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Cup Spy Jan 25: Brits claim that one of their One Design AC40s is faster than the other

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 26 Jan 20:45 GMT 26 January 2024
Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 - Day 73 - January 25, 2023 - Jeddah © Alex Carabi / America's Cup

Two America's Cup teams trained on the Mediterranean and Red Sea.

The British team sailed their two AC40's against each other, with only a custom design jib being the difference between the two boats. In the post session interview, skipper Ben Ainslie opined that one of the AC40 One Designs was faster than the other for reasons they had not been able to establish.

"We are seeing a difference between the boats, which is interesting from a one-design class perspective," he said after the sailing session.

"We're seeing that Boat B "Sienna" is just a click faster than Boat A "Athena". I guess we wish we had Boat B earlier in the year."

"We're trying to figure out what's causing that difference. So we're lining up the boats to make sure that everything's symmetric in terms of foil arm positions, rig and the systems on the boat, to see if there's any differences. It's important to figure out what's making that difference that will help us understand these boats in general."

Ainslie also intimated that the focus of the boat on boat competition in the AC40 One Designs was to develop a matchracing play book for the foiling monohulls, and some moves that are unique to the boat type.

What happened in the Cup - January 25, 2024:

  • Orient Express Racing Team - Began tow testing on Wednesday, at Barcelona rigged and unrigged, and testing flight control systems, but no sailing reported from a Recon team.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing - continued to sail their pair of AC40s off Jeddah, in fresh winds.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand - Did not sail.
  • American Magic - are on a six day break, having retired their test AC75, Patriot, on Tuesday.
  • INEOS Britannia - Brits sailed their two AC40s off Barcelona.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - no sailing reported by the Recon Teams.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

INEOS Britannia - AC-2 and AC-10 - Day 124 - January 25, 2024 - Barcelona

INEOS Britannia craned their two AC40s to the water, Sienna(b) and Athena(a), at 09.54hrs and 10.08hrs, respectively, on one-design foils' configuration. Both boats had been left out of the shed with their masts up overnight. The team docked out just after 12:00hrs, as planned.

At 12:10hrs one-design mainsails and J1s were hoisted while exiting the port. However, the wind intensity was not strong enough to start the training, which was the reason why the team was forced to wait for approximately one hour and a half just outside the harbor.

At 13:45hrs finally the southwesterly sea breeze kicked in, allowing the session to begin.

Both boats headed towards the racing area, were an upwind-downwind course was set.

Four one-lap upwind-downwind races were carried out in a marginal 5 to 8kts condition, with each boat executing three to four tacks and gybes per leg, respectively. The two boats alternated the starboard and port entries.

AC40(b) had a solid performance, starting ahead, rounding the top marks ahead, and winning the four races.

Race two was the closest one, in which both boats rounded the bottom gates almost at the same time. Race four was also close, with AC40(a) finishing less than 10 seconds behind.

After the fourth race at 15:15, the J1s were replaced by a one-design J2 onboard AC40(b) and by the new LEQ12_J2-4 on AC40(a). Ten minutes after, both boats started to speed test upwind.

One long upwind and downwind test were carried out, on both tacks, with both boats switching sides.

Differences were small, however, AC40(b) using the one-design J2 was slightly faster both upwind and downwind, with a greater margin on the downwind.

At 16:10hrs both jibs were lowered and then switched.

AC40(a) hoisted the one-design J2, while AC40(b) put the new LEQ12_J2-4. Probably to test and eliminate any possible human and boat bias.

On the upwinds AC40(b) continued to seem like having something extra. However, differences were smaller than before switching jibs. On the downwind and specially on port tack, AC40(a) with the one-design jib was slightly faster.

Just before entering the port, both boats headed back to the racecourse area and did one more start and race, possibly to test differences in performance in between both jibs while maneuvering during the pre-start. All these in bottom range J2 conditions.

At 17:20hrs AC40(b) entered the port and started to drop both sails. AC40(a) followed ten minutes after. By 17:50hrs both boats were on the dock, and at 18:00hrs AC40(b) was the first of the two boats to be craned out of the water indicating the end of the day.

Sebastian Peri Brusa - Recon on INEOS Britannia

Crew: AC-2 Athena: Dylan Fletcher, Ben Cornish, Leigh McMillan, Bleddyn Mon. AC-10 Sienna: Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott, Iain Jensen, Luke Parkinson.

