The America’s Cup lands for the first time in history on the Red Sea with the Preliminary Regattas in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. On stage again are the AC 40s, for the second event in the run-up to the America’s Cup 2024 in Barcelona.
America’s Cup – Jeddah preliminary races, day 1
The long-awaited thermal breeze from Jeddah on the first day of racing tends to be a bit lacking, and the spectacle of the first three races, with frequent falls from the foils, is not much different from what was seen in Vilanova.
There was great anticipation to see Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli on the water with the new pair of helmsmen, Marco Gradoni and Ruggero Tita, in a crew completed by Umberto Molineris and Vittorio Bissaro. It takes the two helmsmen of the new “moody” generation two races to get in tune with the field: first they suffer, they make mistakes, they chase in the first two trials. Then they fought back, won the start of race 3 and led from the beginning to the end going on to take Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s first win in these Preliminary Regattas. The Italian team ended the first day with a 3-4-1 split, placing behind Team New Zealand, which won the first two races.
On the rise in Ineos Britannia compared to the Vilanova stage, disastrous instead was the performance of American Magic on this first day, after winning the Spanish stage. Always performing and favored New Zealanders, consistent both Alinghi Red Bul Racing and Orient Express Team France.
Jeddah Preliminary Regattas – Race 1
Maginal foiling conditions in the first race of the day, with winds around 6-7 knots and difficulty in foiling by the AC 40s. Luna Rossa gets off to a poor start, with New Zealand and Ineos getting off to a good start instead. American Magic fails to start on foils and does not cross the starting line in time to avoid the DSQ, disqualification in this case for failure to start.
Solo by the Kiwis, who also show greater speed than their opponents, while Luna Rossa at the beginning of the first run falls off the foils and permanently loses contact with the group, a similar fate that shortly afterwards also befalls Orient Express and Alinghi, the race becomes a two-way discussion between Team New Zealand and Ineos Britannia.
Watch Race 1
Jeddah’s first regatta, won comfortably by the Kiwis who led from start to finish, was, however, affected by the very light wind and does not shift the spectacle of the Preliminary Regattas into high gear compared to the Vilanova leg; when the boats are not all flying the sporting content of the races becomes objectively poor.
Luna Rossa finishes third, after a trial where it tries to limit damage more than attack. Also to be reviewed is the international direction, which connects with the regatta just 1 minute before the start and has line problems that do not show the time of the start.
Jeddah Preliminary Regattas – Race 2
Tough start for Luna Rossa, which drops foils within seconds of the start and ends up immediately trailing, with Team New Zealand once again running away to the lead.
The Kiwis try to kill the race right away, sailing alone in clean air and still showing better speed, open battle instead for the remaining positions, with a brilliant Alinghi Red Bull Racing fighting for second place. Luna Rossa pursued headlong and managed in the second stern to recover a position by taking advantage of an error by American Magic, and then also going on the attack of Orient Express.
Watch Race 2
Instead, Emirates Team New Zealand’s dominance on this opening day of the Jeddah Preliminary Regattas was impressive, also winning the second race with a lead of more than half a side over the rest of the fleet. Luna Rossa finished fourth in a comeback behind, in addition to the Kiwis, Alinghi and Brinattia.
Jeddah Preliminary Regattas – Race 3
Luna Rossa goes for a more effective start in the last race of this debut day of the Jeddah Preliminaries, managing a pre-start without straying too far from the start line and succeeding.
Luna Rossa’s first provisional lead in these Arab Preliminaries, followed a few lengths behind by Team New Zealand.Solid first windward leg by the Italian team, which holds well in the lead until the first gate, with a margin of about 100 meters over the rest of the fleet. Also good was Luna Rossa’s stern, which had to respond to the New Zealanders’ attacks.
For the second upwind the Italian crew chooses the right and at the first crossing the choice pays off with the lead increasing significantly. In control in the second stern, Luna Rossa ditches the lead in the third race, when she is the only one and does not fall off the foils and dominates from start to finish. The first scoring scratch by the pair Ruggero Tita and Marco Gradoni, assisted by trimmers Umberto Molineris and Vittorio Bissaro.