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Cup Spy Nov 23: American Magic trials new main and makes big gain

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 23 Nov 18:07 PST 24 November 2022
The Pensacola Bay wild-life check out American Magic's Patriot - AC75 - November 22, 2022 - Pensacola, Fl © Paul Todd/America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - November 23, 2022:

  • American Magic was the only team to sail, fitting a new mainsail for a five hour session on the water in Pensacola, Florida
  • INEOS Britannia stayed ashore in Majorca after doing a single tow test, six days ago.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing is back in the shed for an upgrade - not expected to emerge until the end of November.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand did not sail, their AC40/LEQ12 was badly damaged in a nosedive late last week, and their second AC40 is expected next week.
  • Luna Rossa dropped the mast off their LEQ12, on November 6, they tow tested with sensors on one foil on Monday, and will be off the water for another week.

American Magic - AC75 Version 2 - Pensacola - November 23, 2022 - Day 17

American Magic made further gains on the other four teams contesting the 37th America's Cup, with another strong day on Pensacola Bay, sailing in light winds with a newly recut, and larger mainsail.

The New York Yacht Club's team is the only team to be sailing an AC75, modified to suit Version 2 of the AC75 Class rule, and sailing with cyclors instead of grinders.

The team is expected to have been able to reduce the weight to, or towards, the new lighter AC75 class weight limit - altered with a view to making it easier for the AC75's to foil in lighter winds.

Patriot will head into Thanksgiving on Thursday, remembering not only the sacrifices and efforts of their forebears, but with a rightful degree of self-satisfaction after reflecting key decisions that have been made, which have given the US team the jump on the other four teams.

Sailing in winds right at the bottom of the starting range for America's Cup racing, American Magic was able to self-start 15 of 17 times - requiring a tow out on only two occasions. That's an 88% success rate. Tack Gybe statistics were equally impressive in the conditions. Ten tacks - 6 dry, 2 touch and go - that's an 80% success rate. Ten Gybes - 5 dry and 1 touch and go - that's still a 60% success rate. Given that gybing is usually the easier maneuver of the two the 60% stat is more of a positioning on the course, and picking the pressure, than some serious deficiency on the boat.

But more of this in a "Cup Critiqued" commentary to be published in Sail-World later today.

"We had a another good day here in Pensacola," skipper Paul Goodison told the AC37 Joint Recon team after the five hour session in light winds and flat water. ""We've got a new mainsail set up that's slightly bigger one than the other mainsail. So it took us a little bit of time to put that up, make sure it all fitted. And then luckily the breeze came in kind of just as, as we'd expected with the forecast, and we managed to get a good couple of hours that sailing around."

The objective of Wednesday's session was to measure whether Patriot for be able to self-foil more easily in marginal conditions than was possible with the initial mainsail.

Both sails were recut to accommodate the shift from a boomed mainsail system used on Patriot in the 2021 America's Cup, to the boomless, clew sheeted style used by Emirates Team New Zealand in the last America's Cup. "I think we only had to sail up [onto the foils] twice today, which was obviously much different from what we've been doing. Doing so far. So it's quite successful day," Goodison added.

American Magic are the first team to switch to cyclors to pressure up the onboard hydraulic systems used to drive the sail and wingfoil flap controls. Wednesday was the first opportunity for the US team to check-in as to whether a crew that had reduced from 11 in the last Cup to eight in the 2024 edition, could generate enough grunt to run the boat.

Goodison gave that box a big tick, too.

"The cyclists, have got to work very hard to get the boat out of the water," Goodison explained. "Obviously, once you're up and foiling in the lighter breeze there's less load in the boat. So the the tensions don't need to go anywhere near as high as when it's breezy. So they only have to reach half the pressures of probably what they would do when it's a windy day. So straight line, it's probably a bit easier. But getting out of the water and doing manoeuvres obviously very difficult."

The workload is a reference to needing to have the double skin mainsail grunted up, to to develop the lift needed to get the AC75 to lift-off speed (around 16-18kts), and then tension and flatten off the both mainsails once foil-borne, to reduce drag and change to a shape more suitable for sailing at three to four times wind speed, or 28kts of boat speed in 7kts of true windspeed. The same flattening adjustments must be made to the jib (and mainsails), as it tries to transition from operating in a true windspeed of 7kts to an apparent windspeed of 35kts. Plus the wingfoil flaps, and what the class rule calls "control surfaces" must also be controlled/altered by "power supplied by the crew".

The session was broken periodically for crew changes and the like. Goodison explained they were "cycling through several new guys and new positions on the boat".

He noted that "straight out of the box, it's [the mainsail] probably not quite where we want it to be, because we need to make quite a few adjustments to the sail so we can go again, and make some progress."

The only casualty of the day was a broken mainsail batten - which was removed.

Sailing rockstar Tom Slingsby, who looks set to take out his third successive SailGP Season title, re-joins the team after the Thanksgiving break.

Session Statistics - Pensacola, Fl - November 18, 2022 - American Magic - AC75 Version 2

Crew: Riley Gibbs, Paul Goodison, Lucas Calibrese, Andrew Campbell, Trevor Burd, Dan Morris. Power Team: John Croom, Coulton Hall

Additional Images

This commentary was written and compiled from video, still images and statistical content extracted from the AC37 Joint Recon program and other material available to Sail-World NZ including photo files, and other on the water coverage from the 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2021 America's Cups.

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