Session Statistics: INEOS Britannia - AC-2 and AC-10 - Day 124 - January 25, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny, 21 degrees.
  • Wind Strength 4.7-7.2kts
  • Wind Direction: 200 degrees-220 degrees
  • Sea State: 0.25mtr Flat
  • Crane In: 0954/1008hrs Dock Out: 1204hrs
  • Dock In: 1740/1750hrs Crane out: 1800hrs
  • Total Tacks: 25 - Fully foiling: 23; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 1
  • Total Gybes: 26 - Fully foiling: 21; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 4

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 x 2 - Day 73 - January 25, 2024 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC40-7 (Black) and AC40-4 (Red) at 09:15hrs and 09:40hrs, with the focus of the day on sail testing and match racing. Both boats were in the water by 10:00hrs.

GoPros were fixed to wands at the top of the mast on the Red boat. Work was carried out at the mast base, this could have been a simple repair, but not certain. Further work was carried out on linked controls, with the electronics tech seen working on traveller movement and mast rotation.

The boats were prepared with LE mainsails and jibs, with the Red boat helmed by Nico Charbonnier and Maxime Bachelin, and the Black boat by Arnaud Psarofaghis and Jason Waterhouse. Dock out times were staggered at 12:00hrs for Black and 12:05hrs for Red. The Red boat hoisted the M1-1 LE sail, first time seen this trip, with notably less sail area, tapered in at the head. The J2-3 LE jib was hoisted next. The Black boat hoisted the M1-3 LE sail, seen previously this trip, as well as the J2-2 LE jib. Sea state conditions gradually developed from a relatively flat sea state to a mild chop.

Stint 1 (12:38hrs - 12:55hrs, 8-10.5kts 290 degrees @ 12:40hrs) Both boats started with independent sail testing, followed by sailing in parallel and split gybes.

Stint 2 (12:59hrs - 13:13hrs, 8-11.5kts 295 degrees @ 12:55hrs) The stint progressed with split tacks upwind, leading to competitive tacks towards the stationary windward chase boat. The boats then rounded to starboard and sailed downwind with split gybes, finishing with a competitive gybe battle to the course start.

Stint 3 (13:20hrs - 13:42hrs 9-14kts 300 degrees @ 13:25hrs) Three match racing starts were practiced, with the third start leading to a 1 lap race around the 1NM course, set at 320 degrees. All starts saw Red entering on port and Black on starboard. Black won the race, with Red touching down as they attempted a gybe round the leeward gate, flying too high on entry. Following this stint, Black dropped the J2 and hoisted the J3-1 LE.

Stint 4 (13:50hrs - 14:24hrs, 13-16.5kts 305 degrees @ 13:55hrs, 14-18kn 320 degrees @ 14:15) The following three starts (Start 4-6) saw Black enter on port. The third start continued to a 1 lap race (Race 1) around the course, which was led from start to finish by the Black boat. Following the stint, Red dropped the J2 and prepared the J3-2 LE, with techs below deck before hoisting the jib.

Stint 5 (14:45hrs - 15:33hrs, 13-17kts 325 degrees @ 14:50hrs, 11-15kts 320 degrees @ 15:10hrs) The Black boat sailed a few practice starts while Red resolved persisting issues, before joining at 15:10hrs. With wind increasing, two more starts (Start 7-8) were sailed with Black entering on port, Red on starboard. The second start continued into a 1 lap race (Race 2), which was won by Red who overtook upwind, leading from the windward mark to the finish. Following the race, a full crew swap was carried out between the two boats.

Stint 6 (15:45hrs - 16:11hrs, 11-14.5kts 320 degrees @ 15:45kts) As the wind conditions slightly eased, the teams warmed up independently in their new boats, with a short upwind/downwind ahead of racing. Two starts followed (Start 9-10), with the last start continuing on to a 1 lap race (Race 3), which was won from start to finish by the Red boat, after a close tacking battle to the windward mark.

Stint 7 (16:15hrs - 16:25hrs, 12-16.5kts 325 degrees @ 16:15hrs) The final stint of the day saw the team sail back to base, after mixing up the crew. Sails were dropped by 16:35hrs at the entrance of the Obhur Creek.

The day on the water concluded after nearly five hours of intensive training, with 170 minutes of sailing time. A total of 145 manoeuvres were observed of the Red boat, with a 94% fully foiling rate, marking the most manoeuvres observed in a day on the AC40s to date.

Crew:Sailing: (Red) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Maxime Bachelin, Nico Charbonnier, Jason Waterhouse Black: Bryan Mettraux Nico Rolaz, Lucien Crujean, Yves Detrey;

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 x 2 - Day 73 - January 25, 2024 - Jeddah

  • Weather:28 degrees. Overcast
  • Wind Strength 8-18kts
  • Wind Direction: 290 degrees - 325 degrees
  • Sea State: 0.8 - 1.3mtr
  • Crane In: 0935hr/1000hrs Dock Out: 1130hrs
  • Dock In: 1645hrs Crane out: 1705/1725hrs
  • Total Tacks: 79 - Fully foiling: 76; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 66 - Fully foiling: 60; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 3

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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