America's Cup: Milestone day for the AC75 Next Generation

America's Cup: Milestone day for the AC75 Next Generation

America's Cup: Milestone day for the AC75 Next Generation

Sport

20/04/2024 - 13:06
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The milestones are being recorded in this Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup with Alinghi Red Bull Racing becoming the first team to sail a new generation AC75 in the crystal waters of Barcelona. Over in Cagliari, with a solid mistral blowing, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli lifted on her foils briefly with her stunning silver hull shimmering in the Spring sunshine. Meanwhile, down in Auckland, Emirates Team New Zealand completed her sixth day on Taihoro sailing in near-perfect conditions.

For the Swiss, this was the crescendo, defining moment of the campaign to date. After the razzmatazz of the reveal, the coming-together at the boat launch on Tuesday and the first tow testing and sail fitting on Wednesday, Friday 19th was the designated day to go flying – and what a moment. Arnaud Psarofaghis described it beautifully saying: “We had a few system checks before we actually could do the proper sailing for the first time we say ‘Okay let's try and see if we can build speed’ - it came actually pretty quick, and we just saw the boat speed coming up and we say with Bryan (Mettraux) just give it a go and sheet on and the boat came out, so it was really impressive and I think we can learn even more to make it happen earlier, but today was a fantastic day... the first feeling was above expectation to be honest and we're looking forward to the next sailing days.”

A scruffy first gybe but very much foil-to-foil, albeit with tentative course corrections was the beginning of a great session where confidence in the platform built and the bear-aways saw Alinghi Red Bull Racing light the after-burners and take-off. Arnaud described the feeling onboard saying: “The first manoeuvre is always tricky, probably not the best gybe ever but I mean it was as we expected we did train a lot in the simulator as well, so the boat behaved pretty well so I think now the game is on.”

Almost four hours on the water with plenty of stops for technical checks, this was a solid commissioning day and the team are eyeing the weekend to push on harder and start to build resilience in the systems. Boat Captain Jack Taylor was dangled over the side by his ankles before the tow-in to save a drainage flap but other than that, the Swiss seemed happy with their day. Having spent long hours in the team simulator sailing the boat in the virtual world, Arnaud expressed the ease at which they adapted to BoatOne as they nickname it: “The two worlds matched up pretty nicely, we have the muscle memory of the team so to jump in on the boat is almost pretty easy for us so because we spent so many hours (in the simulator) but now it’s a real boat and we need to be gentle but try to push her even harder.” Great to see, the new Bull is up and running.

Over in Cagliari with a windy mistral breeze blowing into the Bay of Angels, the original plan for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli had just been to set the sails and check systems but the sailors simply couldn’t resist a little tug on the sheets to go flying for the first time. It was only a few minutes but the smiles after were real. The team are eyeing a better forecast on Saturday to start laying down some miles and getting the manoeuvres in on this highly technical but stunningly beautiful AC75.

Max Sirena was delighted with the day saying: “Today is actually day zero, finally we hoisted the sails, in reality the plan was only to hoist the sails and check the geometry but then once you're there you want to try to sheet in. I think it’s great, I think it's good to go out hoist the sails, get the jib sheet and mainsheet on and pop up on the foil. Unfortunately for day one it was a little bit too windy, so we decided to stop after a little bit of an upwind so I think it's quite emotional because it’s a new boat and it was looking pretty cool. I'm happy for the boys, I'm happy for the guys, the shore team, the designer and everyone involved in the process, I think is a pretty big boost for them and tomorrow morning hopefully we’re going to go out there in better condition and we're going to sheet on and do a few manoeuvres.”

Asked about the influence of the team’s bespoke LEQ12 into this new AC75, Max responded: “You can tell there is a lot of the LEQ in this boat and I think once we are put on the new foils it is going to be a game changer compared to these ‘dinosaurs’ (the foils) we're using at the moment, so I think if we are able to stick with our plan and we are able to tick off the boxes of everything we have on the list, we're going to arrive in Barcelona all ready to roll on, so I'm quite happy to be honest.”

Casting his eye over the other two launches, Max commented: “I think it's too early, everyone obviously is coming up with the different ideas, different plan, probably between the three of us touching the water, us and the Kiwis are probably more in the same ballpark. The Swiss took a little bit of a different route on the deck especially, I think our shape is not that different but you can tell they tried to do something different compared to the others...I think at the end, this is going to be the generation three of the boats so I am expecting to see a more even performance type of boat so I think little details they're going to make the difference, and obviously the sailing team.”

It's an early roll-out for the team on Saturday morning, in the hope of the mistral blowing itself out and leaving a pitch-perfect Bay of Angels for the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli first proper sail – that will be interesting.

Down in Auckland, it was all efficiency and smoothness again for Emirates Team New Zealand who completed their sixth day on ‘Taihoro’ and look already deep into the systems development and trim controls. The Kiwis have a relatively short time in Auckland before the boat is shipped to Barcelona so they are making the most of it whilst they can and today’s session was just shy of three hours in a building breeze. Perhaps the most interesting sailing is observed at the lower-end of the Beaufort scale where the fine trimming of the double-skinned mainsail can actually be seen with beautiful depth dropped in at will and then as target speed are hit and the power comes through, the flattening is immediate.

Taihoro looks to be a calm boat, easy to steer and highly responsive to pitch and mode. Today we saw windward heel being induced in the light – something we don’t see too often from the Kiwis, and the sailing angles were smooth, leaving the trimmers to do their work and keep flying. Impressive all round. Speaking afterwards, cyclor Cam Webster, a decorated rower and a great find in the power-delivery department described the day and what the new boat is like, saying: “The session was great today, it was a pretty shifty breeze, so we were just kind of on and off, it was definitely solid out there for the boys for the first group, we didn't manage to get the second group on but it was good...It's definitely different from the Watt Bike in the gym, you can't really compare it to anything you know it's a mixture of being thrown around like on a mountain bike and then sort of in a cage just smacking around in there, so it’s definitely novel and having a lot of fun doing it honestly.”

Back in Barcelona, NYYC American Magic closed out their week with another fine two-boat AC40 training session through the afternoon with the wind getting top-end for the boats by the conclusion.

Plenty of pre-start action and talking about the tactics into and out of the box, Michael Menninger, trimmer on ‘America’ gave his assessment saying: “We did three races today and the first and third races Magic were OCS and so a bit of a mistake on their part, in the second race we didn't do a great job just driving off the boundary and we got hooked and came off the foils and slow and so I mean yeah it's super critical where the two boats intersect off that boundary and if you get it right, it sets you up for the last starboard into the line and if you get it wrong you’re on the back foot and potentially in the water, which is worst case scenario.”

All eyes on the weekend now with Alinghi Red Bull Racing and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli both confirmed to be sailing and the launch/reveal of INEOS Britannia’s new AC75 could be as early as Saturday.

 

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