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Cup Spy Feb 4 : Big waves test American Magic in Pensacola. Italians have a 'profitable' day.

by Richard Gladwell/ 5 Feb 13:48 PST 6 February 2023
American Magic - AC75 - February 4, 2023 - Pensacola © Paul Todd/America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - Feb 4, 2023:

  • American Magic sailed off Pensacola in what was her final sail. The team will not be back on the water until early March, 2023.
  • Luna Rossa sailed from Cagliari, in the fresh breeze of the Maestrale.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand did not sail, with fresh onshore winds in Auckland. On Saturday their AC40-OD hit a UFO - believed to be run-off debris from the torrential rain that has caused extensive flooding in the City.
  • INEOS Britannia did not sail.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing did not sail.
  • No further news from the Orient Express Team (formerly K-Challenge).

American Magic - AC75 Version 2 - Pensacola - February 4, 2023 - Day 44

From the AC37 Joint Recon Team:

Patriot sailed offshore today in the biggest sea state yet (3-5ft swell with the occasional 6ft wave). However the winds were relatively light for the seastate on the Gulf of Mexico. There was a decommissioning

The RIB's could not keep pace. The distance recorded on the tracker was 57nm, a reasonable estimate for the actual distance sailed would be close to double that, approximately 110nm.

The wind and seas backed off in the early afternoon allowing the RIB's to keep up.

Patriot sailed approximately 10 upwind/downwind legs. Five headsails were loaded into the support RIB, 3 were used.

Sailing began at 11:07, completed 17 maneuvers and ended sailing at 15:15.

Patriot had a total flying time of 104 Minutes. Top speeds could not accurately be estimated.

Initial take off was self, 16 additional self up's, four tow up's. The sea state prevented any of the RIB's to closely follow the race yacht, although all of the tacks and gybes were counted, it was difficult to discern if they were full foil, touch and go, or touch down. Patriot touched down frequently but did not necessarily lose boat speed. Patriot was on foil a combined total of 104 minutes.

The day concluded with a patriotic display of red, white, and blue distress smoke signals being deployed off the stern while Patriot sailed all the way in the pass (for the first time).

Sailing is not scheduled to resume until March 1, 2023.

Patriot decommissioned

The display at the end of the session marked the decommissioning of American Magic's AC75. It is expected that the team will now shift across to sail AC40's - starting in three weeks at the beginning of March.

After the sail, AC37 Joint Recon teams Mike Petersen caught up with American Magic skipper, Paul Goodison to reflect on the day, and the campaign.

"Kind of a bittersweet day today with this being the last sale of Patriot. How was it like out there today?" was the first question.

"Yesterday we got some full on noise with up to 25 knots and over 50 knots and every bear away; to then going outside today, and having a seaway. It's probably the biggest [waves] we've sailed Patriot into date," the British Olympic Gold medalist responded.

"We've had a lot of challenging conditions and it's been great to experience that with the team, and just see how everybody in the team is pretty much risen to the challenge. We've had two fantastic days sailing to finish up with Patriot here in Pensacola," he added.

Most of Patriot's sailing has been done on the flat waters of Florida's Pensacola Bay. Today was one of a handful of occasions when the team has made it out onto the Gulf of Mexico, where they hoped to experience conditions similar to what will be expected in Barcelona, venue for the 37th America's Cup.

While we have seen Alinghi Red Bull Racing, trying to cope with the awkward sea state off Barcelona, viewed from afar, through the lens of the AC37 Joint Recon program, it has not been a convincing display. Whether that is due to the inexperience of the Swiss team, issues wth their flight control systems, or a general comment on the ability of the AC75 to be able to race in those conditions, is still a largely unanswered question.

"It's full on when the waves are so big. It's hard to keep the foil in the water and the hull out of the water just with the way the whole thing shapes up," Goodison said of their performance in 5-6ft seas on the Gulf of Mexico.

"Obviously one tack is a little bit easier than the other."

"On port tack we had real issues as soon as the hull touches down, the foil is out of the water, or you accept a bit of heel and the boat gets a bit out of whack. On starboard the boat's obviously a little bit more settled, because you have a bit more margin to keep the foil in the water, and the hull out of the water. Really tricky conditions but fantastic learning again," he explained.

The decommissioning of Patriot, which American Magic sailed in the 2021 America's Cup marks a turning point in the teams 2024 campaign.

"The biggest gains for sure have been the systems," Goodison said comparing the 2021 version of Patriot to the current rendition which has been modified to incorporate many of the changes permitted under Version 2 of the AC75 Class rule, which will be used in next year's Cup.

"The boat is a completely different yacht to what we raced in Auckland and the changed systems we now have onboard."

