing.

"We seem to have done a lot of sailing in that 5-7 knot range over the last couple of weeks, " Outteridge noted. "The 75 behaves a bit differently to the 40 in the light air. We could have easily done a few tow-ups early on, but we wanted to work on our skills and try and see what we learned in the 40, and how much it translates back to the 75."

"Eventually, the wind got up over the 7kt range, and we were able to take off just fine and get sailing around."

"It was good to have the whole team back sailing again. Because when you go into the 40 mode, the whole cycling team kind of twiddle their thumbs a little bit. I think they enjoyed being back out on the water with us again today."

Self-starting in light winds is required in the AC75 foiling monohulls now used in the Cup. It can make the difference between winning and losing a race - and probably the Cup. Like Auckland, sailing ability in marginal conditions will be more important than in winds at the top end of the range.

"What's the conversation like on board between everybody when you're just trying to coax the boat out of the water in that 6-7kts winds?" Chisholm asked.

"There's a big role division," Outteridge replied. "When it comes to trying to get the takeoff to happen, you've got to generate as much power as you can out of the sails.

"So those trimming the sails are always trying to strive for the most power they can get out of the main and the jib. The flight controllers are trying to keep the boat as flat as possible. And then there's a moment where you think you're at your boat speed for takeoff.

"That's when you squeeze everything on harder and generate more lift from the foils. If you can push it up into the air, you're away.

"But if you're not patient enough, and you go too early, then the speed starts to drop.

"So it's a collective effort. And there are moments when the cycling team must also push out.

"When you want to pull stuff on quickly, the cycling team are the ones who actually pull it on.

"What were the goals when you left the dock this morning?" Chisholm asked.

"It was mostly just a shakedown day, to be honest, because we hadn't sailed the boat for a month. It was just checking that we remembered how to sail the boat and, on the system side, that everything was behaving as a standard.

"So we broke the day up into four, shorter sessions where initially it was quite soft, as you saw. So it was about takeoff and just trying to sail at whatever angle to get the boat going and then slowly moving into some laps, tacks and gybes and just reminding ourselves of our roles.

"And then, eventually, we set up a virtual course and just did a few laps in close to the beach. It's also pretty important for us to focus on the venue development at the moment because we are coming into the time of year when we're going to be doing the America's Cup."

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Emirates Team New Zealand - Day 38 - September 26, 2023 - Barcelona

Emirates Team New Zealand sailed their AC75 B2 for the first time in a month today clocking up an almost four-hour session this afternoon in light winds and on flat seas.

B2 rolled out on time at 1200 with rig setup complete by 1232 and launching take place at 1237. B2 left the harbour at 1358 with the M1-3 mainsail hoisted with the J1-6 headsail going up minutes later. With the southerly wind only touching 5 knots at this stage the team opted for a bow tow at 1408 which produced two brief two-minute flights.

After 30 minutes of unsuccessfully trying to self take off (the boat did break free of the surface for a few seconds once) a third tow up triggered a 20 minute foiling session with multiple tacks and gybes.

Once foiling the boat looked comfortable in the air and foiled through the vast majority of the maneuvers.

A stop at 1523 saw the J1-6 swapped for the J2-6. This and a fractional increase in the wind (6-7 knots) saw the New Zealand AC75 taking off easily on the flat seas.

A 20-minute and a 30 minute foiling session followed with multiple maneuvers before the team rounded off the day with six or so laps of a virtual course.

Time was called at 1725 with sails down by 1735 and dock in at 1800. Another day of AC75 sailing is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday September 27).

Crew: Peter Burling (Starboard), Nathan Outteridge (Port), Alex Maloney (Starboard), Blair Tuke (Port).

Session Statistics: Emirates Team New Zealand - Day 38 - September 26, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 24 degreesC
  • Wind Strength 4-8.5kts
  • Wind Direction:180 degrees
  • Sea State: Flat
  • Crane In: 1105hrs Dock Out: 1237hrs
  • Dock In: 1535hrs Crane out: 1610hrs
  • Total Tacks: 31 - Fully foiling: 30; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 34 - Fully foiling: 32; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 0

American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 - Day 67 - September 26, 2023 - Barcelona

American Magic rolled out their AC40 "America" from the shed at 10.20hrs. The boat was craned to the water at 10:55hrs and the team docked out at 14.00hrs, after a one-hour delay, possibly due to lack of wind. The CMN1 main was hoisted inside the port and the boat was towed out further to the North than the race-course area, looking for some extra wind intensity.

At 14:45hrs once in front of the Port of Badalona the tow stopped, and the J1 was hoisted.

To begin with, four take-offs on each tack and some gybes were practiced in the lower range wind speed. Immediately after, the team started to sail more on a straight line focusing of sailing on targets speeds and angles.

