Alinghi Red Bull Racing – The real day one

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Alinghi Red Bull Racing

When you put an America’s Cup programme together, perhaps these are the afternoons that you dream of. Perfect conditions. Long flight. Lessons learned. But it was late in the afternoon when the autumnal Barcelona wind Gods played ball, allowing Alinghi Red Bull Racing to unleash the massive power of BoatZero and achieve good stints at speeds that were recorded at around 28 knots. No surprises then, that when the team came ashore there were smiles on their faces, safe in the knowledge that significant progress had been made and the programme firmly on track.

© Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

The crane in today was noticeably much earlier at 0900 and the team were docked out by 11.30 to return at 17.30. The big J1 jib was set dockside as well as the mainsail pre-fed for launch once clear of the dock. Taking to the Barcelona waters initially just a few hundred metres away from their base at the port entrance and after a brief tow session with the mainsail up in just 5 knots of morning breeze, BoatZero was let loose for some controlled displacement sailing out to sea as the northerly wind filtering off the land mass of the Barcelona city centre switched around 180 degrees to come in at a steady 10-12 knots from the south on smooth water.

© Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Onboard again today was Sailing Team Adviser Dean Barker who brings such presence and poise to the young Swiss team and the Barker effect is real, tangible almost. Arnaud Psarofaghis, the appointed skipper of Alinghi Red Bull Racing is just looking better and better and as confidence builds, the team are clicking well together, going about their business with the utmost professionalism. The flatter sea state that greeted the Swiss today was a welcome relief from the relentless swells of last week – and by late afternoon, BoatZero was ripping around the steel grey autumnal waters in a temperate 20 degrees.

© Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

This was Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s eighth official day of sailing according to the agreed Protocol schedule for ‘Emerging Nations’ of 20 days testing and it was a long session on the water – for sure a sign of what’s to come in the remaining days ahead. Configuration was the same as previous days, with the anhedral American Magic port foil and the ETNZ flat wing on starboard but in the flatter waters of today, the boat looked low and mean on port tack whilst on starboard there was more elevation at times as the Flight Control was thoroughly tested, perhaps an indication of more confidence on those ‘Magic’ foils. The recon team reported that: “the numerous touch downs (and nosedives) allowed for water to find its way into the boat, with the drainage pumps visibly working often to pump out the water.”

The team made Adolfo Carrau, the affable Alinghi Red Bull Racing Design Co-ordinator (formerly of American Magic), available for comment after the lengthy sailing session and he was pleased with what he saw: “every day on the water is valuable…today was the ‘real day one.’ We were trying to remember what the ‘real day one’ looked like in the previous campaign and it looked a bit like this one.” Speaking about the foils Carrau continued: “We know both foils pretty well from the last campaign with Team New Zealand and American Magic so we know what to expect. It’s just a matter of learning how to sail the boat…but it’s good to see the different philosophies and learn from it.”

As classrooms go, the America’s Cup is a tough place to learn but the Swiss are looking better and better as time ticks on, the teamwork begins to gel and familiarity with BoatZero is ingrained. The sailors will be a key input into the final design of the Alinghi Red Bull Racing AC75 that will contest the 37th America’s Cup and these are crucial, valuable days for the team.

The big question is when we will see the first foiling tacks and gybes. Not long now