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Cup Spy Dec 1: American Magic caught short by softer breeze

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 2 Dec 2022 00:28 PST 2 December 2022
Patriot - AC75 - December 1, 2022 - Pensacola, Fl © Paul Todd/America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - December 1, 2022:

  • American Magic was back on the water in Pensacola with a lighter breeze of 6-7kts and had another good session in flat water.
  • Luna Rossa has resumed sailing after dropping their mast while rigging, and being out of action for three weeks. However they seem to be making good progress with their LEQ12.
  • INEOS Britannia stayed ashore in Mallorca - they have a rules battle going over their use of an instrumented towing pole (see yesterday's report).
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing is back in the shed for an upgrade - was expected out at the end of November.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand did not sail again while their AC40/LEQ12 is repaired following a catastrophic nosedive in mid-November.

American Magic - AC75 Version 2 - Pensacola - December 1, 2022

American Magic had a lengthy five and a half hour day on the water, albeit in lighter winds than expected.

The wind dropped as the day progressed, but in hindsight the team made the wrong mainsail choice, expecting stronger winds, and had to make do with the smaller sail area. In the light conditions, they could only manage four self take-offs and 13 tow-ups.

Patriot started the session sailing on their J2 jib - which only lasted for just over 30 minutes, when it was switched for the bigger J1, which was used for the rest of the day. A second J1 was hoisted , but not used.

The recon team reported that Patriot was on foil a combined total of almost 90 minutes, mostly comprised of 3-9 minute sessions - with the longest single foiling instance lasting 19 minutes.

Patriot sailed approximately 55nm on six windward and return legs, which is a good effort considering. The only breakdown was from a small hydraulic problem which took only a few minutes to fix.

Prior to dockout, the breeze was reported at 18kts but dropped away to just 7kts - just above the minimum wind limit for racing in the America's Cup.

The telling statistic of the day is the 13 tow-ups - underlining the need to get the sail selection right and the wind forecasts accurate.

For the other America's Cup competitors, the circumstances and statistics show that despite being put into the lighter configuration for Version 2 of the AC75 class rule, there is not a lot of wriggle room left at the bottom end of the wind range. With the wrong mainsail choice, we could see one team unable to get foil-borne, while the other scoots away at speeds of 25-28kts.

When foiling the Joint Recon team reported Patriot clocking upwind speeds of 28kts and downwind of 30kts plus - which are the benchmark numbers for these conditions.

As helmsman Tom Slingsby confirmed in the dockside interview, there was a lot of talking and visits from the coachboat. Slingsby's line was that given they had been caught out badly by the conditions, they opted to get their processes right, and talking through the manoevres in the marginal conditions.

"The breeze was a little lighter than we were expecting," Slingsby explained after the session. "We were hoping that there would be 10 to 12 knots for the whole day. But unfortunately, it was probably less than 10kts."

"I think the light air main would have been better, but we decided to go with the smaller main. When we first hit the water, we had 15-16 knots of breeze. And we went with the smaller #1 main. We kept talking about coming home - whether to go in and get the other one. But in the end, we just stuck with a small main. The big one would have been better, for sure."

Slingsby, is one of several in the team learning how to sail AC75's. "The hardest part, I guess is just learning," he said. "I guess the crossovers where the boat can do it foiling manoeuvre and where it can't, and what angles the boat likes to come out of manoeuvres.

"For me, I'm learning how to take the boat off and out of the water. It's a bit different to a catamaran you don't have the same stability with the AC75. It's a matter of getting the balance right, proper sail trim and foil lift, and how to get to your takeoff speed as quick as possible."

The Olympic Gold medalist and SailGP champion revealed the way ahead for the American Magic team.

They will sail every day from now until Christmas. "That's really just a training block where we don't have too many new things coming online. I think it's mainly just a crew training block. We need to train a lot of people, myself included, and learn how to sail these boats well."

"Then when we get two AC 40s we can man both boats with guys who can fly the boat, and trim and steer.

"You might see as head out offshore as well, soon. The plan is to get out in some waves - probably next week, we might look at getting into that."

Session Statistics - Pensacola, Fl - December 1, 2022 - American Magic - AC75 Version 2

  • Wind Strength 9kts (AM) 7kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: N(AM) N (PM)
  • Sea State: <1ft (AM) <1ft (PM)
  • Roll out: 0915hrs Dock Out: 1032hrs
  • Dock In: 1600hrs Crane out: 1630hrs
  • Total Tacks: 23 - Fully foiling: 12; Touch & Go:2; Touch Down: 9
  • Total Gybes: 11 - Fully foiling: 7; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 3

    Crew: Paul Goodison, Tom Slingsby, Andrew Campbell/Michael Menninger, Lucas Calabrese, Colton Hall/John Croom, Cooper Dressler/Terry Hutchinson were observed in various positions

    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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