Half an hour later, at 15:07hrs the wind got stronger and the team made their first front sail change of the day, hoisting a J2 with a window.

It called my attention how opened the corridor in between the Jib and the main remained during most of the day, being the jib track positioned pretty low. Refer to sail trimming pictures for more details.

When talking about maneuvers, today there was a noticeable large number of non-fully foiling tacks and gybes, with many of them touching down completely. Using these foil wings and flaps the team struggles a lot to be able to perform maneuvers flying consistently in a stable way; and it seems like they have a much smaller margin for mistakes/errors being less reliable.

In reaction, they adapt their sailing in different ways to try to succeed on the maneuvers, for example, lowering the windward arm much earlier than what they would do with a one-design foil wing and flap, when heading into a gybe, for example.

Nevertheless, tacking from starboard into port was almost never successful, landing completely on almost all tacks.

In addition, there were many times while sailing downwind in which they had to lower the windward arm to re-gain stabilization, especially on port tack. Once stable, they lifted it again.

At 16:07hrs the J2 with window was replaced for another J2 with no window, and some more maneuvers were executed.

America was sailed back to the port, where sails were lowered at 18:12hrs, the boat was back in the dock at 18:18hrs, craned out at 18:45hrs and back in the shed at 19:20hrs.

Sebastian Peri Brusa - Recon on NYYC AM

Crew: America: Paul Goodison (Stb), Lucas Calabrese (Port), Riley Gibbs (Stb) / Michael Menninger (Port) / Andrew Campbell

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40 LEQ12 - Day 67 - September 26, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 21 degrees C
  • Wind Strength: 3-8kts
  • Wind Direction: 205 degrees
  • Sea State: Flat
  • Crane In: 1055hrs Dock Out: 1400hrs
  • Dock In: 1818hrs Crane out: 1845hrs
  • Total Tacks: 47 - Fully foiling: 21; Touch & Go: 11; Touch Down: 15
  • Total Gybes: 24 - Fully foiling: 10; Touch & Go: 6; Touch Down: 8

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Day 88 - September 26, 2023 - Barcelona

The Italian team LRPP opted for an early start rolling out their LEQ12 prototype at 7:30, quickly stepped mast and cables before craning in by 7:40.

After the usual dock checks, the team docked out at 8:30 as the offshore Maestrale pressure was up and measuring 12-14kn from 315 TWA at first. The main M1-2 was hoisted by 8:40 followed by the J2-1. The LEQ12 was boarded by 6 crew, 3 trimmers and 3 helms swapping during the entire session, and quickly up foilborne after a self take off with the usual crews crossing once gained some boat speed.

During the first two short foiling stints, the LEQ12 performed several Touch & Go maneuvers and started heading offshore where, after trimming back up on two boards, the yacht came to a stop.

Here the pressure was measured at 14-16kts which some significant wind chop; the J2-1 was lowered to hoist the J4-1.

Several shore crew members jumped on board gathering around the sailors having a look at the sheeting systems and below deck. The second foiling stint lasted 45 minutes and the LEQ12 was certainly set for longer straightline runs both up and downwind. As the pressure seemed to be decreasing, the J4 was lowered to rehoist the J2 for another 45minutes long foiling stint with some additional straight line sailing.

During these runs, crew members were observed walking on deck checking out the foot and sheeting systems of both sails.

The foiling stint ended closer to shore with some freestyle maneuvers such as Chicago, early gybes, tack-bear away as the offshore breeze was decreasing further to approx 7-9 kts.

Three foiling stints followed in the last hour of sailing in which the team seemed to focus on foil-to-foil maneuvers in light airs. The day was called after a total of 31 tacks,27 gybes, and 162 total minutes foiling time [Michele Melis AC Recon].

Crew: Marco Gradoni, Checco Bruni, Ruggero Tita, Vittorio Bissaro, Andrea Tesei, Umberto Molineris

Session Statistics: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Day 88 - September 26, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 27 degreesC
  • Wind Strength 8-12kts
  • Wind Direction:315 degrees - 320 degrees
  • Sea State: Chop
  • Crane In: 0745hrs Dock Out: 0830hrs
  • Dock In: 1250hrs Crane out: 1430hrs
  • Total Tacks: 31 - Fully foiling: 20; Touch & Go: 7; Touch Down: 4
  • Total Gybes: 27 - Fully foiling: 21; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 3

Weather conditions at Barcelona September 26, 2023:

The wind pattern at Port Olimpic in the 48hr and 24hrs view show that the breeze as substantially stronger today than yesterday.

Unusually there was a flatter sea state on both days.

These nowcasts should also be read against the sailing time for the two teams reported at 1400hrs to 1800hrs for American Magic and 1100hrs to 1530hrs for Emirates Team New Zealand.

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, 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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