The 24/7 routine is now set at the team bases. “Eat, sleep, sail, repeat” as Ineos put it succinctly and it’s a pretty daunting task now for everyone on the teams as they prepare for the Prada Cup. Reputations are on the line. Millions of dollars of development married with thousands of hours of sacrifice and dedication now all rest on the next nine days before the boats are measured in on the 13th ahead of racing on the 15th. It’s intense. White-hot intense. The time for crazy left-field ideas has pretty much closed. Testing time is limited. And for those keeping their powder-dry on a game-changer, it’s maximum security. The teams are clamming up and the skippers are giving very little away.
We have seen over the weekend a few snippets of development, mods if you like. Prada are taking aero seriously from the deck to the wing sail. And they look magnificent. Ineos have some clever stuff going on with their mainsail foot and some new jib tech – I would also suspect a complete overhaul of their mechatronics down below. They look like they are nailing tacking and gybing from the footage I’ve seen and we know they are quick in a straight line.
The Magic team are by far the most interesting. To my eye they’ve tweaked the undercarriage, the rocker, to an even more extreme scalpel shape with the focus on keeping the bow down and the stern up, clear of the water. It’s looking super extreme. They’ve also been throwing up some new rags and it’s here where we will see something clever, for sure. They look fast and measured with an almost rock-solid flight. Impressive.
The Kiwis, with a lot more time on their hands, are just going through their on-water drills, putting in the time on the water and are certainly not showing their design-hand at this stage. They will wait until the very last moment for that and watch as the Challenger series unfolds. I expect a big upgrade is just waiting in the shed and the shore crew are on stand-by to deliver it at rapier pace. The boat we see today is not the boat that will be defending the Cup. 100% sure of that.
And the jungle drums have been beating shoreside with some interesting and persistent requests appearing on the incredibly poorly written official AC website (see the latest press release – why oh why don’t they get someone to write in English?). Aside from the PR nonsense, the really interesting stuff is buried deep on the Official Noticeboard under Class Interpretations and it’s here where you can take the temperature of the Cup. Teams can anonymously request clarification and I highlight ruling 67 requested on the 4th December and ruling 69 requested on the 12th December regarding cameras and screens.
Is this the battleground for the 36th America’s Cup? Independent ride-height cameras that measure platform stability, angles against the shoreline, wing angles? It’s a minefield but clearly someone is on to it and didn’t get the answer they were looking for first time. Could this be where the Cup is won and lost? We are certainly seeing curious measurement points popping up on the sails and hulls and we know that there are billions of points of data coming off these boats on a daily basis. Interesting. One for the armchair admirals for sure to pore over. Thoughts below please…
The mods and rockers are in focus now. The testing window is closing rapidly. Time to get all the toys out of the shed. Time for those crazy ideas to become reality. The next few days are going to be fascinating. Look closely. Look very closely. It’s all in the detail.
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