Only two of the six America’s Cup teams risked their AC40s on the Red Sea swell off the Jeddah Corniche to assist the race management team set their systems.
The first Official Practice Races start on Wednesday 29 November with the First of three days of Racing on Thursday 30 November.
Perhaps mindful of their event responsibilities the America’s Cup defender, Emirates Team New Zealand and INEOS Britannia, the Challenger of Record, ventured out in the bumpy conditions.
A solid NNW 14-17 knots breeze with 1.2 metre waves and an underlying swell off the Jeddah Corniche produced 1.2 to 1.4 metre rolling swells.
The British suffered a technical issue with a stuck flap, and after spending half-an-hour attempting to fix it, called it a day and returned to the Jeddah Yacht Club Marina.
Emirates Team New Zealand meanwhile started and went into what was scheduled as a two-lap race in a building swell and breeze that was right at the top end for the AC40 with its reduced waterline.
Peter Burling and Nathan Outteridge treated what was a full-on practice with rapier-fast tacks upwind as Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney dialled in a low flight with wide cant angles to keep the boat close enough to the water for speed but high enough to ride the swells.
Downwind, the swells were tough and getting tougher.
A slow exit from a two-board gybe looked to be safety first from the sailors and they gybed offshore to avoid the building waves on the reef in front of the marina.
A gybe back brought them into the mark zone and then a further two-board-down gybe secured a starboard-hand rounding to head offshore again.
With the seas building, the Kiwies suffered a full splashdown, and also decided to call it day and accepted a tow home.
According to the forecasts, more benign conditions of approximately 8-12 knots are expected on Wednesday for the Official Practice Races, and similar conditions for the regatta.
America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta Jeddah, presented by NEOM Event Schedule:
Wednesday 29 November: Official Practice Race Day
Thursday 30 November: First Day of Racing
Friday 1 December: Second Day of Racing
Saturday 2 December: Third & Final Day of Racing and Prizegiving