What's happening in the America's Cup
What's happening in the America's Cup
The announcement of the first pre-regatta to be held in the beautiful Catalan seaside port of Vilanova i la Geltrú from the 14th-17th September 2023 was the month’s big news from an organisational standpoint and certainly sharpened the minds and training regimes of all the America’s Cup teams. Sailing will be aboard the team’s AC40s in strict one-design mode and will offer visiting spectators and a global streaming audience a first glimpse of the teams going head-to-head in competition. Shoreside, Vilanova i la Geltrú is getting ready to welcome the America’s Cup world with ample viewing opportunities afforded across the waterfront with the racing taking place just metres off the port entrance. It promises to be a superb event and the first regatta on the journey to the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona in September and October 2024.
Emirates Team New Zealand
‘Te Rehutai’ the America’s Cup winning boat of 2021 was dusted off, re-vamped and re-launched in March with a host of upgrades aligned to the new rules governing the 37th America’s Cup. Four aero cyclor pods towards the stern, no backstays, and reconfigured crew positioning with the helm and trimmers forward were the obvious changes visible to the naked eye but a big reduction in overall weight and the very latest thinking on sail control particularly via the mainsail battening at the head transformed ‘Te Rehutai’s’ sailing profile. Nathan Outteridge got his first taste of steering the ‘big boat’ with Pete Burling in the opposite pod and early sessions saw the Kiwis hit unconfirmed speeds into the 50-knot barrier in Auckland. The Defenders of the America’s Cup are sailing well with Ray Davies leading the sessions and pushing hard before the team de-camps to Barcelona for the European summer.
An incredibly busy month for the Challenger of Record with the re-launch of the British team’s highly advanced and much upgraded LEQ12 prototype ‘T6’ dominating the headlines and featuring a W-foil concept on a shorter starboard arm. This is a design direction that INEOS Britannia pursued ahead of the 2021 America’s Cup but ultimately didn’t feature on the raceboat for the Challenger Selection Series. Trial sessions through late March were all angled towards data gathering as the team evaluates this innovative design plus a host of new set-up features and unseen technology below decks on T6. On the sailor front, Dylan Fletcher-Scott, Olympic Gold medallist in the 49er class and the current International Moth World Champion, successfully passed his trial and was brought into the impressive helming team of Sir Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott and Ben Cornish. Training has continued for the Power Group on daily cycling sessions with the INEOS Grenadier cycling team in Mallorca.
NYYC American Magic
The pace quickened at the team’s winter training base in Pensacola with the arrival and launch of the team’s first AC40. Their second boat will be delivered straight to Barcelona for the summer training programme. Clare Harrington, Rear Commodore of the New York Yacht Club christened the new yacht ‘America’ in homage to the yacht that started everything back in 1851 and the sailing team wasted no time in getting to grips with, and finding ,the limits of the world’s most exciting new foiling class. Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison have formed an impressive helming partnership, displaying technique sailing of the highest order – windward heel, bow down is their signature trim – drawing on their experience as past International Moth world champions. With the one-design commissioning completed in short order, American Magic took their AC40 into the realms of an LEQ12 test platform unveiling a new mainsail, several new jibs, and declaring a new starboard foil design in a chrome finish. Testing and evaluating on long runs has continued since and records for manoeuvres have tumbled day after day in March. American Magic look strong.
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli
High intensity winter training continued through March for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli with some new faces getting time on the water. Francesco Bruni and Jimmy Spithill are being pushed hard for the helming slots with Marco Gradoni and Ruggero Tita, the future stars of the America’s Cup, pushing hard. Guido Gallinaro, part of the Youth team for the Italians, also got time aboard their beautiful LEQ12. The big story of the month for the Italians was the switch over of the team’s foils to complete a productive A/B testing process to calibrate and validate the data gathered previously with much focus being placed on long flight initially in a variety of conditions. Towards the end of the March sessions, we saw the team intensely practising pre-start manoeuvres, innovative single-board round-ups, low speed double-board run-ins to the line and some incredible bear-aways at the top marks. The LEQ12 went back into the shed for 10 days of maintenance and upgrades towards the end of the month. What comes next is the big question. Top team at the top of their game.
Alinghi Red Bull Racing
A very busy month for the Swiss who brought their AC75 ‘BoatZero’ out of the shed after an extensive refit period and revealed an eight-man set-up with four cyclors positioned toward the centreline and a highly logical helming/trimmer pod set-up to improve communication. Early sessions showed improved flight, faster take-offs, slick manoeuvres and all around the Alinghi Red Bull Racing team there’s an air of confidence. The sailing team are looking settled with Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier and Maxime Bachelin sharing helming duties and clicking well whilst Sailing Team Advisors Pietro Sibello and Dean Barker have been invaluable as the intensity on the water noticeably ramps up. A structural issue on the rudder curtailed AC75 sailing on the 23rd March but the Swiss were back on the water in their AC40 soon after, and rounded out the month with some highly impressive training, pushing hard over short-courses in a variety of Barcelona wind and swell conditions. This is a team high on the learning curve and pushing harder and harder. Dark horses for AC37? Watch this space.
Orient Express Team
The French team have been busy in March from an operational side with the team finalising their Barcelona base design ahead of activation in July. The team will receive their first AC40 in August and Stephan Kandler, Managing Director of Orient Express Racing Team, gave an indication of the team’s immediate future saying: “We will begin a new chapter in July when our base becomes operational and in August, we look forward to sailing our new AC40 on waters that are well-known to the team. We plan to make the most of every available sailing day to ensure that Quentin Delapierre and his team master the boat ahead of the first preliminary regatta in Vilanova, less than a month later.” In March, the team launched their new, beautiful branding and logo whilst also announcing their Youth & Women’s America’s Cup pre-selection squad. Busy times ahead for this talented team.