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Cup Spy Feb 14-15: Kiwis return after a nine day break for a five hour session

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 16 Feb 00:52 GMT 14 February 2024
Emirates Team New Zealand approaches Tiri lighthouse - AC40 - Day 64 - Auckland - February 15, 2024 © Sam Thom/America's Cup

Emirates Team NZ, the America's Cup Defenders emerged after a nine day break to sail in a seabreeze to die for.

What happened in the Cup - February 14-15, 2024:

  • INEOS Britannia - Sailed their two AC40s off Barcelona for the third successive day.. Several of the sailing team will head for Sydney mid-next week for the SailGP regatta.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing - continued their sail testing program off Jeddah, for the fourth successive day, sailing their two AC40's. Former ETNZ and American Magic AC helmsman Dean Barker once again joined the session as a co-helmsman.
  • Orient Express Racing Team - No report. The sailing team will head for Sydney mid-next week for the SailGP regatta.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand - Put in a session that lasted over 5hrs and clocked up 175km (95nm).
  • American Magic - Returned to two boat testing, after sailing just one boat a day on the two previous days.
  • Orient Express Racing Team - no report.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - No sailing reported by the AC37 Joint Recon program

Emirates Team New Zealand - LEQ12 - Day 64 - February 15, 2024 - Auckland

Day 64 for Emirates Team New Zealand in the LEQ12 out on the Gulf in Auckland, provided great sailing in a range of conditions. With light 3-8kt NE wind blowing for the start of the session, the team went with the M2 Main and J2 Jib.

The day started with very light winds and proved tricky to keep LEQ12 foiling, with touch down tacks happening as they sailed upwind. More than once the team relied on a tow up from Chase 1 to get back on the foils. Around 1100hrs, the wind started to increase, allowing the boat to sail more freely. However, the team still didn't manage to complete consistent foiling tacks. After a break for lunch, the team continued to sail upwind past Tiri towards the Coromandel.

At around 12:30hrs the team swapped from the J2 to the J3 as the wind had built to 12-14 knts from the NE. Sailing upwind from Tiri they went for a long beat towards the Coromandel peninsular. Spending time working on different upwind modes and completing many full foiling tacks. The sea state was increasing all the time, which resulted in different modes being required. The team seemed to be working hard to keep the boat very flat during this upwind rather than windward heeled.

Now a long way upwind, the team completed a bear away in building sea state and wind. Long downwind legs taken with much less manoeuvres completed compared with the upwind. Changing between flying high and low during the runs downwind. They had mostly clean gybes with good control and execution. One gybe in this first run ended in a complete touchdown, looking like they got too high on the foil into the turn, resulting in a crash.

The team inspected the STB Foil and Rig set-up during a drinks break; however, there was no concern. Then, they completed another upwind leg towards Coromandel Peninsular, working on longer tacks and changing modes while sailing along. It tested higher and lower flying heights and higher and lower angles to the wind. The boat was very locked in and looked good in the building sea state.

One more down wind leg into the harbour with some long legs again testing different heel angles and ride heights, in the now full wind against tide conditions.

[AC Recon team: Sam Thom and Andrew Burgess]

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

Session Statistics: Emirates Team New Zealand - LEQ12 - Day 64 - February 15, 2024 - Auckland

  • Weather: 26°C Sunny
  • Wind Strength: 3-12kts
  • Wind Direction: 065 degrees
  • Sea State: 0.7mtr
  • Crane In: 0927hrs Dock Out: 1000hrs
  • Dock In: 1535hrs Crane out: 1600hrs
  • Sailing time: 300 minutes
  • Sailing distance: 175.4km (95nm)
  • Total Tacks: 49 - Fully foiling: 42; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 5
  • Total Gybes: 21 - Fully foiling: 19; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 1

INEOS Britannia - AC40-2 and AC40-10 - Day 32 - February 13, 2024 - Barcelona

INEOS Team Britannia launched their two AC40s, Sienna(AC40-10) and Athena(AC40-2) in full one-design configuration, by 1115hrs. They had again been left with their masts up and out of the shed overnight. The team docked out at 12.35hrs, as planned.

