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America's Cup: Barker gives AC75 the thumbs up despite capsize

by American Magic/Richard Gladwell, 7 May 18:50 PDT 8 May 2019
`The Mule` - Spring training in Pensacola, Florida - giving a better idea of the foiling physics of the AC75. © Amory Ross

America's Cup challenger, American Magic, the team of the New York Yacht Club have released a video from the winter sailing base at Pensacola of their development boat "the Mule".

"It's a very interesting boat," says helm Dean Barker, who is now involved in his sixth full America's Cup campaign.

"The dynamic is very different from the catamarans. IT's a great challenge, which from a competitive standpoint, I really enjoy the challenge of learning what the boat is all about and how she behaves," he added.

"You learn the hard way at times", he says in the voice-over for the capsize sequence. "But it is very rewarding when things start to come together."

While the team are careful to blur out any speed or performance instrumentation, Barker says "the speeds are pretty phenomenal. I think with the AC75 we are going to see some exciting action."

The team has not disclosed speeds except that they are expected to be three or four times windspeed when reaching and slightly less on the upwind leg.

The 38fter is the longest surrogate boat allowed by the Protocol governing the 36th America's Cup.

While there are long sequences with the crew being interviewed, equally there is some lengthy, high definition video of the Mule or AM38 as she is alternatively known, sailing in moderate winds off Florida.

Included in the sequence is some video of the AM38 capsizing. The reason for the capsize is not entirely clear and almost happens in slow-motion.

While the incident would be terminal in a racing situation, in that it would be surprising if the other competitor were not able to go on to win the race, it is not in the same league as Emirates Team New Zealand's nosedive and capsize in the Semi-Finals of the 2017 America's Cup Regatta in Bermuda.

Contrary to what was claimed when the AC75 concept was first launched the AM38 - designed as a near half-scale AC75 - doesn't self right. In an earlier interview published in Sail-World, skipper Terry Hutchinson said that the team had to bring in chase boats and physically right the capsized yacht which just lays on its side. In the image above the windward (port) carbon foil arm is in the raised position- to assist righting both are lowered.

There are none of the spectacular leaps from the crew as was evidenced in the pitchpoling, and capsizing, of the much beamier AC72 and AC50 wingsailed catamarans used in the America's Cup stages in the Ellison era.

With the first of the America's Cup World Series regattas pushed back from October 2019 to April 2020, the need to launch AC75's has also shifted by six months, however most are expected to only delay by half that amount of time. Regardless the move by NYYC American Magic to launch a half-size AC75, would seem, in hindsight to have been a worthwhile move, as has the move from Newport RI to Pensacola, Fl for a winter training camp. "Pensacola has been amazing," says bowman Nick Dana. "It has exceeded all our expectations we had no idea that it was going to be 5nm straight across, and free of obstructions, with flat water and plenty of breeze. Everyone was very pleasantly surprised."

"We've got a huge list of things to work our way through," said helmsman Dean Barker. "with a new class and new concept, almost every day there has been something to learn. It has been really valuable for the team as a whole to go through the process of getting the boat on the water every day. We get the good part, which is to go and sail her. It's a lot of fun, and the conditions here in Pensacola have been fantastic."

Dana says it is his first time foiling on a boat larger than a Moth. "For me it is an unreal experience -a lot softer than I am used to. A lot smoother ride. And a lot faster. It's pretty cool what you can do in 10kts and flat water."

The video also shows the Mule going through a foiling tack and foiling gybe, with the foiling arms being lowered and raised almost imperceptibly. Significantly the AM38 remains relatively level during the tacks and gybes, without the heel that would normally occur in a monohulled keelboat of this size.

The only surprising aspect of the video is the amount of camber carried in the foot of the mainsail which is carried at almost its most inboard setting - whether that is genuine or for the benefit of other teams watch the video, is not clear.

The foot of the headsail also carries a deep camber.

The crew are all contained almost bunker-like within deck cut-out cockpits with all working gear and winches being close at hand.

In many regards the deck layout is reasonably conventional compared to the earlier AC50 and AC72 catamarans. The AM38 uses a boom to control the clew of the mainsail - which is optional in the AC75 class rule.

From the sea-state it would appear that the breeze is about 10kts, with the boat staying foil-borne quite easily in the video. Lift off speed is expected to be 7-8kts, when the AC75 is expected to use the Code Zero to build up to foil speed, before furling and stowing that sail to reduce drag.

The Code Zero is not seen - even furled - in the video.

The first AC75's are expected to be launched and sailed at the end of next month, and in July.

About New York Yacht Club American Magic

Formed in October 2017 by Bella Mente Racing, Quantum Racing and the New York Yacht Club, American Magic brings together two highly successful racing programs with one of the foremost yacht clubs in the world. The team represents a shared vision of launching a campaign for the 36th America's Cup competition, reconnecting the American sailing base with sailing's premier event and elevating the quality of competitive sailing in the United States.

American Magic will develop and support a team that will participate in the America's Cup competition, the Prada Cup and the America's Cup World Series events that lead up to both. American Magic’s Official Innovation Partner is Airbus. Other partnerships include Official Apparel Sponsor Helly Hansen and Official Control Systems Sponsor Parker Hannifin. American Magic is a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

About the New York Yacht Club

The New York Yacht Club was founded in 1844 when nine New York yachtsmen met aboard John Cox Stevens' yacht and a year later its original clubhouse was built in Hoboken, N.J. The Club's Annual Regatta was first run in 1845. The Club was the keeper of the America's Cup from 1851 to 1983, and it organized the first transatlantic race in 1866. The Club maintains two exquisite clubhouses, on 44th Street in the heart of New York City, known for its Model Room and extensive nautical library, and Harbour Court in Newport, R.I., which annually hosts some of North America's most prestigious sailing events, including the Annual Regatta, Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex, the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup and the Queen's Cup.

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