"You can see the bikes, but there's also heaps of other stuff - inside the sails and underneath the boat - that isn't, I guess, visual to everybody. The systems have been a massive improvement. We're able to develop a lot more sail shapes, and sail the boat quite differently. Obviously, learning about how the power system works in the boat, has been invaluable for us as a team," he added.

Asked what he would change if the campaign was starting over today, Goodison who was tactician alongside helmsman Dean Barker for the 2021 America's Cup responded: "There's a lots of things we'd change. But you deal with the hand we get."

"Our AC 40s arrive a little later than the other guys [American Magic were later to enter], so we have made fantastic use of the time here with Patriot. It's probably been a blessing in disguise to be honest, to be able to sail this boat, and learn all we have. It has put us in great shape now for the design decisions that need to be made in the in the coming months for the for the race boat."

Outwardly the 2024 version of the American Magic team feels a lot different than in 2021. Then the team always seemed to be in transition, and trying to address an uncertain future driven by international reaction to the Covid pandemic. Now it seems to be more low-key, stable and focussed. Goodison was asked to comment on the then and now American Magic team culture.

"The culture here is amazing," he replied. "Everybody has one goal and that's to try and win the America's Cup - and not only here when we're at work grinding away, but also when we're back at the apartments, or when we're out for meals. Everybody gets together. We have such an amazing culture and it feels great to be a part of that."

American Magic has not yet announced its next steps. There has been no advice as to when it's AC40 will arrive, or whether the team has one or two on order.

Session Statistics - Pensacola - February 4, 2023 - American Magic - AC75 V1.5 - Day 44

  • Weather: Sunny 65 degreesF
  • Wind Strength 10kts-12kts dropping to 8kts in mid afternoon
  • Wind Direction: E (PM)
  • Sea State: 3-5ft Swell
  • Roll out: 0825hrs Dock Out: 1000hrs
  • Dock In: 1520hrs Crane out: 1545hrs
  • Total Tacks: 13 - Fully foiling: 8; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 5
  • Total Gybes: 4 - Fully foiling: 1; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 3

Crew: Paul Goodison, Riley Gibbs, Lucas Calabrese, Michael Menninger, Andrew Campbell, John Croom/ Madison Molitar/ Colten Hall/ Tim Hornsby/ James Wright

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Cagliari - February 4, 2023 - Day 29

From the AC37 Joint Recon Team - Michele Melis:

The LRPP team has found quite profitable conditions for a productive sailing session with medium to upper range NW pressure, 10-12 kts in the morning increasing to 15-18 kkts in the afternoon.

The day at the Ichnusa Dock started at 8:00 when the italian LEQ12 rolled out of the shed and was craned in at 8:20.

Due to the forecast change, the dockout was postponed of an hour in which the shore crew run the usual checks additionally to some maintenance below deck.

They hoisted and locked in mainsail before packing it back away.

At 11:15 the team headed towards Sella del Diavolo to hoist main and J2 and the LEQ12 was boarded with four crew members, a few of which wore different helmets.

Some swaps of helmsmen, facing new screens, and trimmers were observed in the following sailing hours.

Throughout the whole sailing session six self take-offs were observed with occasionally a third crew members sitting on windward deck before crossing back and take off while heeling to windward as documented by recon videos.

The sailing session began on the westerly side of the gulf before heading offshore from Poetto where more breeze was forecast.

After some initial runs and with more pressure filling in, the team hoisted the J4. Beside some maneuvers closer to shore, the team seemed to focus on testing flight in long broad reach runs; certainly sailing conditions in which the recon RIB struggled to keep up doing a top end speed of 42kts.

Within several downwind modes significant variation of ride height has been observed.

Towards the end of the session the Italian LEQ12 headed towards the harbour gate where some mark rounding maneuvers were tested concluding the day after 75nm with 15 maneuvers, out of which 8 tacks and 7 gybes and a foilborne time of 124 minutes out of approx 180 minutes in displacement sailing.

Session Statistics - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Cagliari - February 4, 2023- Day 29

    • Weather: Cloudy 16 degreesF
    • Wind Strength 9-12kts (AM) 15-18kts (PM)
    • Wind Direction: NW Maestrale (Mistral) breeze
    • Sea State: Choppy
    • Roll out: 0820hrs Dock Out: 1115hrs
    • Dock In: 1500hrs Crane out: 1630hrs
    • Total Tacks: 8 - Fully foiling: 5; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 1
    • Total Gybes: 7 - Fully foiling: 6; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0

    Crew: Francesco Bruni,Ruggero Tita, Marco Gradoni, Jimmy Spithill, Andrea Tesei Umberto Molineris swapping with Vittorio Bissaro

    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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