One-design mainsails and J2s were hoisted on both boats while heading out of the port at 12:50.

A light but very stable southwesterly, combined with flat water conditions prevailed during the entire session.

Once out of the port, for the first hour, both boats speed tested performing two long upwinds and downwinds, sailing on both tacks and switching sides. The differences were minimal, negligible, with a slight extra for AC40-10 Sienna. On average, approximately three boat lengths in six miles.

At 14:20hrs both boats were back at the race course area, and did two upwind-downwind laps combined with some maneuvers to warm up, sailing independently one from another.

At the same time, the coaches set the course.

At 14:50hrs the first sequence of the day got under way in bottom end J2 conditions.

Sienna had the port entry, while Athena did it on starboard. When 25 seconds were remaining, after a double tack in the middle of the starting line, boat Athena seemed too close to the line with a lot of time to burn. Taking advantage that Sienna was not close to them, they did a hard bear away towards the left heading under the pin end lay line, and then tacked and started on port tack, crossing right behind B, heading towards the right side. Despite the last-second decision and the big risk taken, the movement paid-off and Athena was just ahead of B on the first cross. They continued to be just ahead on the second cross and rounded the top right mark in the lead with Athena just behind rounding the same gate.

Athena maintained the lead on the downwind and rounded the left gate (always looking upwind) in the lead, just 3 seconds ahead of A who followed. Sienna did an early tack, Athena covered, and then the race was abandoned.

Race 2 at 15:15hrs: Same entries, evened start, Athena right at the pin end, with Sienna to windward but slightly behind. Athena was ahead on the first cross and covered Sienna the entire upwind. After seven tacks Athena rounded the top mark in the lead with a nine-second gap. Nevertheless, there was a split at the top mark and Sienna was able to close the gap sailing on the opposite side of the run to Athena.

Just before the leeward gate, Sienna catching up from behind, was able to block Athena on starboard tack from the leeward side, and push Sienna further away than the port tack lay line of the left gate (looking upwind). After gybing past the lay line, Sienna came back on reaching course to round the gate in the lead, with Athena falling-off the foils on the gybe. Then the race was stopped.

Sequence 3 at 15:35hrs: Sienna had the starboard entry while Athena did it on port. A fell-off the foils when 1m:30secs was remaining to the start. From there on, Sienna put themselves in controlling position and pushed Athena to leeward of the pin end lay line. At the gun, Sienna started on time on the line, while Athena was on displacement mode heading into the wind to leeward of the pin. Then the race was abandoned.

Race 4: Same entries as the previous race. Due to a left shift Athena coming in on port could not cross ahead of Sienna on the initial cross. Consequently, Sienna controlled the pre-start from there on. Both boats started on port tack with Sienna to windward closer to the favored pin end of the line and Athena to leeward.

The race was abandoned immediately after the start.

Race 5 at 15:53hrs: Sienna had the port entry and Athena the starboard one. When 30 seconds were remaining, Sienna fell-off the foils. Athena started on time on the line close to the pin end. Then the race was abandoned.

Immediately after, there was a twenty-minute break in which both boats had their batteries replaced, reason why, it is not certain if B fell off the foils due to lack of energy on the boat, or not.

At 16:20hrs both boats went speed testing again for 30 minutes, both upwind and downwind on both tacks. As earlier on the day, differences were non-significant.

At 16:55hrs back at the race course a sixth sequence took place. Sienna had the port entry, while Athena did it on starboard tack. It was an evened start with Athena to windward of Sienna. A tacked first on a left shift and headed towards the right side of the course. Sienna continued towards the left. Athena crossed ahead and covered from there on. After seven tacks only half-way on the upwind, Athena remained ahead. Then the race was abandoned.

Sequence 7 at 17:15hrs: Sienna who had the starboard entry, was standing to leeward of Athena very very close when 25 seconds were remaining, in the middle of the line. Athena tacked and Sienna was able to tack at the same time and maintain the lateral gap in between the two boats so close that there was not enough room for A to perform a new complete tack into starboard.

