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Cup Spy Jan 11 : American Magic makes new move

by Richard Gladwell/ 12 Jan 05:04 PST 13 January 2023
American Magic - Patriot - AC75 - January11, 2023 - Pensacola, Florida © Paul Todd/America's Cup

Four of the six teams entered in the 2024 America's Cup took to the water today in Barcelona, Mallorca, Cagliari and Pensacola.

A new track across the cockpit on American Magic's Patriot, triggered speculation amongst commentators. However it would seem that the track was part of a new mainsheet/outhaul setup being trialled by American Magic to tidy up the mainsail clew area.

The track, which has attracted a lot of curiosity, was not installed when the US team packed up for the Xmas break. It was in place when the team resumed sailing on January 4, but was car-less.

What happened in the Cup - January 11, 2023:

  • INEOS Britannia had their fourth and easily the best sail to date in their LEQ12 sailing out of Mallorca, with the prototype boat being able to self launch in the conditions 12-13kt breeze, however this aspect of their performance is not quick or crisp. There was a mild sea state, which appeared to cause some grief, compounded by the Brits trying to fly as close to the sea surface as possible, while others seem to prefer a higher flight height.
  • American Magic managed to get offshore, and onto the Gulf of Mexico, and covered about 60nm. There was a more substantial sea state, which caused some pitching during setup, however there was insufficient video available to be able to assess performance. Patriot fitted a new, secondary track on the cockpit floor, at least a day earlier, which just appears to be carrying an upgraded mainsheet/outhaul system aimed at tidying the air flows off the lower metre or so of the mainsail. The centre ram has been removed, and a new system deployed (see before and after images in story below).
  • Emirates Team New Zealand are not expected to sail until January 16, debris permitting after a couple of weeks of stormy weather.
  • Luna Rossa had a good day off Cagliari, foiling fast and easily in relatively flat water.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing emerged from the shed, rigged up and was launched. Although they towed out onto the testing area and the mainsail was hoisted for 30 minutes, in calm windless conditions before being dropped after 30 minutes, and the swiss towed home.
  • No further developments from the late entry French K-Challenge

INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Mallorca - January 11, 2022 - Day 10

The British team sailed for fourth day in their LEQ12, or prototype yacht, used as a test platform for the development of their AC75 race boat.

Top international sailing journalist, Justin Chisholm, is a member of the AC37 Recon Team assigned to monitor and report on INEOS Britannia. Here's his observations after following the British team for the session:

  • Despite a forecast of sub 10 knot winds for the day in Palma the British team appeared keed to get on the water as early as possible after calling for a an 0800 rollout of its T6 LEQ12.
  • Less than an hour later the mast was set up and the boat craned into the water in ultra-light winds and mirror flat conditions. Outside the harbour the wind was similarly light, necessitating a slow side tow out to the south in search of the slowly building southerly breeze.

  • Once well offshore the breeze built quickly to a solid 12 - 13 knots, although - after just a couple of self foiling runs in the west side of the Bay of Plama - the breeze became patchy and unstable in that area and the boat was towed on two foils all the way over to the east side of the bay where the breeze had filled in properly from around 220 degrees.
  • Once again, the same crew from the previous day - helmsmen Giles Scott and Ben Cornish, with trimmers/flight controllers Leigh McMillan and Bleddyn Mon - seemed comfortable to push the boat a little harder still.

  • They racked up around 41 kilometres of sailing over the day, with multiple foiling runs that took them the lenght and the breadth of Palma Bay's eastern section - including a spectacular fast fly by of a fleet of Laser sailors out on a mid bay training session.
  • Multiple foiling runs in the stronger northerly breeze on flat water - lasting between 1 and 5 minutes. Top speed estimated to be 35 knots +
  • The runs featured plenty of stable fast flying, as well as many skimming touchdowns, and a handful of major splashdowns. Following one of these splashdowns shortly before 1400 (see end of highlights video) the boat stopped head to wind and after a 10 minute wait the sails were dropped and the tow home began.
  • In our interview with Giles Scott he said there had been no damage to the boat but expected the shore crew to have a long list of items to check off tonight. None of those items can have been too serious as the team has called for another sailing day tomorrow.

In the dockside interview after the three hour training session, double Olympic Gold medalist Giles Scott emphasised that while their prototype was a scaled down AC75 (ie in line with the AC75 concept) . "T6 is effectively it's really a design tool for feeding back into into the models. It's more of a design tool than a racing yacht."

"We're trying to we're trying to push each day. And every day we go out, we're able to push that a little bit harder. "There's still a little bits and bobs, we were trying to debug but but around that, you know, we're trying to get into feeding back in and getting that good data into the design team. Because that's the primary reason that we've got this boat and we need to start start providing that information."

The winters day in balmy Malloca at 18°, produced a variety of conditions from near-zero to 12-13kts. "It's quite good here in Palma," Scott remarked. "We had South westerlies and a building sea state as well, which is, which is also quite interesting. Given given that we'll be racing in Barcelona. We had a good look at sailing around in 12 to 14 knots in in a bit of sea state too."

