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Cup Spy Jan 26: French join the America's Cup fray - first test sail in Barcelona

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 29 Jan 04:50 GMT 26 January 2024
Orient Express Racing Team - AC40 - Day 22 - January 25, 2024 - Barcelona © Job Vermeulen / America's Cup

Two America's Cup teams trained on the Mediterranean, a third sailed out of Auckland. All three sailed in light winds. The Kiwis used the opportunity to test their light air water-start technique.

What happened in the Cup - January 26, 2024:

  • Orient Express Racing Team - Had first test sail in their AC40 converted to a LEQ12 test boat. With the breeze being light, the crew had some issues with tacks, gybes and takeoffs.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand - Sailed in light winds, the Recon crew felt the Kiwis were being very secretive about allowing the Recon team to gauge take-off speeds.
  • INEOS Britannia - Brits sailed their two AC40s off Barcelona, again their sail was marred by light winds. The Recon crew believed that INEOS had issues with the hydraulics controlling the mainsheet system.
  • American Magic - are still on a six day break, having retired their test AC75, Patriot, on Tuesday.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - no sailing reported by the Recon Team.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing - no report.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Orient Express Racing Team - AC40 - Day 1 - January 26, 2024 - Barcelona

The OE AC40 was lifted with the crane today at 09:50hrs and carefully placed in the water between the docks.

Some preparations and checks from the electronics and hydraulics flight systems were needed to be done before going out sailing, as today was the first day that the OE Team was going to sail the AC40 boat in manual mode.

The breeze came late today so the dock out was not done until 1300hrs. When we get out there still was no wind but luckily 10 min after a breeze of 3-4kts from 200º started blowing so the OE team decided to give a go with some towing take offs.

13:30hrs: On the first run it looked like something went wrong with the flight controls and the boat reacted with a lot of pitch angle in the bow for some seconds.

13:39hrs: On the next run all was smooth and they managed to make a long one in starboard side for some minutes. They tried sailing different course directions and also they performed some successful manoeuvres putting the windward foil in and out for a couple of times without changing the course direction (special mention here that today when this same test was attempted in portside it was not that successful like when done in starboard side). They tried to tack but the boat touched down and they need to tow again to get the boat take off.

14:02hrs: They went for port side with tow in mode take off. On the second attempt they managed to fly for a long run of around 8-10 min approx. As an observation I will say that the boat seemed to fly higher in starboard than in port tack in this first runs.

14:16hrs: It seemed that there is a bit more of wind and they tried to take off from starboard side with no success. They went for some tow in take off more with the chase boat and at certain point they were too far away from the shore and the breeze get lighter.

14:56hrs: A long tow in with the chase boat was done to the port area and a nice breeze of about 7-9 knots from 220 degrees was found, what it was perfect to sail without the need of the help of the chase boat for the take off. As soon as the boat was released from the towing rope, it started a downwind and performed five 5 jibes in a row: 4 were touching down but last one was quite successful.

15:17hrs: They started an upwind with long runs and four tacks were done: the two from starboard to port were 'touch down' but the ones from port to starboard side were surprisingly successful (remember is the first day for them in manual mode).

15:40hrs: They stopped to change jib J1 for jib J2.

15:55hrs: after changing the jib they went for a little bit of upwind and then after for a long downwind were they started to look confidents with the jibes as they managed to perform seven decent jibes and three touch down ones.

16:51hrs: Wind went down a little bit so they decided to stop and perform a change of jib from J2 to J1 again. I'm not sure if in this same stop they also changed the batteries for the hydraulic arm systems.

17:08hrs: They started sailing again in upwind. Even there was a pretty light breeze it was surprising how fast they managed to make the take off this time. In this upwind they performed seven tacks, this time only one of them was successful and the other six were done with touch down and taking off after some seconds.

17:35hrs: They went for the last downwind and performed eight jibes, from which four were fully foiling, two touch down and two touch and go.

17:46hrs: tow in back to port with the chase boat.

Crew: Quentin de la Pierre, Kevin Peponet, Matthieu Vandame, Jason Saunders

Session Statistics: Orient Express Racing Team - AC40 - Day 1 - January 26, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather:18 degrees. Sunny
  • Wind Strength 3-9kts
  • Wind Direction: 200 degrees-230
  • Sea State: Flat
  • Crane In: 0950hrs Dock Out: 1300hrs
  • Dock In: 1800hrs Crane out: 1820hrs
  • Total Tacks: 14 - Fully foiling: 3; Touch & Go: 6; Touch Down: 5
  • Total Gybes: 26 - Fully foiling: 10; Touch & Go: 6; Touch Down: 10

Emirates Team New Zealand - LEQ12 - Day 59 - January 26, 2024 - Auckland

Low end conditions with a light sea breeze from the North prevailed on Day 59 of LEQ 12 testing out on the Hauraki Gulf for Emirates Team New Zealand.

With the two new foils equipped, and the M2 main and J2 Jib hoisted, today's plan seemed to be finding and sailing in the lower end of the breeze spectrum.

The team hoisted sails off of Narrow Neck beach out in the channel between Rangitoto and the North Shore. The team then commenced sailing in a wind speed of no more than 9kts, we estimated between 7.5kts and 8.5kts with the nearest wind station registering a mere 8.2kts [S-W: this is well above the minimum wind speed for starting a race of 6.5kts].

