Monday, 1 February 2010

America's Cup: Alinghi 5 trimmed for Speed + Latest Images

The 1,100sqm gennaker on Alingi 5 is the largest of its type in the world, but comes with big loads for trimmer Simon Daubney. Image copyright Luca Butto'/Alinghi.

by Alinghi media

It’s easy to understand Alinghi 5 is a different yacht from America’s Cup Class sloops simply by looking at it. But team trimmer Simon Daubney knew he was in a different arena the moment the jib sheet settled into his hands on the first sail.

“I have a readout displaying the load on the winch,” says Daubney, “and I’d have to say the number was disconcerting. I’d never seen loads like that before.”

Simon Daubney, trimmer on Alinghi 5. Image copyright George Johns/Alinghi.

Alinghi’s trimmers include Daubney, Warwick Fleury, Nils Frei, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Lorenzo Mazza and Will McCarthy. It’s a tight-knit group that communicates constantly with the afterguard, ensuring optimum trim for the tactical requirements. Their depth of experience is immense and counts 15 America’s Cup victories.

Alinghi 5 off Valencia. Image copyright George Johns/Alinghi.

"I think Alinghi's biggest asset is its people,” says Fleury, the mainsail trimmer. “Alinghi has been around as an America's Cup team for 10 years now which is a lot longer than any other team. I think it's almost a unique team in that we have had so few personnel changes over the years. As a result the team is very strong and it runs very efficiently."

Getting the best out of Alinghi 5 is an ongoing process. They’ve learned the need to trim the mainsail traveller and jib in unison to make the sail plan efficient, something that wasn’t as important on the ACC sloops. The crew would like more time to continue learning their mighty vessel, but they’ve made huge gains since Alinghi 5 began sailing last August.

Alinghi 5 off Valencia. Image copyright George Johns/Alinghi.

“With Alinghi 5, we wake up in the morning and we just can't wait to get on it and go sailing, and when we learn something it's a big thing we learn,” says Daubney. “You’re learning by leaps and bounds rather than small increments, so that part of it is way more enjoyable.”

Alinghi 5 off Valencia. Image copyright Luca Butto'/Alinghi.

Settling in aboard Alinghi 5 has taken some time. In the early days the crew was hesitant to push too hard because they didn’t know the boundaries. They had the spreadsheets full of technical data that told them where the red line existed, and alarms aboard the yacht provide audible warnings when they near the breaking point. But as with anything worth undertaking, they’ve become much more used to the boat’s great speed potential.

Ernesto Bertarelli at the helm. Image copyright George Johns/Alinghi.

“Usually, at least with a keelboat, the larger the boat the less sensation of speed you experience,” says Fleury. “Because of the greater mass of the boat things happen a lot slower and sometimes it’s almost like you are sailing in slow motion. Even though the boat may still be going very fast you just don't feel it. I was expecting a bit of that with the catamaran just because of the scale of it, but in reality it actually feels very much like a smaller boat. It’s surprisingly responsive, so you have to be quick and alert.”

Alinghi 5 off Valencia. Image copyright George Johns/Alinghi.

It could be said the crew has graduated to being quick and alert, as opposed to being on egg shells in the early days. While Daubney has grown more comfortable with the loads, his new technique means listening to traveller operator Murray Jones a lot more than before. The two have logged every mile of an America’s Cup course together for the past 15 years, so practical jokes are natural.

Alinghi 5 in Valencia. Image copyright George Johns/Alinghi.

“Murray plays the traveller and will lower it and raise it at times just to keep me on my toes,” Daubney says. “So when he comes forward I’ll ease the jib sheet a couple clicks and he jumps. The loads are just so amazing, it sounds catastrophic.”

Alinghi 5 out of the water in Valencia. Image copyright George Johns/Alinghi.


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