America's Cup challengers getting ready for Barcelona's regattas next year

Sailing teams set base, learn sea conditions, and train: how are France and Italy finding Catalan capital?

America's Cup racing teams: Orient Express Racing Team and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli during the preliminary regatta in Vilanova i la Geltrú on September 14, 2023
America's Cup racing teams: Orient Express Racing Team and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli during the preliminary regatta in Vilanova i la Geltrú on September 14, 2023 / Ricardo Pinto / America's Cup
Emma Monrós Rosell

Emma Monrós Rosell | @emmamonros | Barcelona

September 17, 2023 11:06 AM

September 17, 2023 11:06 AM

The America's Cup, the world's oldest sport competition still running, will hold its 37th edition in Barcelona.

Ahead of the first regatta held in Vilanova i la Geltrú, Catalan News interviewed two challenger teams to learn more about how they are preparing for the competition.

Both the challengers and the defenders have been setting base in Barcelona for some months, getting settled and training in Catalan waters.

Orient Express, the French team, has been the last team to confirm their participation in the competition: "We are probably the last team who has entered the event. We started only at the beginning of July, so in less than a month, we had built the base and started sailing," Stephan Kandler, Orient Express Racing Team founder and CEO, told Catalan News.

"We also have a small budget compared to the others. But I think France has a strong experience in sailing and we can catch up with the other teams. The other competitors are really strong, but we also have a great boat, and I think we can call ourselves an 'outsider' in the America's Cup," he added. 


In Vilanova's regatta, the teams have competed with an AC40 boat, which is 40 feet long (12 meters). A smaller version of the yacht that the teams will be competing in in 2024. 

The AC75, the boat for the final match of the America's Cup competition, takes longer to design and build.

"There is a big designing team for the boat. It is a lot of people, between 20 and 50, depending on the team. We have about two years to design the new boat, which finally gets built in the country of your team, which in our case is Italy," Francesco Bruni, a Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli helmsman, said to this media outlet. 

Listen to the full interview on our Filling the Sink podcast episode published on September 16, 2023.

The first edition of the America's Cup took place in 1851, 172 years ago, and since then the boats and engineering used to build and manage them have evolved. 

Now, the yachts are packed with technology to manage the sails and to get information about the wind for example, Enrico Voltolini, a sailor from the Italian team Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, said that "it has been a big step [in building the boats] since 2007, from the old version until now. Now, it is all driven by electronics and hydraulics. In 2007, it was, let's say, a normal sailing boat with ropes and sheaths. But now it's a much more complex system."

Barcelona's port has been transforming to welcome the 2024 America's Cup for the six sailing teams competing to set their base. But there are some conditions that can not be changed, those given by the sea. 

When asked about it, Francesco Bruni said, "Barcelona is a very particular place for sailing because the sea state is quite challenging; there are a lot of waves most of the time but not a lot of wind, so it is a unique place. But we had some very good conditions lately, so we can hope for the best for the America's Cup." 

After the competition in Vilanova, there are still two more preliminary regattas that will take place before the Challenger Series and the America's Cup Match. But this competition demands high levels of implication from all the team members at every stage. 

Quentin Delapierre, a helmsman from the French team Orient Express, said the outlook on the whole competition: "We did this project with a lot of ambition at the beginning, but we know that we have to take it step by step and not have so much projection in time. We have to follow the process and just keep the plan simple. If we are smart in every stage of the project, I think we will be able to do a lot of things in 2024.