The first America's Cup preliminary regatta raced in AC40s will take place in September 2023 in the Catalonian port of Vilanova i la Geltrú

The six competing teams in the 37th America’s Cup are set to get their first chance to line up competitively against one another at the first America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta, from 14-17 September 2023.

The event, which sees the America’s Cup teams move 50km up the coast to Vilanova i La Geltrú from the main event base in Barcelona, includes four days of racing in the AC40 one-design foiling monohull.

Racing begins with official practise on Thursday 14 September, followed by three fleet races on 15 and 16 September, and then two further fleet races on the Sunday before a single match race final. Coverage will be live-streamed via as well on The America’s Cup YouTube channel.

The AC40s lined up to test the tech ahead of the Preliminary Regatta, but are yet to officially race. Photo: Ugo Fonollá/America’s Cup

As it is held in the supplied AC40s, rather than the America’s Cup final designs of the AC75, the Preliminary Regatta will have little direct bearing on the Cup match proper, which takes place 11 months later. However, it is a good opportunity for the teams to bank some foiling race practice, and perhaps glean some indications of whose preparation schedules have been the most fruitful so far.

As with any one-design fleet, the AC40s will put a premium on boat handling, so the one thing the Preliminary Regatta will give some indication of is clues to the sailing teams’ preparation level.

“All the teams are looking forward to lining up in the AC40 against other teams because it’ll give us a good read and a good yardstick on just how our sailors are doing in terms of their technique and the sharpness of their racing skills. It’ll also give us some good feedback on some of the things that we think are fast about the way you sail an AC40; everything from bustle clearance to sail trim. We’ll get a chance to measure those things when AC40s line up against other AC40s,” explains Jeff Causey, INEOS Britannia’s boat operations manager.

Jimmy Spithill explained that even within the one-design there will be variations in set up: “The hardware is exactly the same as the others, and it really comes down to the teams using the controls: cant, ride height, the trim of the boat. Obviously sails and technique, there’s a lot of little things there.”

However, INEOS Britannia’s Leigh McMillan cautioned: “We’re certainly going to put some more time in the AC40s. But the Cup itself, and designing and having a fast boat for the America’s Cup, has got to be our absolute goal. It’s not all about the AC40 for now!”

How do the America’s Cup teams stack up?

Photo: Job Vermeulen/America’s Cup

Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

The Defenders moved their team from New Zealand to Barcelona this July. Nathan Outteridge and Pete Burling have been taking the dual helms of their AC75 and two AC40s. The Kiwis have performed consistently in the Practice Racing in Barcelona with a tight-knit team that trust in their process.

Photo: Ugo Fonollá/America’s Cup

INEOS Britannia (GBR)

The British squad moved from their winter training base in Palma, and have been trialing a T6 test boat and AC40. Giles Scott is sailing team manager for skipper Ben Ainslie. But it has not been the strongest display from the team in practise racing so far, with execution of manouvers in the AC40 looking less than polished.

Photo: Alex Carabi/America’s Cup

Alinghi Red Bull Racing (SUI)

Vilanova Preliminary Regatta will be the first time Ernesto Bertarelli’s famous Swiss team takes part in an America’s Cup race since 2010, now skippered by Hans- Peter Steinacher. Combined helms, Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin have formed a dynamic partnership, rooted in steady progression, and Alinghi Red Bull Racing have surprised to the upside in the practice regattas.

Photo: Paul Todd/America’s Cup

American Magic (USA)

Australian Tom Slingsby and Brit Paul Goodison are among the sailing squad headliners. The US team has secured some of the highest number of hours in the AC40s thanks to a two-boat programme. They chose to sit out the first few days of the recent practice regatta, preferring to complete their aero and foil testing schedule, but when they came to the racecourse, they were sensational and already look ones to beat in the one-design class.

Photo: Ivo Rovira/America’s Cup

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (ITA)

Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni return on the twin wheels of the Italian AC40, though Spithill cautioned they have had less time racing against other boats than some other teams. However, Luna Rossa have been unafraid to ride very different modes to the others and at times have shown unbelievable boatspeed.

Photo: Martin Keruzore/OERT

Orient Express Team (FRA)

The newest team on the block, the French squad were flying on their first AC40 test sail after launching mid-August, skipper Quentin Delapierre crediting the time they put in on the simulator. Whether they can challenge for the title in Vilanova is a tall ask with so little time in the AC40 compared to the more established teams but they should put up a good fight.

America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta schedule

The format of the Regatta will consist of up to 8 fleet races followed by a single Match Race Final between the two highest scoring Competitors in the fleet racing.

Racing will take place on:

  • Thursday 14 September Official Practice
  • Friday 15 September Race Day 1 – 3 Fleet Races
  • Saturday 16 September Race Day 2 – 3 Fleet Races
  • Sunday 17 September Race Day 3 – 2 Fleet Races, Match Race Final (1 race).

Racing is scheduled to be between 1530 and 1730 hours each day, though this can be changed if conditions so require.

In preparation for the first preliminary regatta Vilanova i la Geltrú in just 1 month’s time, four teams lined up for the first AC40 races to help test the new RMS and broadcast systems. Photo: Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

How to watch the America’s Cup preliminary regatta

The America’s Cup races will be live-streamed across the official America’s Cup website: as well as available to watch on YouTube in most territories.

This may not be available in territories where broadcast rights have been sold, but as yet there is no information available about broadcast deals, so it is safe to assume most territories will have Youtube access to racing.

The America’s Cup Social Media channels on Instagram, Facebook, and X (Twitter) will also be fully activated and updated throughout the racing with a mix of multi-media. Daily race reports will be available on the America’s Cup website after racing.

You can also follow all of our coverage on Yachting World’s America’s Cup mini site.

For those wishing to watch in Barcelona, the America’s Cup Race Village will offer spectators the chance to experience the unique buzz and atmosphere of the regattas off the water.

The Race Villages free throughout all America’s Cup events, with large maxi screens to view the racing action live with commentary plus event and team activations alongside an array of food and beverage stations.

The Race Village in Vilanova i La Geltrú, will open at 11:00 daily and run through to 20:00 with live racing between 15:00 to 17:30 and sailor presentations and interviews after the racing each day.

When is the next America’s Cup preliminary regatta?

After this first America’s Cup Preliminary regatta, teams head to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for a second regatta between 29th November to 2nd December 2023. The third and last preliminary regatta will be held in August 2024 in Barcelona.

As with the first event, the regatta in Saudi Arabia will have racing in AC40s, but the final preliminary event in 2024 will see all the America’s Cup teams race in their new AC75s for the very first time.

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