Time is the great enemy of any America’s Cup campaign, so February and the first half of March have been a busy time with a noticeable ramping up of the intensity all round.
The northern hemisphere winter has been cold and unpredictable whilst New Zealand has faced a poor summer of rain and storms. Nonetheless, the on-water hours have been racked up around the world, three new AC40s have been commissioned and Emirates Team New Zealand have been getting in some two-boat testing and race training. Here’s your latest recap of everything going down in this America’s Cup cycle…
Orient Express Racing Team
The beginning of February saw the announcement that the French are back in the America’s Cup with Orient Express Team led by Stéphan Kandler and Bruno Dubois. The team will be buying a design package off Emirates Team New Zealand and on the water, the hard-driving Quentin Delapierre will skipper, Thierry Douillard will coach whilst Franck Cammas will advise as Head of Performance and Design/Sailor Co-ordinator. Benjamin Muyl has been appointed as Principal Designer with Antoine Carraz supporting as Technical Director. Orient Express Team will be operational in Barcelona in Summer 2023 with an AC40 in build at McConaghy’s.
NYYC American Magic
The de-commissioning of ‘Patriot’ the famous American Magic warhorse AC75 from AC36 was done in some style. On the penultimate day of sailing, the much-modified rocket-ship was hitting 50 knots on the bear-aways and was given a final run-out on the 5th February covering over 100 nautical miles and welcomed back to base with red, white and blue smoke flares. Out with the old and in with the new though, as the team took delivery of their first new AC40 ‘America’ ahead of launching and maiden sail at the beginning of March. A team very much on the up, their winter in Pensacola Bay has been highly profitable with an assured confidence coursing through the team, now with one eye on the logistics of a move to Barcelon this summer.
A tricky start to the month for the British with the capsize and turtling of their prototype LEQ12 ‘T6’ on the 8th February that caused extensive damage. The ‘INEOS bounce’ though was quick, with the almost immediate launch on the 15th February of the team’s AC40 ‘Athena’ that had been in the shed since October whilst the concentration had been on T6. With foiling talent to burn and deep resources all over, INEOS Britannia’s sailors barely missed a beat in getting ‘Athena’ up to speed and rocketing around the Bay of Palma. The silver-lining for T6 was that it was due an extensive upgrade just before the capsize so any upset to the programme was mitigated.
Emirates Team New Zealand
A month of two-boat testing for the Kiwis, as they continue on their path towards AC37. The established helms of Nathan Outteridge and Pete Burling began to be pushed hard in the team’s LEQ12 over short-course racing by newcomers Liv Mackay and Leo Takahashi in the One-Design AC40 overseen by Josh Junior. A new mainsail head arrangement on the LEQ12 plus some modifications to the port anhedral foil were on display for the shared recon team, whilst the announcement that ‘Te Rehutai’ the team’s Cup-winning boat from AC36 is will very soon to be back out on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli
The Italians continue to impress, training out of Cagliari in Sardinia aboard their LEQ12, the sailing team look the most assured on the water and confident in their development programme that has seen several foil upgrades through February. Marco Gradoni and Ruggero Tita have both enjoyed significant helming time, rotating in for Francesco Bruni and Jimmy Spithill with ease. Over short courses, the Italians have looked imperious with dynamite technique and boat-handling. In February the team ran a training camp for the next generation of Italian Youth & Women, sailing Persico 69Fs and will take delivery of their first AC40 in March 2023. The Challenger to watch for sure.
Alinghi Red Bull Racing
February 15th saw a landmark moment for the America’s Cup with the launch and maiden sail of Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s AC40 becoming the first team to sail the new class in Barcelona. Meanwhile BoatZero went back into the shed for considerable deck modifications to reduce crew numbers from eleven to eight and introduce aero cyclors into the mix that appeared at the beginning of March but what we saw was a step-change in the sailing team as they took charge of the AC40 and had it flying almost immediately. Just six days later, on the 21st February, the Swiss joined the capsize club as the sailors pushed harder and harder to find the limits of the AC40 having got loose on a gybe. Being based at the venue, the highly focussed and settled Swiss are looking better and better with each passing month.