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America's Cup: Terry Hutchinson on NYYC American Magic

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 27 Feb 01:06 PST 27 February 2019
A new dawn greets NYYC American Magic's AM38 in the team's winter base in Pensacola, Florida. © Amory Ross

As one of the most esteemed yacht clubs in the world, the New York Yacht Club evokes a mix of reactions and emotions amongst sailing fans. They were the founding club of the America’s Cup, which has grown and survived for over 160 years to become one of the worlds oldest international sporting events, and certainly one of its most prestigious. Certainly, the Cup is one of the few sailing events that has crossed the divide into the mainstream media.

For over 130 years, New York Yacht Club, and its Defence management was the bastion of sailing success until the afternoon of September 26, 1983, when Liberty lost to Australia II.

In the 2021 America’s Cup, the club will be represented by a new team, NYYC American Magic, based on two very successful programs run by club members in the Maxi 72 class and the 52 Super Series.

With just 22 months remaining to the start of the Challenger Selection Series, most America’s Cup pundits put the New York Yacht Club’s team NYYC American Magic as being the leading Challenger.

The team Principals are two well-known U.S. sailors - Hap Fauth, owner/driver of the Maxi 72 Bella Mente, and Doug DeVos, owner/driver of the TP52 Quantum Racing. Joining Fauth and DeVos is Roger Penske, an NYYC member like the other two Principals but also the biggest name in American motorsports.

Skipper and Executive Director Terry Hutchinson admits they needed to think carefully about their strengths and weaknesses in formulating their program to win back the America’s Cup. They are a first-time team with over 150 years of America’s Cup experience.

NYYC American Magic had to get good traction in their first year, engaging a full 100-person team, running sailing programs that spanned several classes and events, building two boats, establishing two operational bases, launching a 38ft foiling monohull designed to mimic the AC75 class to be sailed in the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland, and designing and starting construction of their first AC75.

It’s a formidable checklist - even for a strong America’s Cup team coming off the back of 30 years of competitive success.

"2018 was a developmental year for the sailing team with Quantum Racing sailing in the 52 Super Series regattas,” Hutchinson told Sail-World from the team’s winter base in Pensacola, Florida. “We started the season doing a foiling camp in February with Paul Goodison, myself, Bora Gulari and Andrew Campbell.”

“Part of that was to help Goodie prepare for the Moth Worlds. That went reasonably well.

“From there we used the three training sessions for the Congressional Cup from which we rotated through some sailors and really developed the relationship with Andrew Campbell.

“We used that as an opportunity to prepare our afterguard for the 52 Super Series. It also allowed Dean Barker and I the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with one another, ten years on from Valencia.”

Barker is a veteran of six America’s Cups, starting with Team New Zealand in 1995 and leaving the team in mid-2014 and was replaced by the Olympic Silver medallist and rising talent Peter Burling. Barker was, in turn, snapped up by the fledgeling Softbank Team Japan for the 2017 America’s Cup, which worked in close association with defending champion, Oracle Team USA.

Although the Japanese team did not progress beyond the Semi-Finals, Barker sailed well, and was outstanding in the heavy air Semi-Final races, going 3-0 up against Finalist Artemis Racing.

Hutchinson and Barker were tactician and skipper respectively in Emirates Team New Zealand’s comeback campaign in the 2007 America’s Cup, going down 5-2 to Alinghi after a 1sec loss in the seventh race of the series.

Long Beach regattas set up season

Now the old firm is back in business and had its first work-out in two match racing regattas sailed at the Long Beach Yacht Club [now the second US America’s Cup team].

“The Ficker Cup went well”, Hutchinson reflected. “We finished in Silver in the Congressional Cup - ran out of a bit of steam at the end which was disappointing.

“But in the big picture, it set up the baseline for the 52 Super Series which was the main goal for the season.

“They did a very good job of that because we came out of the blocks very quick at the first 52 regatta in Sibenik, Croatia in mid-May. We won that regatta and really set the baseline for the year.

“Getting knocked back a little bit early on was good and helped us to be sharp and learn from some of those early mistakes. From there the 52 went well, with the team win in the World Championship and then the season championship.

“Dean and Sean [Clarkson] went onto win the RC44 World Championship. So in a sailing development and just getting the guys back out on the water, it was so great to see the team's success in various classes. It was good to see Goodie win in the Moth Worlds, our win in the 52.”

“In the production world, which is a critical component to success in the America's Cup, the team did a very good job of building a Maxi 72 in a very short timeframe. We also built the facility in Bristol we needed to build the Mule and AC75’s and get the test boat out on the water in the Fall [from the team’s summer base near Newport RI.]

“Looking back, the team achieved what we set out to do in 2018. With everyone doing their jobs consistently we were able to manufacture and deliver on what we wanted to achieve.”

“But respectfully that was last year! We set a baseline and proved to ourselves that we were all capable of doing what we were hired to do.

“But we have a big year [2019] ahead of us for sure.”

Blend of experience

The team NYYC American Magic have assembled comprises over a hundred people drawn from a variety of nationalities and backgrounds, but more than 50% of its sailors and team members overall are American. Those members of the sailing team who are not US nationals will have to complete 380 days of residence in USA before leaving for New Zealand and the 2021 America’s Cup. Or they may be able to take advantage of the new definition of nationality determined by the Arbitration Panel in December 2018.

NYYC American Magic has selected many of its sailing team members from previous America’s Cup teams in the two foiling Cups of 2013 and 2017 sailed in wingsailed AC 72 and AC50 foiling multihulls.

