America's Cup, first full day of five teams foiling at once


09/08/2023 - 13:20

After the recent full-on conditions in Barcelona, this afternoon was a day for the analysts and the data gatherers to have their moment in the sun whilst for the sailors across all the teams it was a day of drills, exercises and the chance to try new things out.

NYYC American Magic opted to turn their AC40 ‘Magic’ back to pure one-design foils today whilst their previously declared LEQ12-AC40 ‘America’ was still featuring the modified starboard foil. The speed difference on port tack with the starboard anhedral immersed was marked but that didn’t deter the two boats having real ding-dong battles over a series of pre-starts that were brilliant to watch and caught on camera.

Tom Slingsby and Harry Melges took charge of Magic whilst Paul Goodison and Lucas Calabrese sailed ‘America’ and both boats were showing some real artistry in the starting box with the scoreline eventually being 2-1 over three race starts to ‘America’. Great to see the ‘S’ manoeuvres in the lead back to the line with the boats jostling for the lee position and it’s something that we can look forward to when we have six boats on a start-line in Vilanova i La Geltrú in a few weeks’ time.

Alex Carabi / America's Cup

After the racing ‘Magic’ returned to base, whilst ‘America’ stayed out as the wind built to gusts of 16-18 knots and the team went through a quite fascinating series of flight for about 45 minutes. The recon team said: “the boat seemed to be out of whack, and we saw many splashes until they stopped 16:02h. Sailing re-started 16:18h on port tack downwind and we saw the same difficulties on an unsettled America with many nose-dives, ventilations and two more scary porpoise cycles.” Tom Slingsby summed it up afterwards saying: “Our plan for today was to go out and do a couple of races, which we did with two boats, and then it was to go into some different system checks for one of our boats – our LEQ - and so we were just testing a few things. You might have seen us a bit unstable there at times, testing some different configurations and settings but yeah, it's all part of the learning process.”

Tom dug further into the foil profile in the interview saying: “It's no secret that our foils are faster so on port tack today our boat ‘America’ we were pretty fast compared to the one design foils…I think it's pretty obvious that the one design foils are very large, they’re designed to go through a range of conditions to run World Series events and our foils are smaller and so with that you get a little bit more instability and they’re just a little less forgiving when compared to the big one design foils…To win the Cup you're going to have to find that right balance of small foils which you can still manoeuvre on…we're just searching down that path at the moment.

Interesting days for American Magic who have been pushing super hard in recent boat-on-boat sessions to really find the limits of the AC40 and the custom foils they are running. No team has pushed harder in testing.

The big machinery was on the water this afternoon too with Emirates Team New Zealand buzzing around the American Magic sailing area near the Port Vell entrance whilst Alinghi Red Bull Racing were flying along the America’s Cup racecourse and further offshore in their AC75 further east.

Job Vermeulen / America's Cup

Both AC75s looked ultra-controlled today and concentrating on trim and technique with Michael Rasmussen, Mechatronics Engineer for Emirates Team New Zealand saying: “I think it was a pretty standard sort of a day for us with the same building breeze we’re seeing here in Barcelona…I think we saw all the other teams out on the water so that was quite cool to see the full sample but yeah from our point of view it was just another training day, good to get quite a light sea-way out there today.”

The Kiwis certainly looked very powerful today over their customary ‘laps’ that are presumably dialled into an onboard computer to give them a course with low skimming flight upwind and really accurate and consistent flight downwind. Plenty of leech adjustment going on up the mainsail with the trimmers pumping the mainsheet tension whilst keeping the traveller stationary and on the jib control there’s a lot going on with the 3D trimming with the team executing a bladed high mode upwind post tack and then dropping depth in as the speed built. Very impressive and they looked like they were having fun with the team on the Chase Boats acting as a leeward gate. Great day again for the Kiwis.

Out on a laid course and under the watchful eye of Dean Barker who was onboard today, Alinghi Red Bull Racing were noticeably flying higher both upwind and downwind and made ‘BoatZero’ look like a serious weapon. With high flight comes inevitable splash downs but these were few and far between and it was good to see the Swiss really taking their sailing of the AC75 to another level.

Never the easiest boat to sail, ‘BoatZero’ looked much better today. Yves Courvoisier, the team’s R&D Engineer, summed it up beautifully afterwards when he said: “For me there’s a ton to learn, I mean just first, the chance to be on the boat is really crazy you know you those boats are really crazy and I have to be honest today I really understood what it meant to be a professional sailor because they are super calm in situations where  everyone else would just shout out ‘what's happening!’”

And it looked very calm all around Alinghi Red Bull Racing who put in a really solid afternoon of testing after yesterday’s stop/start session dogged by breakdowns and systems issues. The team covered some 61 nautical miles with a flight time of 135 minutes and an 81% foil-to-foil success rate over 58 tacks and gybes. Impressive sailing from the young Swiss team fused with America’s Cup experience.

For INEOS Britannia it was a late dock-out at 3pm to allow the ‘Garbi’ thermal breeze to fill but once out on the water the test team of Ben Ainslie & Giles Scott with Bleddyn Mon and Luke Parkinson pushed through a whole raft of tests, executing slow bear-aways and harsh round-ups to foil test whilst upwind the range of modes the team were flying and the continual, and aggressive, playing of the main traveller were the take-aways from the day. Sailing in breeze that at times topped 18 knots, there were a few splash-downs and a couple of raggedy-edged gybes, but speeds were in the high 30’s downwind and they certainly didn’t lack pace or complete control upwind.


Speaking afterwards, Bleddyn Mon one of the key connections between the sailing and engineering teams gave a super interview and summed the day up saying: “I think it was a pretty efficient day for us out there today, obviously we left the dock kind of late this afternoon but that was intentional to make the most of the breeze that came in from the southwest so I think all-in-all happy with how the day went…today was significantly calmer in terms of the sea state than yesterday so we were able to actually get into certain testing items which was the main focus - couple of things on the mainsail and then a few things around the foils, a few tests we did there, but yeah a lot easier to do those tests on a day like today where the sea state wasn't quite so big.”

Talking about the more extreme moments in the day, Bleddyn was relaxed saying: “I mean we're getting used to sailing out here in Barcelona and yeah just kind of pushing the boat as hard as we can and pushing it towards the edge and occasionally, we're finding it but generally on the boat we were fairly calm, few stuffs today but nothing too major.” And talking specifically about his trimming role, Bleddyn commented: “So with the trim obviously we’re always looking for the breeze and moding the boat for that and again particularly when its wavey you've got a lot more on…we’re still try to find our modes I guess in these conditions, tuning our targets and they were sailing this boat compared to how we were in in Palma and yeah feeding back to the design team as they get on with designing the race boat.”

INEOS Britannia are on the Barcelona learning curve and there’s momentum building. T6 looks to be a very effective test platform for what the team are trying to achieve, and the sailors are at a very high level all round. It will be interesting to see what the coming weeks bring in terms of development.

Alex Carabi / America's Cup

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were caught on camera as they buzzed around the Alinghi Red Bull Racing session in their pure one-design AC40 and looked very assured in the brief glimpses we caught today. No recon as agreed with all the teams when just sailing the AC40 in OD mode.

Barcelona’s August afternoons are becoming something legendary at the moment. More to come this week from all the teams.

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