Scott admitted that accurate foil height was difficult in the conditions.

"It's very, it's quite difficult with the sea state to to really lock the boat in. There's a lot of work going on in control systems world and also, our skills as sailors too."

The team trained again on Thursday.

Session Statistics - Mallorca - January 11, 2023 - INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Day 10

  • Wind Strength 0-5kts(AM) 12-13kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: Northerly
  • Roll out: 0950hrs Dock Out: 1300hrs
  • Dock In: 1620hrs Crane out: 1800hrs
  • Total Tacks: 4 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 4
  • Total Gybes: 3 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 3

Crew: Giles Scott, Ben Cornish, Leigh McMillan, Bleddyn Mon

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Cagliari - January 11, 2023 - Day 20

From the AC37 Joint Recon Team: The day at the Luna Rossa base started relaxed with roll-out at 9:30, usual checks have followed and after waiting for the latest forecast update, team decided to postpone the dock out at 13:00 when the LEQ12 was finally towed out in the gulf finding the expected dream forecast.

The LEQ12 sailed in and offshore covering 69 nm with gorgeous conditions - flat waters and steady pressure. The crew pushed the LEQ12 on pace almost following a severe training schedule with ticking boxes: 35 maneuvers, running modes and test straight line sailing. With more breeze, maneuvers looked more slick and faster executed with different successful rates between SB and PS tack.

Twice there was an "unusual" flight ("broaching") observed with the LEQ12 almost fully exiting the waterline and splashing back down hull borne, seconds later it took off again.

Between some legs, a short break of 10 minutes followed with personnel polishing and changing all Go-Pros. Crew-wise there has been some switching from SB to PS between sail trimmers/ foil controllers and helms. On two occasions while heading downwind, the LEQ12 has been observed with both boards down and lifting the windward up again while heading back up.

Out of two headsails loaded on the chase boat, the J#2 has been up used throughout the whole session. The LEQ12 had a total flight time of approximately 108 minutes reaching top speeds of slightly above 40 kts on fast angles.

Helmsman Francesco Bruni, who also performed a co-helm role with Luna Rossa, said in the dockside interview that the day had been a good one. "It was a very good day with classic Mistral in Cagliari, of between seven and 15 knots. Very nice conditions."

"We had some straight line sailing, some maneuvers. We tried to split the day between testing and maneuvering - we achieved many goals. A very positive day."

"We were trying to really push the foils as much as we could today," Bruni remarked in response to a question about Luna Rossa's various modes, and particularly their emphasis on "low modes" or fast and free angles, opposed to sailing high on a close hauled course. "It was a mix of a lot of goals. It was a very good day for the team. We also changed positions of the crew, and swapped around sail and foil trimmers and helmsmen. We learned a lot today from doing that."

The moves did create some issues with tacking and gybing. "Switching the position is always very hard because you are not used to the buttons in new positions. It takes a little bit of time to get used to that. "Part of the reasons for the mistakes today is moving to the to different positions, and there is always a lot of learning going through that. The positive aspects of switching overcomes the negative."

Session Statistics - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Cagliari - January 11, 2023 - Day 22

  • Wind Strength 9-14kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: NW (PM)
  • Sea State: 2-3ft swell
  • Roll out: 0950hrs Dock Out: 1300hrs
  • Dock In: 1620hrs Crane out: 1800hrs
  • Total Tacks: 19 - Fully foiling:11; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 5
  • Total Gybes: 16 - Fully foiling: 10; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 4

Crew: Francesco Bruni, Ruggerio Tita, Andrei Tesei, Umberto Molineris, Vittario Bissaro, Emanuele Liuzzi

American Magic - AC75 Version 2 - Pensacola - January 11, 2023 - Day 32

From the AC 37 Joint Recon Team: Patriot sailed offshore today, covered approximately 71 nm, comprising six windward/leeward legs. Five headsails were loaded into the support RIB, three of them were used. Sailing began at 11:21, completed 19 maneuvers and ended sailing at 15:20. Patriot had a total flying time of 113 Minutes. Top speeds were approximately 32k upwind/ 38k downwind according to the RIB GPS.

There was a lot of conjecture over the secondary mainsheet traveller. It's function seems to be to provide support for the new mainsail clew strut, which replaces the more bulky mainsheet strut system used by Emirates Team NZ in the last Cup, which American Magic copied across, when they dropped their existing mainboom setup, and went to a boom-less system using clew sheeting only. The new system appears to be an attempt to tidy up airflows around the mainsail clew, bring the two mainsail skins closer together, improving efficiency.

The "new" track (we think it has been there for a while, but unnoticed), is too light to be carrying any of the mainsail loads, and just provides a support point for the clew strut, as well as being secured to the clew.

American Magic did break a lower mainsail batten, several of the images show some nasty creasing and wrinkles in the lower mainsail, probably as a result of the breakage.