Both boats sailed on port tack towards the starboard end of the line, Sienna tacked first and had a clear-ahead start of Athena, who also started slower. Quickly on the first third of the upwind there was already a fifteen boat lengths difference, and the race was stopped.

Sequence 8 at 17:20hrs: The most aggressive pre-start of the day saw Sienna entering on starboard and Athena on port. When one minute was remaining to the start, Sienna on controlling position to windward of Athena, was pushing them towards the pin end lay line. Athena tried tacking into port to scape, but Sienna had to clearly avoid the collision also tacking to leeward very close, not far from colliding. Both boats ended heading into the wind off the foils. Then the sequence was abandoned

One last race got started at 17:25hrs that continued towards the harbor. It turned out to be an evened start with Sienna to windward and Athena to leeward. Athena sailed faster on starboard tack towards the left that seemed to have stronger breeze and covered all the way from the first cross till the port, protecting the left side.

At 17:33hrs both boats entered the port and lowered their sails, docking at 17:58hrs. AC40(B) Sienna was the first of the two to be craned out of the water at 18:15hrs.

A very productive session for INEOS Team Britannia.

Sebastian Peri Brusa - Recon on INEOS Britannia

Crew: Athena - AC-10: Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott, Bleddyn Mon, Leigh McMillan. AC-2: Dylan Fletcher, Ben Cornish, Youth Squad member, Luke Parkinson

Session Statistics: INEOS Britannia - AC40-2 and AC40-10 - Day 32 - February 13, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Partly Sunny, 18 degrees.
  • Wind Strength 4.5kts - 9.5kts
  • Wind Direction: 190 degrees- 195 degrees
  • Sea State: 0.36mtr
  • Crane In: 1055hrs-1115|0654hrs Dock Out: 1235hrs
  • Dock In: 1758hrs Crane out: 1815|
  • Total Tacks: 49 - Fully foiling: 48; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 342- Fully foiling: 32; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 1

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 OD & LEQ12 - Day 77 - February 14, 2024 - Jeddah

Alinghi Red Bull Racing's AC40-4 (Red) and AC40-7 (Black) were both craned into the water by 09:30hrs.

Compressed nitrogen was carried onto both boats to top up accumulators. It was noted that this tank was then carried onto Chase Targa, to be kept handy on the water.

Following this, the hydraulics tech conducted short traveller tests on Black, as well as linked traveller to mast rotation tests on Red. Red was then taken off the dock for further testing.

Safety drills were also carried out, including a man-on-stretcher exercise. Full LE sail plans were prepared, with the same crew combination as the previous day.

The team docked out at 12:30hrs, with the M1-4 LE mainsail and J3-2 LE jib hoisted on the Red boat, and the M1-3 LE and J3-1 LE on Black.

The team started with a short upwind exercise, of split tacks followed by long side-by-side testing in parallel on starboard, with windward-leeward position switching.

A short stop was made to adjust sail settings before continuing on starboard, then tacking to sail another long stretch upwind on port. Further sail adjustments were made as the team stopped far offshore, where the wind was lighter.

For the next phase both boats struggled to take off, leading to a tow back towards land. Once reaching sufficient wind, the boats were tow started on starboard downwind, then gybed and sailed a long downwind in parallel on port, before returning to the course start.

Following a short lunch break, the team began pre-start practice. Start 1 & 2 saw Red enter on port, while Starts 3-5 saw Black enter on port. Start 5 continued into a one-lap race on the course set at 225 deg, and 1nm in length, which was won by Dean Barker and Max Bachelin on the Red boat.

Ahead of this next bracket, the Red boat exchanged the J3 jib for the J2-4 LE, while Black remained on the J3. Start 6 / Race 2 (1 lap) saw Black entering on port, with Red controlling the upwind from the start and extended the lead throughout the race. There was minimal difference in performance upwind between the two boats, however the J2 proved quicker downwind.

Ahead of the final practice race, the Black boat dropped the J3 in exchange for the J2-3 LE.

