Cup Spy: Alinghi Red Bull Racing hits cross-swell conditions

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Cup Spy: Alinghi Red Bull Racing hits cross-swell conditions – September 30

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz Sep 30 4:13 PM PDT
October 1, 2022

Alingi Red Bull Racing – Barcelona – September 30, 2022 © America’s Cup/Alex Carabi

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Alinghi Red Bull Racing continued to work its first-generation AC75 off Barcelona on Friday in erratic breezes and tricky seas.

The point of sailing was to fine-tune the systems, rather than having a full sailing session.

But the breeze was erratic in strength and direction – starting at 9 knots, but increasing to 14 knots in the afternoon, and when the decision was made to cut the session short the breeze had increased to 18-20 knots from the south with a swell – put at 1 -1.5 meters coming from the east, capped by a strong lapping.

As we are now in the month of the 2024 America’s Cup match, the weather conditions and their management by the AC75 are just as interesting as the performance of the Swiss team, which is the only team to leave the America’s 2024 Barcelona Cup Venue.

The Swiss team made two runs – the first on the port tack, close-hauled in a following swell from the east.

The second was on starboard tack, in the easterly swell which allowed more regular foiling. Between the two passages, a tack with foils was attempted, which did not succeed, which is hardly surprising in the state of the sea and given the level of experience of the crew in the navigation of the AC75s.

After the second heat the crew secured a J4 jib on deck, replacing the J2 used on both runs, and were apparently preparing to test the upper end of the wind range. But given their experience, the first day of sailing where they were caught in a maelstrom, obviously decided that discretion was better than velvet, and wisely cut the session short.

Teammate Nicolas Rolaz (23), the youngest member of the Swiss team, was a former Optimist World Champion, before moving to Laser/ILCA solo, he then joined Alinghi RBR in their “Power” team . “The plan today was just to fine tune and sail,” he said. At the moment we are not so focused on the conditions, we are trying to learn the boat as much as we can.”

It is unknown if the AC75’s flight controls operated primarily in automatic mode or if the AC75 operated manually. At this early stage of a test program, one would expect some degree of automation to be employed in the flight control function. The Swiss team also uses different wing foils on port and starboard – which makes comparison difficult, given that the sea state is markedly different from side to side -, port being the harder today.

The team is wearing a Team NZ style minimum lift/high speed wing foil on the starboard side – coming into play on the first port pass which would likely have made the sea state effect worse – a following easterly swell.

On the other side is an American Magic style foil, claimed as a minimum lift foil by the US team – but probably not as extreme as the Kiwi version.

The attitude of the New Zealand design team has been to design the fastest foil possible and leave it up to the sailors to figure out how to sail it.



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