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Pensacola, Florida scores big with American Magic

by Talbot Wilson 17 May 2019 06:56 PDT

CEO/skipper Terry Hutchinson has revealed that the New York Yacht Club American Magic team, a challenger for the 36th America's Cup defence, will be coming back to Pensacola for a second winter training program on Pensacola Bay in November. That's a big score for Pensacola.

This was fresh news to most in the audience at the National Naval Aviation Museum for an afternoon presentation on Tucker Thompson's America's Cup tour, although the plan to return to Pensacola in October was a well kept secret around the famous Blue Bar at Pensacola Yacht Club. The news brought a big round of applause.

Now everybody knows American Magic is coming back to their Port of Pensacola winter base in late October. Like last winter, they should begin sailing in November.

Hutchinson said that both AC75 #1, which should be testing in Newport in August and AM38, the MULE, will be sailing on Pensacola Bay until AC75 #1 ships out for Italy at a springtime 2020 date TBD. He said, "The local community here has been unbelievably supportive of what we are doing. Of any place we could have gone in the country, the only thing that happened here is that everyone says 'Yes'.... The bay is an untapped resource for sailing."

American Magic's plan to return to Pensacola next winter is big news for Cup fans worldwide. The activity Pensacola Bay will be intense as all the sailing world watches. Eyes of sailors around the world will focus on Pensacola.

How did this happen to Pensacola? Three Pensacola YC sailing committee members... Talbot Wilson, Tom Pace and Hal Smith... invited the Magic team to Pensacola to make the keynote address to the young Optimist Dinghy sailors at the opening ceremony of the US Optimist Dinghy Association National Championship last summer. They came and they put on a great show in Pensacola's historic Saenger Theater for 300+ young sailors, their coaches and families and local sailors... a total audience of close to a thousand.

The team leaders saw Pensacola Bay and downtown Pensacola, Pensacola Beach and Pensacola YC. They were impressed. We invited them and their team to train here. A few weeks later after Dr. Jim Andrews, a former America's Cup challenger himself, reached out to the team principal backers Hutchinson told us they were interested in revisiting Pensacola.

As ambassadors for Pensacola, we facilitated successful meetings between three team leaders, the city and the port. We showed the team several potential sites for a base, and they settled on the Port of Pensacola, the site we recommended.

Our persistence paid off. Pensacola welcomed American Magic to their winter home, the wind gods cooperated and American Magic is coming back for their second winter.

Meanwhile, national and regional sailing championships are coming to Pensacola via Pensacola Yacht Club for 2019-2020.

July 13-18 Pensacola YC will host the Flying Scot North American Championship. This is a family-friend-fun oriented class, but still very competitive. There is a Youth Championship, too. We expect 50 boats with 3-person crews. That's over 200 adults in Pensacola for a week.

November 16-17, Pensacola YC will host the Melges24 Atlantic and Gulf Coast Championship. This class has a 3-4 person crew. The boats are fast and exciting so it is not your grandfather's regatta. We expect 40-50 boats again. That will be over 200 more adult visitors, about 150 sailors.

June 19-24 in 2020, Pensacola YC will host the US Sailing Youth National championships. There are six classes: i420, Laser, Laser Radial, 29er, Nacra15, and Techno 293 windsurfer. These are all exciting boats for under-18 sailors. The event will be the qualifier for the 2020 Youth Worlds in Brazil. 200 young sailors, plus families and coaches will be here.

And there is more to come.

Class Event Managers have discovered that Pensacola Bay is the best sailing venue in North America and maybe the world. American Magic coming here, like the USODA Nationals we hosted last summer, has helped showcase Pensacola.

This summer we also have the annual Gulfport to Pensacola Race and our annual Junior Olympic Sailing Festival July 29-30. In November, we are hosting our biennial Pace Challenge Cup ocean race. This year it is from Pensacola to St Petersburg.

It's no secret any more. Sailors can catch the magic in Pensacola.

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