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Cup Spy Nov 11: American Magic makes the most of a frustrating day

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 11 Nov 2023 13:03 PST 12 November 2023
American Magic, Day 48 AC75 (B2), November 11, 2023 Barcelona © Ugo Fonolla / America's Cup

American Magic was the only America's Cup team to sail on Saturday, they sailed out of Barcelona in a light, marginal racing breeze. Skipper Paul Goodison confirms the team will compete in Jeddah.

What happened in the Cup - November 11, 2023:

  • American Magic - American Magic rolled out their AC75 Patriot, and went though a long day, in light winds, in a session that was later described as more about commissioning. Skipper Paul Goodison more, or less confirmed that the team will be sailing in Jeddah - the Preliminary Event from which they had previously requested being excused on security/safety grounds.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing - are in Jeddah with two AC40s. They were caught in a sudden 25kts rainsquall yesterday. They suffered no outward But did not sail today, Saturday.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand - It's the weekend in New Zealand, and ETNZ do not normally sail weekends unless there is an urgent requirement.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - Probably had the weekend off, too, No report of the Italians sailing their LEQ12 test boat off Cagliari.
  • INEOS Britannia - The Brits also appear to have had the weekend off.
  • Orient Express Racing Team - Their AC40 is en route to Jeddah.
  • All teams are/have shipped AC40s to Jeddah for the second Preliminary Event at the end of November. No further official update on security concerns, other than Goodison's passing comments, today.

Commentary: Testing, testing, testing

Outwardly American Magic had a frustrating day off Barcelona. Winds peaked at 10-11kts before dropping away to 5.5kts by the end of the four hour plus session - with just 38minutes of sailing. Just four tacks were completed - only two of those fully foiling.

"At times, it was a little frustrating that we weren't making the most of the breeze. But on the flip side of that, I think we made really great use of the time from a system side and an electronic side today, " skipper and co-helmsman Paul Goodison exlained.

Without saying in so many words, Paul Goodison indicated that the team is following a practice which Emirates Team NZ has used for the last few Cup cycles - particularly for their Cup wins in 2017 and 2021 - where a boat, close in size to the America's Cup race boat, is used as a working prototype for all on board systems.

A month or so before the launch of the team's third AC75, the onboard systems will be ported from the test boat across to the race boat - so that the current system state, and development pace is maintained.

The practice is also a lot less demanding on the program, in that a duplicate set of control systems is not built, and the next version is an upgrade of the previous mode and goes straight into the race boat.

It also saves a lot of time that would otherwise be spent gremlin chasing in the early days of the race boat - as all imported systems brought across to the race boat have been debugged.

Despite having already been upgraded to the external features - of Version 2 of the AC75 Class Rule - such as running backstay removal, installation of cyclists, removal of winches, and changes to mainsheet and jib sheeting systems, Goodison says there are significant changes below decks.

"It's very different downstairs, with the new rules and a lot of the changes allowed within the new rules. We're obviously experimenting with that and trying to figure out how best to exploit some of the rule changes."

"The plan is that this is our test platform, and if we can get work done here [on Patriot], it means that when Boat 3 arrives - we're in a position where hopefully we get to go straight into sailing it and racing around the course rather than commissioning - like we were doing a little bit at the moment."

Although the day was frustrating in that American Magic spent little time sailing, but used the time for static testing instead. It was a good opportunity to work through a check list of items that need to be tested on the water with sails hoisted - and can't be done on the dock.

"We've ticked off a bunch of the stuff when we're up and running mainly to do with the system side on the cyclists - to some of the setup. But we also had a couple of stoppages for things breaking and a few incidents downstairs."

In Barcelona, to date, American Magic's development strategy has been focused around their two AC40's, but with the change in seasons and increase in windstrength - the AC40's have proven difficult in the Barcelona seaway. The AC75 move should overcome that issue - with the downside that only legacy foils and sails, from the 2021 Cup, can be used.

"The AC75 is a very different boat, " Goodison explains. "The basics are very similar, but this boat is very different from sailing around in the AC 40s. The boats are equally as much fun, but there are two very different challenges."

Towards the end of the interview with Justin Chisholm of the AC37 Joint Recon program, despite winning the first Preliminary Regatta in Vilanova, Goodison says the next regatta in Jeddah will have less priority.

"I think really the focus is on the AC75 right through to Christmas," he said. "I think as soon as we get on the plane we'll probably start tuning into Jeddah - it's quite low on the priority list for us as a team at the moment. Our main focus is is the AC75."

"I guess we're taking a bit of pain now to get a lot less pain later when it comes to the launch of Boat 3." he explained.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Report:

American Magic - AC75 - November 11, 2023 - Barcelona - AC37 Joint Recon Unit - Justin Chisholm
Another day of commissioning and testing for the NYYC American Magic AC75 Patriot with the boat spending significantly more time stationary than sailing during the four hour session - despite the unexpected arrival of a decent 8-11 knot easterly breeze half way through.

Patriot spent around 16 minutes in flying mode with the rest of the time taken up with displacement sailing and waiting time alongside a chase boat - reportedly for a combination of testing and technical issue resolution.

Patriot was rolled out of the shed at 0854hrs to be quickly rigged and launched within half an hour.

The team docked out at 1127hrs and by 1150hrs was outside the harbour with sails - M8-1 mainsail and J3-6 headsail - hoisted. Shortly after, with signs of a new breeze filling in from the east the J3-6 was swapped for the J2-5.

With the breeze now at 7-8 kts the crew got the boat up to takeoff speed but as the hull lifted off the headsail appeared to be sheeted off sending the boat into displacement mode with a splash. After a 30 minute wait to remedy the headsail sheeting issue the boat set off again for a 10 minute upwind flight that included two foiling and one touchdown tacks.

A second take off a few minutes later lasted just three minutes before the boat splashed down during its first tack attempt. A wait of an hour took place - with support crew and sailors disappearing down the front hatch at various times - before the boat set off again.

Unfortunately, despite 40 minutes of displacement sailing, no takeoff was possible.

With the breeze now starting to die the team opted for a tow up which saw the boat airborne for just three minutes before a lull in the breeze - and despite some vigorous mainsail pumping - saw it fall gently off the foils. That marked the end of the sailing for the day. Sails were dropped by 1455hrs and the boat docked in at 1518hrs. No sailing is scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday November 12).

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC75 - November 11, 2023 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Cloudy 14° C
  • Wind Strength: 5.5kts - 11kts
  • Wind Direction: 080° - 100°
  • Sea State: Light chop
  • Crane In: 0833hrs Dock Out: 1028hrs
  • Dock In: 1518hrs Crane out: 1550hrs
  • Total Tacks: 4 - Fully foiling: 2; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Tom Slingsby, Paul Goodison; Riley Gibbs, Michael Menninger, Andrew Campbell, John Croom, Madison Molitar, Colton Hall, Tim Hornsby, James Wright.

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