In the past, we typically would have seen a tow take off in these conditions, however the new port foil proved to be more than capable of getting the yacht foiling.

Later in the session we saw impressive light wind low speed take offs on both foils. These foils proving today to be far more efficient in the light air than the previous foils from what we were seeing.

The team then sailed a long upwind towards Tiritiri Matangi, attempting many tacks in the light air. The conditions were marginal foiling even in a straight line all day, but the team managed to successfully complete 32 of 43 tacks as full foiling, four touch and go and seven full touch downs over the course of todays session.

Once up near Tiri, the team came off the foils due to lack of wind. A couple of tow attempts were tried on each tack with some glide stops maybe to test low end speed foiling capabilities. After these tests the team then long towed downwind for a kilometre or so until there was enough breeze to continue sailing downwind and so they cut the tow.

The team sailed a long down wind with a few turn ups on the way before eventually arriving back down near Rangitoto Light House for a couple of light air pre starts. Again impressive light air manoeuvres could be seen throughout the day, with 30 out of 31 gybes being dry foilers and only one touch down recorded all day.

Not much could be taken from the two pre starts, fairly standard manoeuvring and killing time at the boat end of the box, a little late speed/time kill on approach then starting near the boat.

After these starts the team slowly made their way again downwind before eventually heading back towards the base after what was a long session of sailing for ETNZ, nearly four hours in the LEQ 12. Typically we are used to sessions being around three hours.

It was definitely apparent the team were concentrating on finding the bottom end of these new foils in all aspects of the session today including take-offs, tacks, gybes, glides and even pre starts. Impressive light wind take off speeds. Loads of touch downs due to the extreme low end in which the team were practicing tacks and gybes The team were purposely disguising the take off speeds on every occasion in which we attempted to parallel the yacht.

One comment today even in the light air in straight line moding, we again did not see a lot of windward heel on these foils with piercing kept to a minimum.

With the flatter sea state, we did observe a little more bow down at times on the upwinds however.

As noted earlier, the low wind take-offs were one of the most impressive takeaways from today. Hopefully we can record an accurate take-off speed by paralleling the team over the next few sessions.

After today's session we were able to get in a few questions with Elise Beavis, ETNZ Performance Engineer. She gave us a run down on how the day went and a little on what was being tested out on the gulf.

Crew: Peter Burling, Nathan Outteridge, Andy Maloney, Blair Tuke

Session Statistics: Emirates Team New Zealand - LEQ12 - Day 59 - January 26, 2024 - Auckland

  • Weather: 24 degrees C Overcast
  • Wind Strength: 7.5-11kts
  • Wind Direction: 10 degrees
  • Sea State: 0.1mtr
  • Crane In: 1045hrs Dock Out: 1130hrs
  • Dock In: 1535hrs Crane out: 1605hrs
  • Total Tacks: 43 - Fully foiling: 32; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 7
  • Total Gybes: 31 - Fully foiling: 30; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 1

INEOS Britannia - AC-2 and AC-10 - Day 25 - January 26, 2024 - Barcelona

INEOS Team Britannia craned their two AC40s, Sienna(b) and Athena(a), into the water at 10.30hrs and 10.45hrs, respectively, in full one-design configuration. Both boats had been left out of the shed with their masts up overnight.

The team docked out at 13:30hrs, half an hour later than the original plan, due to lack of wind.

Once out of the port, it was clear that there was not enough wind for training. After waiting for ten minutes, the team decided to get the two boats on the tow and head towards the airport area.

Once there, at 14:20hrs one-design mainsails and J1s were hoisted on both boats, even though the southwesterly sea breeze still refused to fill in.

From 14:25hrs till 15:05hrs AC40(b) tried to sail in a poor and inconsistent breeze, struggling to stay on the foils and requiring assistance in many opportunities to be able to take-off. At the same time, AC40(a) remained next to its support chase boat, working on the traveller's hydraulic system that seemed to have an issue. It could be seen being moved all the way from one end to the opposite one; and extra support team members from another chase boat had to come along to provide extra assistance carrying tools.

From 15:05hrs till 15:30hrs both boats tried to sail, however, they could not continue to stand on the foils either after a tack or gybe. In addition, multiple towing take-offs were executed.

At 15:35hrs the team decided to tow back towards the racing area. Half-way there, both boats got released and did one more attempt to sail on starboard tack heading further offshore, without much success. Immediately after, they got on the tow again.

Once back at the racecourse area, both boats did one upwind speed test on starboard tack, just standing on the foils. Nothing clean could be achieved from that speed test as they were sailing with different winds.

At 16:30hrs both boats lowered their sails and then headed back to the base on the tow. By 16:55 they were on the dock, and at 17:20 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 25 - January 26, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny, 20 degrees
  • Wind Strength 4.0 - 4.5kts
  • Wind Direction: 190 degrees-215 degrees
  • Sea State: 0.25mtr
  • Crane In: 1030|1045hrs Dock Out:1330hrs
  • Dock In: 1655hrs Crane out: 1720hrs
  • Total Tacks: 4 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 4
  • Total Gybes: 6- Fully foiling: 1; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 3

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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