Start 7 / Race 3 (1 upwind leg) began with Black entering on port and starting on time, while Red was late and immediately tacked off to the right. Black led at the windward mark, continuing downwind, while Red came to a stop and subsequently dropped the sails, with wind decreasing and big grey clouds approaching. Black then continued back to Obhur Creek, as the sailing day was brought to an end.

The day concluded with both boats docked in by 16:10hrs after three and a half hours on the water and 130 minutes of sailing. 85 manoeuvres were observed of the Red boat, with a 95% fully foiling rate.

Crew:Co-Helms: Arnaud Psarofaghis, Maxime Bachelin, Nico Charbonnier, Dean Barker. Sail Trimmers/Flight controllers: Bryan Mettraux, Yves Detrey, Nico Rolaz, Jason Waterhouse.

Crew Roster: AC40-4 (Red) Starboard: Dean B + Jason W Port: Max B + Yves D AC40-7 (Black) Starboard: Arnaud P + Bryan M Port: Nico C + Nico R

Session Statistics: Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC40 OD & LEQ12 - Day 77 - February 14, 2024 - Jeddah

  • Weather: 31 degrees degrees. Cloudy
  • Wind Strength: 5-13kts
  • Wind Direction: 210 degrees-245 degrees
  • Sea State: 0.3-0.6mtr
  • Crane In: 0900|0930 Dock Out: 1230hrs
  • Dock In: 1610rs Crane out: 1630|1700hrs
  • Total Tacks: 56 Fully foiling: 53; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 29 Fully foiling: 28; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0

American Magic - AC40-8 - Day 83 - February 13, 2024 - Barcelona NYYC American Magic returned to two boat testing today after two days of sailing with just one boat.

The day began with light winds that started below five knots and peaked at around 10 knots in the afternoon. The two American AC40s - America and Magic were rolled out, rigged, and launched by 1015hrs ahead of an 1130hrs dock out.

Sails were hoisted outside the harbour entrance by 1205hrs: America MC 5 mainsail and J1.5 C2 headsail / Magic MC 4 mainsail and J1.5 C? (sic) headsail. After a wait for the southerly sea breeze to establish itself, the two boats were up and foiling by 1240hrs and headed off on a long close formation downwind run that saw the two boats each complete 18 foiling gybes, before the crews turned upwind for a long starboard tack session followed by a tack and a long port stint, before the boats turned downwind again for a long run with just one gybe before a stop at 1340hrs.

As well as a battery change, with the breeze now at 8-9 knots, the crews also switched headsails: America to the J2 C4 and Magic to the J2 C3. The boats set off again at 1402 for an hour and 10-minute session that saw them complete several gigantic windward / leeward loops with just one or two tacks upwind and typically just one gybe downwind.

On the upwind legs on port tack heading in towards the land it was noticeable that the leeward boat was on several occasions able to claw its way up to the windward boat without any apparent loss of speed. (see 04.48 highlights video and the interview with Terry Hutchinson, who explains it away as a local wind effect).

After a stop at 1510hrs, when the sailors were rotated between the boats, the crews were off again at 1530hrs for another hour-long session of multiple windward / leeward loops.

A brief stop at 1630hrs was followed by a final upwind multiple tack match race back to the harbour where the boats arrived at 1640hrs.

With a light air forecast, no sailing is planned for tomorrow - Thursday, February 15.

Report from Justin Chisholm - AC37 Joint Recon Team

Crew: America: Tom Slingsby and Lucas Calabrese / Paul Goodison and Harry Melges. America: Michael Menninger and Kyle Langford / Magic: Andrew Campbell and Riley Gibbs

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40-8 - Day 83 - February 13, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 15 degrees C
  • Wind Strength:
  • Wind Direction:
  • Sea State: Light chop
  • Crane In: 1015|0940hrs Dock Out: 1130hrs
  • Dock In: 1705hrs Crane out: 1845hrs
  • Total Tacks: 46 - Fully foiling: 44; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 1
  • Total Gybes: 26 - Fully foiling: 24; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 1

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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