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Cup Spy - July 10: Light airs provide a useful test for American Magic in Barcelona

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 11 Jul 2023 03:56 PDT 11 July 2023
American Magic - LEQ12 - Day 36 - July 10, 2023 - Barcelona © Paul Todd/America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - July 10, 2023:

  • American Magic sailed their AC40-OD against the LEQ12
  • Luna Rossa are reported to have been on the water every day in Barcelona, sailing alone in their AC40-OD - but not monitored by the AC37 Joint Recon Team.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing have no sailing reports for the last five days.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand has arrived in Barcelona and is believed to be assembling their AC75 with a target sailing date of mid-July.
  • INEOS Britannia will not be sailing until August 1, and are transiting to Barcelona from their pre-Cup base in Mallorca.
  • No further news from the Orient Express Team (formerly K-Challenge), save for the announcement of their sailing team.


The New York Yacht Club challenger American Magic opted to sail both their 40fters against each other, but the session came to a premature end due to a lack of interest by the breeze.

Luna Rossa continued sailing their AC40 One Design, sailing alone, as they have done most days of this week.

The other four teams either did not sail or do not have boats - either AC40-ODs, LEQ12s or AC75s - in sailing condition, in Barcelona.

Like their last session, the American Magic team picked a day that was light on wind.

To even the session up between the teams, Olympic Gold medalists Paul Goodison (GBR) and Tom Slingsby (AUS) co-helmed the AC-40 One Design, with the LEQ12 (AC40 hull fitted with test gear) was co-helmed by Olympic Bronze medalist in the 470 class, Lucas Calabrese (formerly ARG), and one of the Youth Squad.

"We knew it was gonna be light. So we pushed for an early start. So we got the most out of it. I thought and yeah, as you said the breeze shut down. It's a dying breeze, and unfortunately there was not much else we could do," Calabrese said after the three and a half hour session.

Unlike five days ago the three-way sea state was a bit less extreme, with Calabrese describing it as "more normal" by Barcelona standards.

"When you have easterlies beforehand, and you get a little bit of a swell chop, coming from off shore, it's nothing that wasn't too hard to manage. It's definitely great to spend the hours out there and to get used to it," he added.

Based on recent Olympic regatta results, it is clear that the USA, once a powerhouse of sailing has lost its way in talent development. Almost all of the winning New Zealand team in 2017 and 2021 came out of the Kiwi Youth development and Olympic program, and the British has followed a similar model for the upcoming Cup in Barcelona.

In the 2013 America's Cup, which was the most recent successful defence of the Cup by USA, most of the sailing crew were from outside of the USA. Even in Bermuda in 2017, Tom Slingsby who was also a member of the winning 2013 Cup team, was the only US Passport holder on the six man crew.

The 2024 nationality rules for the Cup allow only those who are passport holders, or were with the same team prior to March 2021, are eligible to sail for a club's team of the same nationality.

For American Magic the Olympic talent scarcity has required an in-house re-building program - utilising the Youth and Womens America's Cup events, and building on the foundation of sailing crew from the last America's Cup, in Auckland.

With three boats in Barcelona - two AC40s/LEQ12 and their remodelled AC75 Patriot, from the 2021 America's Cup - the team is running two sailing squads.

"We saw you had young people on the crew today," AC37 Joint Program member Lea Sitjà remarked in the post-session interview.

"Yes, definitely," Calabrese (36) responded. "We are starting sailing with two boats now. So we are two full teams. And we had young guys on on Magic (LEQ12), and they're doing a great job. We're trying to basically make sure that everybody is up to speed on every role, so we can have really good testing and two boat racing, which will come shortly.

"So definitely those younger guys have been great. And we're really happy how everyone is performing."

Sitjà made the observation that from the chase boat, it appeared that America (the AC40 in One Design mode) was gaining ground and a better angle on the winds than the LEQ12 Magic, which should have been the faster of the two.

Calabrese replied: "We've definitely felt a little bit that way. But obviously, it was a short day. And you know, we got to gather the data and see what that tells us. But we definitely felt pretty good in America today. But we've had to dig into a bit more closely."

He added that they were still sorting out boats and sailing technique, noting that they had some hydraulic issues on the LEQ12 Magic, as well they had been trying to sail with both boards [foil arms] down, which while providing more lift and stability in the lighter breezes, also adds drag.

"One of one of the issues was when we were sailing on two boards, and we got a bit too slow. It was really light," he reflected.

