It has been a very busy January for all the teams in the America’s Cup with their training programmes noticeably intensifying. Sign-off for the AC75 designs is just months away so the importance of data collection and analysis has never been at a higher premium. Here we look at all the teams and all the big developments.
Big January for the Defenders who initially added more refinement to sail and rig systems controls on their AC40 (AC40-1) in LEQ12 development mode while continuing to test their anhedral full-span port foil. Towards the end of the month, the Kiwis trialed new talent with an eye on the Youth & Women’s America’s Cup with Leo Takahashi and Liv Mackay beginning to helm whilst Sam Meech and Marcus Hansen rotated in with the established senior testing team. In early February, the team lined up two AC40s for the first time as the training programme enters a new phase.
The Challenger of Record has been busy wintering in Palma getting their LEQ12 prototype ‘T6’ into full data collection mode. New sails came aboard in mid-January and the team’s highly technical, data-driven approach to this cycle has seen the link between engineers and sailors get better and better. Bleddyn Mon and Iain Jensen have been key to this. They ‘joined’ the capsize club late in January, albeit in slo-mo, and the team plans to launch and sail their AC40 (AC40-2) that was delivered in October, in February.
Sailing out of Barcelona, the Swiss have been making strides forward on the water under the watchful eye of Sailing Team Adviser Pietro Sibello. After four weeks in the shed over Christmas to fit a new self-tacking jib system, January has been a watershed for the team on the water with a noticeable upping of the intensity and willingness to push BoatZero harder both in straight-lines and through manoeuvres. The team received their first AC40 at the end of January alongside some Persico 69Fs for training and evaluation so Alinghi Red Bull Racing will be changing gear in short order on the water through February.
Relentless hours and almost countless manoeuvres have put NYYC American Magic at the top of the pile for time on the water. Focus in January has been on re-gearing the cyclor system to produce increased power output for the hydraulics and the big tech leap was in the removal of the mainsheet ram from the clew to lie on a carrier set on a secondary track across the cockpit. What this produced was a neater mainsail clew arrangement and the Americans have some of the sharpest trim seen on an AC75. The team will de-commission ‘Patriot’ with the team’s new AC40 arriving at the beginning of February.
Training in Cagliari has been at a high intensity for the Italians through January who look rock solid in flight and precise through manoeuvres sailing their LEQ12 prototype at race pace, day after day. A new port foil was declared alongside a new starboard foil arm and this heavily sensored boat has been pushed through a relentless data collection programme. Helms have been swapped in and out with Marco Gradoni and Ruggera Tita taking increasing time alongside Francesco Bruni and Jimmy Spithill. Sail design has been much in focus with the Italians able to invert the top of the mainsail in the bigger conditions to de-power. At the end of January, the team hosted a week-long camp in Persico 69Fs to find the talent for their Youth & Women’s America’s Cup teams.
The French are back in the America’s Cup. It’s a very welcome return with the announcement that the Accor Hotel Group, using its ‘Orient Express’ brand has committed to K-Challenge, for a syndicate to be named the ‘Orient Express Team.’ The French have brought in big names such as skipper Quentin Delapierre, ocean racing legend Franck Cammas as Head of Performance, experienced naval architect Benjamin Muyl and Antoine Carraz as Technical Director. The team, led by Stéphan Kandler and Bruno Dubois will benefit from a latest generation technology package provided by the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand to allow Orient Express Team to gain time and start on equal terms with its opponents.
Set to be stand-out global events, the Women’s & Youth America’s Cup Regattas are two of the major highlights of AC37 in Barcelona, shining an intense spotlight on the next generation of America’s Cup sailors. It is the ultimate showcase for tomorrow’s household names and superstars of the sailing world’s most storied prize and with the Notice of Race having been published back on the 1st November 2022, formal invitations to yacht clubs around the world are being sent out from 1st February 2023 onwards.
The 37th America’s Cup will take place between August and October 2024 in the beating heart of beautiful Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia and one of the most visited cities on planet Earth.