Alex Carabi / America's Cup

Alex Carabi / America's Cup

America's Cup, Swiss wave riders in Barcelona

Sport

30/03/2023 - 15:01
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If you want to find proof as to why the AC40 is the world’s most exciting new class of foiling monohull, look no further than the video of Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailing in swell on the America’s Cup racecourse on Tuesday. Sensational stuff from the young Swiss team who looked masterful in the 1m waveforms with occasional white-tops over a delicious 12-14 knots of late afternoon ‘Garbi’ south-south-westerly.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Q3BFLJ5Dco&t=15s 

Did we see Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin actually luff over the swell on foil upwind? It certainly looks so – old habits die hard but it appeared highly effective at keeping the foils in the water at a high ride height. And the variety of ride height, pitch and cant angles on display today shows a team high on the learning curve and even higher on confidence. What we also saw was perhaps an early indication of how pre-starts will be conducted in the upcoming regatta series with the first race just six months away now in Vilanova i la Geltrú in September.

Alex Carabi / America's Cup

Throughout the session, the Swiss AC40 could be seen practising the two-board down, low speed mode which gives the helmsmen options to tack or gybe quickly in the start box whilst keeping the boat at a consistent and measurable speed – vital for the final time-on-distance run into the line before the windward foil is hoisted and the speed shackles are unleashed.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s Chase Boat team had thrown in a leeward gate and a short windward mark for this late afternoon session and the sailors were absolutely revelling in the conditions. Layline calls, particularly at the leeward gate were perhaps hit and miss affairs judging by the recon footage but explained through the flight modes they were choosing – ride high and the AC40 has a tendency to want to sail higher to the wind whilst a slow low downwind tends to yield a more accurate layline. Getting that flight right was no easy task in the swell and more often than not, the Swiss went for double-board down roundings at the leeward gate. We’ve seen Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli practising the single board down/turn-up relentlessly as the kicker it gives post the buoy is immense – expect this to come into the Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC40 programme imminently.

Alex Carabi / America's Cup

Speaking afterwards, the vastly experienced double America’s Cup winner Yves Detrey gave a great insight into the day saying: “We are still in the process of trying out things and we're trying the ride height and pitch trim and also the cant angles. We play with all these parameters at the moment so that's why sometimes we are changing the behaviour of our boat on the water because we don't have all the answers yet.”

Looking at the day overall Yves commented: “It was a pretty good day…with a nice breeze, quite a bit of waves as well but yeah, we managed the sailing pretty well I think as a group, and I think it was one of our best days and we're pretty happy with it… obviously we are making plans every day. When we are out there, we need to sometimes reassess…we put marks in the water just because it makes us move around the racecourse and at the same time it will improve our manoeuvres and communications onboard, so I think I think it's the right way to do it…. we were trying to stick to the plan, but you know what we say: ‘you need a plan before you can change it’ so that's what we do every day basically.”

The ‘plan’ looks more than effective for Alinghi Red Bull Racing at the moment. Impressive sailing from a highly committed team that just look better and better on the water. More to come this week.

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