America’s Cup: what to expect from the Jeddah races and what Luna Rossa will do

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America's Cup
AC 40s engaged in a fleet race.

The America’s Cup is starting to “watch the clock” as it is one year before the start of the 2024 edition, scheduled to begin Oct. 12 in Barcelona, and just over a month and a half before the second Preliminary Regatta to be held Nov. 29-Dec. 2 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The teams have now entered the thick of preparation, following different strategies: Luna Rossa and Ineos Britannia train on the Leq 12 (the AC 75 scale prototypes); American Magic, Team New Zealand and Alinghi divide their time between training in AC 40s and those with the old AC 75s; Orient Express Team France, on the other hand, currently has only the AC 40 at its disposal, being the last team in order of time to register for the next America’s Cup.

America's Cup Luna Rossa
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team engaged with the LEQ12 in Cagliari.

America’s Cup – What to expect from the Jeddah Regattas

 

The next Preliminary Regattas will be held in Saudi Arabia in Jeddah, in a season that is not among the hottest for the area. Average minimum temperatures will still be above 20 degrees, with peaks above 30. Between November and December, the dominant wind in Jeddah is easterly, with average intensity expected to settle around 8-9 knots. We are not in the windiest season for Jeddah, which is at its best between June and August, but there should be good enough conditions to see some steady racing, probably better than in Vilanova where the first of the Preliminaries was held characterized by very light winds.

What to expect instead as technical content in water? The premise remains the same: AC 40 racing is not the America’s Cup, and none of the teams are devoting too much energy to preparing for it, as the big goal is to finalize the final design details of the future AC 75s whose construction has now begun.

Verisimilarly, however, the technical level will rise after what we saw in Vilanova. All teams will arrive with more hours of AC 40 knowledge and errors will be reduced compared to the Catalan races. There is no real favorite team; with AC 40 in One Design mode, anyone can win, regardless of whether it is a team with Cup experience or not. It is no coincidence that Team France’s late finishers in Vilanova were able to win a race.

America’s Cup – What to expect from Luna Rossa in Jeddah

Max Sirena keeps repeating this in all interviews: the goal in the short term is to finalize the final design details of AC 75 and arrive prepared for the real America’s Cup. In this sense, the Preliminary Regattas are almost a “disturbance,” a distraction that must be attended by Protocol but which the Italian team would probably gladly do without. Then, of course, there is the competitive aspect: no one in Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli likes to lose, and Vilanova’s regattas in fact were hardly digested by a crew that is used to fighting to win.

We could probably see some turnover within the crew, some physiological “turnover” to give other team members a taste of the race mode. In fact, it cannot be ruled out that we will see Ruggero Tita on board as one of the two coxswains and Vittorio Bissaro in the role of trimmer, with young Gradoni at the window ready to take advantage of any opportunity he is given. However, without losing sight of the main goal: the actual America’s Cup, the one to be run in 2024.

Mauro Giuffrè

 

 

 

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