"At the end, we had a little bit of what we think was a hydraulic issue - that we're going to check and make sure we are ready for the next day of sailing. We don't know about that one yet. We need to see what comes up from the post-session study," Calabrese added.

However for all that the US Team were the only ones sailing a two-boat program on Monday, and despite the light winds causing the foreclosure of the session it was a productive day.

"It's great to be out in marginal conditions. It's easy to sail in flat water, what we really need to get is experience in the marginal stuff, and find out where the limits are for the foils and for the crew."

Of some concern for all teams will be the continuing pattern of light weather and rotating direction, given that in 12 months they will be on the final run up to the start of the Challenger Selection Series - and continued light weather will blow holes in the testing schedules to determine which gear is to be measured in for racing.

Further the racing is scheduled to start at 2.00pm - when the regular pattern of the breeze seems for it to be fading and veering in direction.

Weather conditions at Barcelona July 10, 2023:

  • According to the Predictwind readings taken at the entrance to Olimpic Port the breeze spiked to 7kts at 1000hrs decreasing to 2kts around 1400hrs. During the sailing period from 1000noon to 1330hrs the breeze swung steadily from E (090°) to S (180°). See image for more detailed wind information. The breeze was "gusting" 10kts at 1000hrs dropping to 2.5kts around 1400hrs before reviving as the breeze swung back to the East, where it settled at 1800hrs. Wind observations by the AC37 Recon team, on the water, had the breeze at 8kts (E) dropping to 2kts at 1220hrs.
  • Sea state: Beaufort 2.
  • Conditions: Sunny
  • American Magic (LEQ12): Dock-out: 1000hrs Dock-in: 1330hrs
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: No AC37 Recon report available from teams sailing AC40s in One Design mode.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

American Magic - LEQ12 - Day 35 - July 5, 2023 - Barcelona

Two boat testing today with America (LEQ12) and Magic (AC40 OD).

Roll out was 0745hrs for Magic and 0825hrs for America and Dock Out was 1000hrs.

After a long mainsail hoist by LEQ12 America we were out of the Port 1030hrs, both boats on J1 (biggest size jib). Wind reading was 7kts 90º and a sea state of 2 Beaufort Scale with 0.3m in height, 3sec period, accompanied by a wind chop from 80º and a residual 0.5m high, at 5 secs, from 105º swell. The air and water temp was 27°C.

Crew on the LEQ12 America was Lucas Calabrese, Andrew Campbell, Michael Menninger and one not identified. On the AC40-OD, Magic were Tom Slingsby, Paul, Riley and young Finn. It took a while to get both boats foiling and lined-up with America showing more difficulty in getting airborne ( at 12kt of boat speed so far).

We started sailing on a boat on boat upwind starboard tack doing 28kt boatspeed with America to windward showing a better angle, four tacks were completed with one of those a 'Touch and Go'.

There was a short stop at 1100hrs and followed by a downwind leg. Again the AC40-OD Magic was earlier and easier on the foils than the LEQ12 America. A total of two gybes were made with one 'Touch Down' for both boats.

The LEQ12 America “ventilated” and lost foiling twice on that run for no apparent reason, Lucas Calabrese blamed it on hydraulic issues when asked about it on the interview.

I wasn’t able to assess speed differences between boats on that run. America stopped sailing 1106hrs and Magic 1112hrs and both boats had a debriefing. By then the wind had dropped to 4-5kt. At 1220hrs the wind had further dropped to 2kts and sailing was finished for the day. Dock in was 1256hrs for Magic and not until 1330rs for America, reasons unknow.

Report from: Lea Sitjà

Session Statistics: American Magic - LEQ12 - Day 35 - July 5, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Total Tacks: 26 - Fully foiling: 22; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 12 - Fully foiling: 12; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Lucas Calabrese/Junior Not Identified (on AC40 OD we had Tom Slingsby/Paul Goodison), Michael Menninger/Andrew Campbel (on AC40 OD we had Riley Gibss/Finn Jr)

Luna Rossa Prada Prada Pirelli - AC40-OD - Day 11-15 - July 5-10 2023 - Barcelona

No report available from the AC37 Joint Recon team, as the Cup teams have collectively decided not to carry out Recon activities on teams' sailing only AC40-One Designs. We understand that the Italians have been sailing every day the AC40-OD has been in Barcelona.

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. Its format is intended to give Sail-World readers a snapshot of all teams' progress on a given day or period.

The Parting Shot:

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