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America's Cup: AC75 designs and campaigns critiqued by a competitor and independent designer

by Tip&Shaft/Sail-World.com/nz 1 Mar 2020 18:48 PST 2 March 2020
American Magic - Pensacola - New York Yacht Club - America's Cup - February 2020 © Will Ricketson/NYYC

Two technical commentaries have appeared in the sailing media over the past few days taking a look at the AC75 designs, the campaigns and their nuances.

American Magic suppliers Helly Hansen took a very small media group behind the curtain in Pensacola, Florida to see the winter training base of American Magic. Tip & Shaft's Andi Robertson spoke with Skipper/CEO Terry Hutchinson,

First up Hutchinson was asked to evaluate their position against the other teams:

"It was interesting to see Luna Rossa is a very science driven boat with incredibly small foils. Team New Zealand is the exact opposite. Team New Zealand has very big foils. It was exciting from a competitor perspective to see Team New Zealand launch with asymmetric foils, a flat one on one side and a anhedral one on the other side, that tells you their science is not 100 percent sure. And it tells you the simulator is not so good and you also would not build a mule.

"Team New Zealand are the most polished, outside of us, on doing laps. But their foils were incredibly big. I am excited to see that fact in the second half of New Zealand's training they have been on smaller foils, they start coming towards us and it will be interesting to see what Luna Rossa do, but it is good to see people coming towards you."

On time on the water by INEOS Team UK:

"Since we have launched the boat, of 95 potential sailing days we have had 32 sailing days," Hutchinson told Tip & Shaft.

"INEOS have had roughly 135 days or 140 days available and have sailed 15 days. They have moved all their stuff down to Cagliari and then they go there to sail and then go back to England and take ten days off. And now they are at SailGP which I can get to, I understand, it is high speed racing it is race practice".

Hutchinson echoes the lines expressed previously by INEOS Team UK's Ben Ainslie, saying that Luna Rossa and Emirates Team NZ got a jump on the other teams by having the class rules for seven months longer than the rest of the Challengers. They both went in a different design direction with a skiff concept rather than the scow favoured by INEOS Team UK and American Magic with the first boat Defiant.

"Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand are the two teams on top as they really have had the rule for seven months longer because they wrote the rule, they knew what was going into it," Hutchinson told Tip & Shaft

"We basically got it [the class rule] in February 18 and by August we were delivering lines after the rule got locked in on June 30th. It is interesting to see the hulls and what six months of design can do for you. If I was to pick a boat out of the three, I love Defiant and she is going to do great work for us, but I can see Luna Rossa is pretty nice, aerodynamically it is very friendly and has very small foils.

"This competition is going to be won and lost in manoeuvrability and straight line performance. If we were to sail across Pensacola Bay in a straight line I probably would take the Luna Rossa boat but if we were to sail across Pensacola Bay and in 40 seconds have to do a manoeuvre then 100 per cent I would take Defiant every day of the week."

"Now the team which can shed all the drag and get rid of everything will be very hard to beat. But you have to be able to get up on the foil and you have to make sure you can manoeuvre and stay on the foil and remember the wind limit is 6.5kts at the bottom that is a big number (in terms of importance). " "Knowing that number and Luna Rossa I will bet my life that they're next set of foils are significantly bigger."

Hutchinson says American Magic have been clocking up some long hours on the water and are getting a high percentage of sailing days out of the calendar.

"If we get 50 per cent of sailing out of six hours on the water that is a good day," he explained when asked to quantify a good sailing day. "Our best day here is a 78 miles day inside six miles by two miles. That is a lot of foiling. We had two days in a row that we did over 140 miles, and days like these are incredibly valuable."

New Zealander Dean Barker was with Team New Zealand for four campaigns before making way before starting a new team, Softbank Team Japan in 2017. Barker and Hutchinson were skipper and tactician respectively for the 2007 America's Cup aboard Team New Zealand. How is the new relationship going onboard the foiling monohull, along with other crew Andrew Campbell (USA) and Paul Goodison (UK)?

"Where is hits me most with Dean is like last week were out sailing across the Bay ripping along on port tack and he says 'stand by to bear off' and I am standing by my pedestal and the windspeed is at 26 and a half knots and I look over and think 'this is going to be interesting...' I am thinking about my 'exit strategy off the boat, and Dean says 'bearing away in 3,2,1....' The bow comes down and we go careening off across the Bay at 55 miles an hour and he is laughing, Andrew (Campbell, flight controller) and Goody (Paul Goodison, main trimmer) is laughing. That is the component of experience, a level you know nothing is going to affect him on the day."

"Dean was a known, Goody and Andrew were the unknowns and they are both in respective roles – Goody is three times Moth World Champion, Gold Medallist and an incredibly talented sailor but what you see developing in his skill set here is way beyond what you ever expected. And Andrew is the same. He is the quiet Saxon, he stands up day in day out flies the boat and is complete flat line. He has such responsibility but takes it on to the nth degree. That side is incredibly exciting."

For the full interview from the Tip & Shaft newsletter click here

To subscribe to the weekly English language newsletter from Tip and Shaft (a reference to the two parts of a foiling dagger board) click here

For a further analysis of the four AC75 designs, published in Sailing World by designer Scott Fergusson, who was with Oracle Team USA for the last three America's Cup campaigns click here. The analysis is very good but needs to be read in its entirety.

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