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Cup Spy Jan 05 : American Magic shifts focus towards Barcelona

by Richard Gladwell/ 6 Jan 03:29 PST 6 January 2023
American Magic - Patriot - AC75 - January 5, 2023 - Pensacola, Florida © Paul Todd/America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - Jan 05, 2023:

  • American Magic sailed on the Gulf of Mexico in their third foray onto ocean conditions - with winds gusting to 16kts, but only 2-3ft seas.
  • K-Challenge (France) - nothing more to report officially or unofficially, at this stage.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand not expected to start until January 16. A major storm continues in Auckland through to Saturday, with more promised for the following week.
  • Luna Rossa had their final sail on December 20, in Cagliari, Sardinia, in a good session before the wind dropped. Radio silence since.
  • INEOS Britannia went sailing on January 6 in a solid session, off Mallorca, report to follow.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing still in shed.

American Magic - AC75 Version 2 - Pensacola - January 5, 2023 - Day 29

Patriot sailed offshore today, covering approximately 70 nm, comprising of 14 windward/leeward legs. Main point of interest was how the AC75 performed on the open ocean in Barcelona like conditions.

The AC37 Recon team reported the sea-state as 2-3ft, which is approaching the 0.8metre wave height - which Luna Rossa's Sailing Director Max Sirena described as the top end for their LEQ12 - a half size AC75, of which American Magic's Patriot is only one of two AC75's currently sailing.

A seaway of 2-3ft should have been well within Patriot's capabilities - given that many of its crew are on their second AC campaign in the foiling monohulls. Future outings by Patriot on the Gulf of Mexico will be followed with interest to understand what the upper limit of the swell size, is for an AC75 sailed by an experienced America's Cup crew.

There was only 45 seconds of foiling video available from this session. It is not enough from which to draw any real conclusions.

There is no evidence on the video of any substantial sea-state, other than a wind chop, and a slight cross-swell.

There are some still and video highlights shots of the AC75 catching its foil arms in the Gulf waters, but this is normal in the conditions. They did 17 water-starts, being able to self-launch onto its foils without any towing assistance. Again this is normal for this wind-strength.

American Magic did 10 dry tacks and 6 dry gybes - again an expected outcome for a crew and boat of this standard. There were two touch downs in gybes, however this is unusual in this windstrength. Gybing is the quicker and faster maneuver - and nothing should be read into this statistic.

Five headsails were loaded into the support RIB, only two - a J#2 and J#3 were used.

Sailing began at 11:43, the team completed 18 maneuvers and ended sailing at 15:31. Patriot had a total flying time of 126 Minutes. Top speeds were approximately 32kts upwind/ 38kts downwind according to the RIB GPS. The AC37 Recon team reported that "the majority of today's session comprised long up/down wind legs with fewer maneuvers. One of today's legs was upwards of 5nm, briefly crossing the state line into Alabama waters. At one point the wind was against the tide, near the pass, resulting in a confused seastate atop the swell."

"It was difficult for the RIB to keep pace with Patriot, especially upwind. The crew attended to the port foil for approximately 10 minutes, although no damage was sustained. Patriot is not expected to roll out tomorrow."

Andrew Campbell is a flight controller aboard American Magic's Patriot, he performed a similar role in the Prada Cup for the team in the 2021 America's Cup, and with the US SailGP team sailing F50 foiling wingsailed catamarans.

"We had an amazing day offshore today. We've prioritised making sure we're in conditions that look like Barcelona, and outside of Pensacola Bay, is about as good as we can get. "

Campbell says they are still determining how close the conditions on the Gulf of Mexico are to the Mediterranean Sea off Barcelona, the venue for the 2024 America's Cup.

"That's for us to find out. It gives us a little more bump and gives us that random sea state that we'll probably see in Barcelona."

"There's a lot going on with the systems, the sail plan, and the foils all the time. Anytime we go out sailing, we're learning, and always through the lens of a new venue."

There seems to have been a shift in focus in the American Magic game plan starting in 2023, and expect to see the New York Yacht Club team do most of its sailing on the open ocean.

"Any chance we get to go and be in a venue here that looks as close as it's going to be for the Match, that's ideal for us. So, now we frame our day of sailing so that the priority is to go into a sea state that looks more similar to what we think it'd be like in the Mediterranean.

Once again, today, there were issues with the port foil arm, or foil control system (FCS), which caused a stoppage of around 10 minutes.

Campbell explains the FCS issues away as "nothing abnormal, no more than any normal stuff that happens on a day of sailing. These boats get pushed pretty hard. They are performance-oriented and have to be reliable enough to get us around the racetrack and race. They have to be pushed to the edge, but now we are not pushing the performance envelope. So there is nothing beyond what we would normally see."

On specific issues with the port foil arm, Campbell said the problem lay at the point where the supplied foil arms intersected with the team-designed and built wing foils.

"That's a constant state of consternation for us. We're always looking for ways to figure that out and looking at those intersections, making sure everything looks right.

"That's a high priority for us. So no epiphanies on how we're going to make that work yet. We're always looking for good solutions," he adds.

Asked to compare the flight control operation between running inshore to offshore, Campbell responded: "In short, here [Pensacola], like in Auckland, is a millpond. It's a flat and generally a pretty easy place to go sailing - from a flight control perspective.

"But when the sea state gets added on top of that, you're dealing with a whole another animal. And when a sea state [cross-swell] occurs like today where it was off centre, or off-axis, it's pretty challenging for anybody doing flight control."

"So we're learning it all over again every time we go out."

"Every time we go out there, we're learning something. So it's a big priority for us. We see Alinghi in the Match venue, and that's a good motivation for us to go out and hack into it.

"We see Luna Rossa going out in bigger sea states, and we know that we need to be kind of prepared for that and be ready when we get to the Mediterranean.

Session Statistics - Pensacola - January 5, 2023 - American Magic - AC75 V1.5
  • Wind Strength 12-16 (AM) 13-8kts (PM) (not supported by camera metadata which indicates more wind in the afternoon than the morning)
  • Wind Direction: NW (AM) NW (PM)
  • Sea State: 2-3ft (AM) 2-3ft (PM)
  • Roll out: 0915hrs Dock Out: 1040hrs
  • Dock In: 1615hrs Crane out: 1650hrs
  • Total Tacks: 10 - Fully foiling: 10; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 8 - Fully foiling: 6; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 2

Crew: Paul Goodison, Riley Gibbs, Lucas Calabrese, Andrew Campbell, Dan Morris, Michael Menninger, Colten Hall, Trevor Burd, Tim Hornsby, Terry Hutchinson

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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