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Cup Spy Dec 14: American Magic's Patriot capsizes after picking up debris on rudder

by Richard Gladwell/ 14 Dec 2022 20:14 PST 11 December 2022
American Magic - Patriot - AC75 - December 14, 2022 - Pensacola, Florida © Paul Todd/America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - Dec 14, 2022:

  • American Magic sailed in a 90 minute session which started moderate winds recorded at 14-17kts. They stayed inside Pensacola Bay. Patriot capsized after picking up some debris on her rudder, causing a slow capsize and was righted inside five minutes. It is said there is no damage.
  • Luna Rossa remained ashore in Cagliari.
  • INEOS Britannia remained ashore .
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing went into the shed in Barcelona on November 16 for upgrades and is yet to emerge
  • Emirates Team New Zealand are repairing their AC40/LEQ20 after a violent nosedive on November 21. We were told they expected to sail at the end of the week - however is stuck in an adverse weather pattern.

American Magic - AC75 Version 2 - Pensacola - December 14, 2022 - Day 24

American Magic's AC75 Patriot capsized today on Pensacola Bay, after a collision with a UFO (Underwater Floating Object). The AC75 was sailing to windward on starboard tack. The cause was later found to be a plastic bag around a rudder elevator. "It stalled the boat, and it went in to windward," explained Sailing Director, Terry Hutchinson. The capsize was slow.

The team were 90 minutes into the practice session, at the time of the incident. Patriot had been sailing very well - and fast, as would be expected from an AC75, sailing in near ideal conditions.

The AC37 Recon Team reported that they recorded Patriot, an upgraded Version 1 AC75 sailing at speeds in the mid-30kts upwind and low-40kts downwind.

As the first AC75 to be sailing in a configuration close to that allowed under Version 2 of the AC75 class rule, Patriot features many of the new developments permitted under the new rule, and has impressed many commentators. Three of the entered Cup teams have not sailed for almost a month.

Today American Magic has sailed for 24 days, and appears to be performing very well, which must come as a huge relief to the team, club and backers after their untimely exit from the 2021 America's Cup regatta.

In Auckland they were caught in a sudden rainsquall on Day 3 of the Prada Cup. The AC75 went airborne during a gybe. capsized, and was holed and nearly sank. Patriot was physically repaired but suffered a lot of system damage and was unable to get into racing trim by the time of the Parda Cup Semi-Finals.

Today's capsize appears to be a very minimal incident, by comparison. There was some residual issues the following day with water ingress into systems.

Currently American Magic are in a process of crew training/induction and testing new components.Today they had a rudder fitted which had been built for Auckland which will be compared to the rudder used to date.

Conditions on Pensacola Bay were ideal for fast AC75 sailing with a 14-17kt breeze and flat water. The AC37 Recon team reported that Patriot sailed approximately 34nm in 90 minutes, foiling for 65 minutes, on a course comprising 12 W/L legs.

The New York Yacht Club's entry in the 2024 America's Cup completed 17 gybes and 17 tacks and only touched the surface of Pensacola Bay in one of the 34 manoeuvres - 97% success rate. Two of the world's top foiling skippers, Olympic Gold medalists, Paul Goodison and Tom Slingsby were co-helming today.

The recon chase boat reported Patriot was hitting 34kts upwind and 41kts downwind - which are fast, but would normally have been expected to 5kts faster upwind and a similar amount downwind.

Patriot was towed back to her base after the incident. Sailing Director, Terry Hutchinson said he expected the AC75 to be sailing tomorrow, Thursday.

"We had a we had a bit of a hold this morning because of the weather," Hutchinson said in a dockside interview immediately after the incident.

"Chris Bedford and his team did an awesome job of getting us into a nice little spot where we could get Patriot out and in some reasonably up range conditions and do some laps around Pensacola Bay.

"It was just an awesome day. It's great to see the guys out in the top end conditions."

Hutchinson told the AC37 Recon Team that Patriot was sailing upwind on starboard tack when they hit an underwater object, which he described initially as a "submerged board".

"As we know here in Pensacola, when it rains a lot things flow out of the out of the rivers. They hit a basically hit a log in the water and it stalled the boat and the boat rolled over to windward."

"There was no harm to anybody," he added.

His advice was changed the following day after a debrief, when he advise that a plastic bag had become wrapped around the rudder elevator. There is no video available of the capsize occurrence.

Today Patriot was sporting a new rudder, however Hutchinson said it was one the team had in their arsenal in Auckland, but hadn't used.

When asked to elaborate all Hutchinson would say was "it's black and shiny. It has an elevator on it. It was a rudder that we had used in Auckland and hadn't declared yet. So we're looking at the crossovers between the existing rudders."

Hutchinson couldn't/wouldn't comment on whether the new foil was a gain over the previous model - saying he hadn't seen any performance data on the rudder.

He had a similar slightly flippant response when questioned as to how he saw the NYYC American Magic team "lining up against other teams that we would have raced tomorrow or a year and a half?"

"I think height wise were a little bit shorter," Hutchinson grinned. "Strength wise, we don't know yet!"

"I think in August through September, October of 2024 [the dates of the 37th America's Cup]. We'll have a pretty good answer to that question!"

American Magic has just come off four days of non-sailing which included two days of the weekend.

"In the non sailing periods, obviously there's a lot to catch up on," Hutchinson explained. "There's boat maintenance, there's sailor development in the simulator. You take every opportunity that you have to catch up on all the things that you don't do, when the team is on the water day in and day out."

"So there's a lot of basically a lot of meetings catching up on systems details and and design details and and sailing details."

One of the frequent questions in the dockside interviews with all teams is to have an explanation of what happens during tacks and gybes with the two co-helmsmen not crossing the boat. Today Hutchinson gave a coherent answer.

"It's pretty simple," he explained. "The there's a countdown to the tack. There's a countdown as boat goes into the tack. The helmsmen initiates the board (foil) drop, they turn the boat. The new helmsmen steps in hits a button, and the old board (foil) comes up."

"What you see on days like today, with the race laps is that the teams are working on those communications and handoffs in between the co-helmsman."

American Magic is expected to be sailing again tomorrow, Thursday.

Session Statistics - Pensacola - December 14, 2022 - American Magic - AC75 V1.5

  • Wind Strength 14-17kts (AM) 14-17kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: S (AM) S (PM)
  • Sea State: 1-2ft (AM) 1ft(PM)
  • Roll out: 1100hrs Dock Out: 1156hrs
  • Dock In: 1600hrs Crane out: 1635hrs
  • Total Tacks: 17 - Fully foiling: 16; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 17 - Fully foiling: 17; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Tom Slingsby, Paul Goodison, Riley Gibbs, Andrew Campbell, Colton Hall, Madison, Ethan, Lucas Calabrese

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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