"We had an awesome day out there," said long-time Kiwi professional sailor, Sean Clarkson who now works with American magic as a sailing coach. "We got a long way off shore. The joke in the Chase boat was that we had to crossed the Equator!"

"It was a very, very productive day, a nice long runs, with a nice range of breeze."

Sailing on the Gulf of Mexico for just the third time, Clarkson felt that they found "nice sea conditions [reported as being 2-3ft swells) that emulate Barcelona. "We ticked off a lot of good stuff, and used three different headsails. Across the range, the breeze and the sea state, it was great!".

"We were keen to learn how to sail the boat in the sea state. We've sailed We've sailed a lot in Pensacola with the flat water. We're slowly developing the systems, testing different modes, and different sail shapes and foil shapes. The sea state is an added dimension that we have to get good at," he added.

Asked to comment on the "new" mainsheet traveller that spanned the cockpit, Clarkson downplayed the question. "It's just a continual evolution of systems. We're trying to develop what we would have on the new race boats. It's just looking different ideas and concepts and chipping away at what can produce the best aero shapes, and use less energy, and keep evolving."

Clarkson confirmed that the team's AC40 was en route to Pensacola, and was expected soon. The team will bring on new Youth and Womens America's Cup crews, with some being introduced already aboard the AC75.

Session Statistics - Pensacola - January 8, 2023 - American Magic - AC75 V1.5

    • Wind Strength 7-12kts SW (PM)
    • Sea State: 2-3ft(AM) 2-3ft (PM)
    • Roll out: 0856hrs Dock Out: 1030hrs
    • Dock In: 1615hrs Crane out: 1700hrs
    • Total Tacks: 11 - Fully foiling: 5; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 3
    • Total Gybes: 8 - Fully foiling: 7; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0

    Crew: Paul Goodison, Riley Gibbs, Lucas Calabrese, Dan Morris, Andrew Campbell, Michael Menninger, Dan Morris, Colten Hall, Trevor Burd, John Croom, Tim Hornsby, Terry Hutchinson observed in various positions

    Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Barcelona - January 11, 2023 - Day 34

    Alinghi rolled the yacht out of the shed for the first time since 19th December, and left the harbour at Barcelona for the first time since 16 November, spending a total of 2hr 30min on the water.

    Due to lack of wind, the team used the opportunity to test systems ahead of the coming sailing days. A new winch has been added to the aft of the starboard cockpit, which is an interesting move as most teams are trying to get winches off the boat and switching to hydraulic systems.

    Crew member Nicholas Charbonnier, didn't reveal too much in the dockside interview, about what changes had been made to the first generation AC75, purchased from Emirates Team New Zealand. "It's amazing. The team worked really hard. Thanks to the shore team because they did an amazing job. And it's one of the best way to start the New Year is to be back on the water and doing what we love to do."

    Asked more specifically how Alinghi Red Bull Racing had spent their six weeks absence from the water, Charbonnier responded: "Teamwork, we spend a lot of time in meetings deciding things about what to do and how we're going to do it. We spent quite a bit of time at the gym and it was also good to analyse what we have done in the sailing session. So was quite good. And good to to be back for a lot more days on the water now."

    He placed a great deal of weight on the team's switch from having to winch the jib in conventional fashion to a self-tacking system, which is legal under the Version 2 of the AC75 Class rule.

    "The jib self tacking jib is a big thing. I think it's gonna really help our performances especially through the maneuvers. We're just trying to get closer to the next America's Cup and it's the easiest way to get the boat to the speed."

    "At the moment the focus is not really doing much match racing. We first need to learn to how to sail these boats and to get the best of it, and probably the match racing skill will come a bit later on. But we've got tools to do it and it shouldn't be an issue," he said.

    Responding to a question on the sailing goals for the day, Charbonnier responded: "Today is after any long break you just need to go on the water and make sure that are the systems are ready to go for the next days and being able to push a bit more. We also had to check the system with self tacking jib it was working well.

    "In the very light wind today, it was not sailable. But it was perfect to do what we had to do - just check our systems and make sure they are ready for the following days."

    Alinghi sailed the next day Thursday January 12th, 2023.

    Session Statistics - Barcelona, Spain - January 11, 2023 - Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75

    • Wind Strength: <0-2(AM); <0-2 (PM)
    • Wind Direction: W (AM) W (PM)
    • Sea State: 1 (AM); 1 (PM)
    • Roll out: 0915hrs Dock Out: 1430hrs
    • Dock In: 1700hrs Crane out: 1720hrs
    • Total Tacks: - Fully foiling:; Touch & Go:; Touch Down:
    • Total Gybes: - Fully foiling:; Touch & Go:; Touch Down:

    Crew: Driving team: Pietro Sibello, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Lucien Cujean, Maxime Bachelin, Yves Detrey, Nicolas Charbonnier, Bryan Mettreaux Power Team: Nils Theuninck, Nico Rolaz

    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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