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

Cup Spy: Alinghi Red Bull Racing meets cross-swell conditions – 30 Sept

by Richard Gladwell/ 30 Sep 23:13 UTC
October 1, 2022

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

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Alinghi Red Bull Racing continued to work on the first generation AC75 on Friday ahead of Barcelona in a choppy breeze and rough seas.

The purpose of the sail was to refine systems rather than have a full sailing session.

But the breeze was fickle in strength and direction – it started at 9 knots but rose to 14 knots by the afternoon and by the time the decision was made to shorten the session the breeze had increased to 18-20 knots from the south with a swell increased – set at 1-1.5 meters coming from the east, finished with a strong wind swipe.

Now that we are in the month of the 2024 America’s Cup game, the weather conditions and how they are being handled by the AC75 are of interest, as is the performance of the Swiss team, who are the only team sailing from the 2024 America’s Cup venue of Barcelona.

The Swiss team completed two runs – the first on port tack, close to a following swell from the east.

The second was on starboard tack, into the easterly swell, which allowed for a smoother foiling. A foil tack was attempted between the two runs and failed – hardly surprising given the sea conditions and the crew’s level of experience sailing AC75.

After the second run the crew got a J4 jib on deck replacing the J2 used on the two runs and apparently prepared to test the upper end of the wind range. But given their experience, on the first day of sailing, when they got caught in an undertow, they obviously decided that discretion is better than velor and wisely shortened the session.

Crew member Nicolas Rolaz (23), the youngest member of the Swiss squad, was a former Optimist World Champion before switching to Laser/ILCA single-handed aircraft and then joining Alinghi RBR in their ‘Power’ squad. “The plan today was just to do the fine tuning and do some sailing,” he said. At the moment we’re not focusing so much on the conditions, we’re trying to learn the boat as much as possible.”

It is not known whether the AC75’s flight controls were performed primarily automatically, or whether the AC75 was flown manually. At this early stage of a test program, one would expect that some level of automation would be used in the flight control function. The Swiss team also uses different wing profiles on port and starboard – making comparison difficult as sea conditions are significantly different on either side – with port flapping being more difficult today.

The team is carrying a Team NZ style minimal lift/high speed wing on the starboard side – which comes into play on the first run on port tack which would likely have exacerbated the effects of the sea state – a following easterly swell.

On the other hand, the US team, an American Magic-style foil, also claimed to be a minimum-lift foil – but probably not as extreme as the Kiwi version.

The attitude of the New Zealand design team was to design the fastest foil possible and let sailors figure out how to sail it.

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