“There are over a hundred in the team now. Marcelino (Botin) and the guys have had AC62 experience (Luna Rossa), and a lot of those guys wound up in Team New Zealand's hands which was good for all of us.

“In terms of sailors, as well as Dean Barker in the 2017 America's Cup there was Andrew Campbell, Paul Goodison, Sean Clarkson, Cooper Dressler, Matt Cassidy and Luke Payne. We also have many recent veterans in our shore, design and build teams. When you roll through in that regard, in my mind, the critical hires in the speed development of the boat are all seasoned from the last two cycles of the foiling era.

"The thing that I am enjoying the most and what is really, really cool is to see with Dean, Goodie [Paul Goodison (GBR)] and Andrew [Campbell] is the level of experience that these guys have with the boats.

“But there are a lot of things that I could offer up having spent the last five years racing the 52 when Dean was doing the multihulls and all that. There was a lot of things that I could give to him that would help him to sail the boat better.

“It’s awesome to hear these guys talk and listening to how they are processing the information and how they are going about sailing the boat and how to sail the boat. And every day that we spend together doing it, I'm incredibly thankful that those three guys accepted the job offers they did because they will be key to our success and help us rebuild a modern America’s Cup culture within the U.S.

“On the personal side, Dean and I had a great run in 2007, and we sailed NZL-92 as well as we possibly could have. You've got to imagine that the faster boat won,” he chuckles. “When we look across the last decade, that can be said about every America's Cup - the faster boat has won.”

“For NYYC American Magic we are certainly setting the baseline to develop a fast boat. It is great to have the experience that Dean provides to the team - but also what Goodie provides and what Andrew provides and Sean [Clarkson] and Michel Kermarec and just go down the team list - they all provide experience, which is really, really good.”

Mule scaled down version of the AC75

NYYC American Magic was the second team to launch a development boat – the largest permitted under the Surrogate Rule of the AC36 Protocol which prevents a team building a boat longer than 12 metres which “is capable of producing meaningful design or performance information”.

Ineos Team UK was the first to launch a 28ft foiling monohull. However, it does not appear to be constructed to mimic an AC75, while the 38ft “Mule” as the NYYC American Magic development boat is called, has been designed and built to be a scaled-down version of the AC75.

Why call it the Mule?

“A Mule is a term used when they develop cars in the automotive industry,” replies Hutchinson. “It was something that Mr Penske (Roger Penske, Team Principal and motorsports icon) started calling it straight away. We just picked it up. It is a unique term used in the automotive world,” he adds.

Also known as the NYYC American Magic 38 (AM38), Hutchinson says he prefers the Mule moniker.

So far, the Mule sailed by five crew, has been a revelation, not just for the team, but for the America’s Cup world who had their eyes opened when video and still images emerged of the Mule foiling off Newport RI.

“I don't want to jinx us, but the Mule is going better than I think any of us would ever expected,” says Hutchinson. “It is a great proof of concept boat.”

“I don't know the other team's philosophies and approaches, but when I look at where we are weak against the team we have to beat [ETNZ] - at the beginning stages we were weak in infrastructure, but now we’re in good shape. However, compared to the Defender, we are still weak in time.

“So, we needed something that was going to allow us to accelerate the learning curves throughout the program, which is why we put ourselves under so much pressure in 2018 - to race well, to produce a 72, to produce the Mule. We've had to do these things to prove to ourselves to the extent that we could, that we could execute.

And if we didn't execute - then we would learn from those mistakes, as well.

“The Mule is providing us with that platform to do exactly what we needed to do.

“It's allowing us the opportunity to develop as a sailing team. It's allowing us the opportunity to develop systems that we can transfer directly over to the AC75. And it's allowing us the opportunity to make mistakes without punishing us with Boat 1 and Boat 2.

“Every time that we capsize. Every time that we do something we shouldn't have done or should know better, it doesn't come with a big penalty.

“But in a positive way, we absolutely get better. We have to because of the competition that we are going against. We know they are very good and we have a long way to go. We have to start somewhere.”

Mimicking the AC75

Several teams have taken the option of buying a base design package from Emirates Team New Zealand as a way of closing the gap on the America’s Cup champions.

The three “Super Teams” as New York Yacht Club, Royal Yacht Squadron and Circolo della Vela Sicilia’s teams have been labelled are all running a bespoke design program.

Given that approach for the Mule, NYYC American Magic had to determine whether it would take the design philosophy route that mimicked the AC75 so that the AM38 was a scaled version of the AC75. Or, if they should just design a foiling budget version 38fter to get a test platform on the water in the shortest time for crew training and rig testing?

“The hull itself is a McConachy 38. But that is where it stops”, Hutchinson replies.

“The question is a good one because it took us a bit to convince ourselves that it was the right thing to do. The concept started out for the sailing team to try and get their head around what we were getting into, and it evolved out of that.

“Our danger is that we actually produce the fastest 38fter in the world and not the fastest AC75. We have to be very mindful as a team to get out of it what we can get. We are continually asking ourselves - "How is this going to make Boat 1 go faster?" "How is this going to make Boat 2 go faster?"

“You can take a lot of what is inside the Mule and put it into the AC75 and go yachting.

“With the limited time we are going to have with the AC75, this boat is going to play a very integral part in our development. We have a simulator, but we need both tools to validate the design. It is providing absolute value in validating what the design team is thinking.”

Stay tuned for Part 2

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