SportsConstant waves and unstable wind: Barcelona challenges the sailors of the America's...

    Constant waves and unstable wind: Barcelona challenges the sailors of the America’s Cup of sailing

    First dates are never easy. And that of Luna Rossa Prada, one of the six participants in the Barcelona Sailing America’s Cup in 2024, with the Barcelona sea has not been the best. Little wind or too much swell. The team arrived last week to adapt to the conditions in the competition area and the feeling is prudent. It does not seem serious: practically the same thing happens to the rest of the teams when they arrive. The Barcelona sea always challenges its sailors.

    It is not the same to sail in Cagliari (Italy), where the Luna Rossa is based in a calmer sea, than in the Catalan capital. “In Barcelona the waves are higher and more frequent, and it makes navigation difficult with foils [las aletas inferiores que levantan el barco utilizando los principios fisicos que las alas de un avion]”, points out Checco Bruni, one of the helmsmen of the team that faces its seventh participation in the America’s Cup. A few days ago the rudder came out of the water during practice and the boat capsized.

    The constant waves, experts explain, increase the risk that the foils out of the water and the boat loses stability. Without a point of support or the push of the foil, the front part of the boat can hit the sea. The situation becomes more complicated when the wind does not go in the same direction as the sea currents, as sometimes happens on the Catalan coast. “We will have to modify some things in the design of the boat to adapt”, admits Bruni. He does not give details because secrecy is the routine of the America’s Cup, but he talks about “technical issues” and “stability.” This is not Auckland [sede de la ultima edicion], which was much flatter.” Each day of training, the engineers collect navigation data to evaluate performance at sea and propose modifications to the simulators. The challenge is to strike the perfect balance between stability and speed.

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    The members of Luna Rossa ascend the ropes of the sailboat Amerigo Vespucci.
    The members of Luna Rossa ascend the ropes of the sailboat Amerigo Vespucci. Kike Rincon (Kike Rincon)

    Luna Rossa will combine fortnightly stays between Barcelona and Italy between July and September to “get to know better” the Catalan coast, but refuses to settle permanently in the city until 2024, as Alinghi Red Bull Racing, the Swiss team, does. “It’s a question of strategy,” defends Bruni. “If we stay, we will know the conditions better, but we will sail less.” In winter, the team considers, the conditions to go out to sea are worse in Barcelona than in Cagliari, so those in charge understand that they will have more possibilities to train at home than in Catalonia. Along with the Swiss and Italians, the American Magic New York Yacht Club (USA) also trains in the city. Still yet to arrive are Team New Zealand (New Zealand), the defending champions; Ineos Britannia (United Kingdom), the challenger; and the Orient Express (France). As a rule, everyone has to train this summer in Barcelona for at least a few weeks.

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    The navigation difficulties do not seem to worry the teams at the moment. “It’s a new challenge for everyone and maybe it evens things out,” defends Ruggero Tita, 31, an Olympic gold medalist in Tokyo in the Nacra 17 class and currently in the ranks of Luna Rossa. Tita expresses herself with confidence from the deck of the Amerigo Vespucci, the imposing training ship of the Italian military navy that intends to circumnavigate the world in two years and that for a few hours this Sunday dropped anchor a few miles off the Barcelona coast to merge maritime tradition with the latest technology of the so-called Formula 1 of the sea. The Vespucci cadets continue to learn to orient themselves at sea with the help of the pole star and a sextant; and America’s Cup sailors generate electricity on board to lift the foils in full race “We are the two extremes of navigation, but the rules of the sea are the same,” agree the commander of the Vespucci, Luigi Romagnoli, and Checco Bruni. “If there is no wind, you do not advance; and if there are waves, everything gets complicated”. Near the command post of the military ship, a plaque gives clues as to what a seafaring soul requires: “It is not the one who starts, but the one who perseveres”.

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    With a year of work ahead, the chances of victory for the teams in the America’s Cup depend on the design of the boat. “Before the competition begins, the design marks the advantage”, Grant Dalton, skipper of Team New Zealand, winner in 2021 and therefore organizer of the competition, usually emphasizes. The champions of each edition become the defenders of the title: they choose the venue and compete only in the final regatta against the opponent who surpasses the rest in what is known as “challenge selection series”, a series of preliminary qualifiers. The Copa del America in Barcelona includes in this edition the women’s and youth competition and will be held between August and October 2024.

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    Source: EL PAIS

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