Alinghi Red Bull Racing took full advantage of Barcelona at its absolute best today with the south-westerly ‘Garbi’ coming in bang on cue in the early afternoon and serving up near-perfect wind over testing but relatively flat swell that had the team’s AC40 flying across the downtown waterfront at impressive speeds.

Was there an air of tentativeness? Perhaps. The sailors were quite rightly keeping the boat in low-foil mode on auto-pilot as the conditions toughened and upwind the mainsheet trim, that could so accurately be seen as the 3DL twin-skinned mainsail shimmered in the Spring sunshine, was razor sharp with the leech breaking beautifully all the way up as the team spilled and pumped to maintain flight and control.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

The day started with a capsize drill as the team waited for the wind and ran through the righting protocol for the benefit of both the sailors and the Chase Boat team. Lowering both boards into their full-down position and then getting the tallest member of the sailing team (we suspect Bryan Mettraux) to hang from the leeward side on the shrouds was the key to this exercise. One aborted attempt was made before the full capsize was enacted on the second attempt and with consummate ease, the bow line was attached, and the boat came upright. Good practise for the whole on-water team – capsizes will happen as the sailors inevitably push these boats harder and harder through the testing sessions to really find the limit.

Once sailing, Alinghi Red Bull Racing initially tacked on and launched the J1 to get maximum horsepower for flight and then changed down to the J2 as the wind strength increased – by the end of the session it looked certainly strong enough almost for the J3 but the sailors called a halt to the day just before 3pm and towed back to base. Smiles all round, this has been a terrific week for the Swiss and the buzz around the team is, quite rightly, palpable.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Rodney Ardern is a sailor who has been a part of two America’s Cup winning campaigns with the team and is now heavily involved in the recon side for Alinghi Red Bull Racing and he gave a good insight into the culture that has been forged for AC37 saying: “Well obviously it’s a new team, there’s not too many of the old guys left, there’s a few of us kicking around but I think we managed to form a team with a similar culture, everyone gets on well together, everyone’s pretty easy going, everyone’s pretty focused on what they need to do and now I think we’re on a good track.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

The shore team at the temporary base have put in a serious shift this week running both the AC75 ‘BoatZero’ and getting the new AC40 launched and sailing. Ardern is more than happy with the AC40 saying: “Everyone has being really impressed with the package you receive, a few small teething problems, things that we have to work through with the other teams typically (Emirates) Team New Zealand who have established the class, but everyone has been super impressed, the sailors and the guys working on the boat have found it pretty easy and there’s been a good package with good information and good manuals to learn about the boat.”

And after a stunning session today out in Barcelona, the Swiss will be taking an awful lot away from this week. The first to launch and sail an AC40 in Barcelona, the week ended on a high for Alinghi Red Bull Racing.

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