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Cup Spy Feb 21: American Magic rides in the Barcelona Rodeo

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 22 Feb 00:42 PST 22 February 2024
Chase boat and AC40 spray combines to make a spectacular display - American Magic - AC40 - Day 95 - February 21, 2024 - Barcelona © Ugo Fonolla / America's Cup

American Magic trained alone again, in the final day of a three day block, ahead of some team members competing in SailGP this weekend. Winds hit 24kts causing the AC40 to hit 48kts, giving the crew a ride akin to riding a bronco in a rodeo.

Conditions were boisterous off Barcelona, testing the AC40 and those attempting to handle it. 24kt winds and an awkward sea are not the ideal conditions for the AC40, but which the AC75with their different foil geometry and more power can cut through with relative ease.

The Highlights video shows the American Magic team pushing the limits in an AC40, hitting 48kts in bearaways - only 6kts below the fastest speed achieved by an AC75 in top end conditions (See highlights video below).

In the Interview video, sailing operations boss, Terry Hutchinson took a sanguine view of the session conceding that what was tested was dictated by what the conditions permitted, rather than the test script for the day.

In response to another line of questioning he took a more conservative view of what was possible under the AC75 Class Rule - and the differences that will be seen from the Class of 2024, from the Class of 2021, when the teams AC75s begin being launched in late March, early April.

Hutchinson believes that the AC75 Class Rule controls to a large extent the potential for free design. It must also be remembered that because of event schedule constraints, in the 2021 America's Cup, the designers had to start drawing the second boat before the first AC75 design attempts were launched. So there was no data to feed into Boat 2.

For the 2024 Cup there has been plenty of testing opportunity, but only three of the six teams have opted to do it full size in AC75s.

Currently there are 15 boats that have been sailed by the six teams, as part of their AC75 2024 test programs - ranging from One Design AC40s to AC75s part upgraded to Version 2 of the AC75 Class Rule that will be the template for all AC75 Race boats in the 2024 America's Cup Regattas.

American Magic - AC40 - Day 86 - February 21, 2024 - Barcelona

The American challenger made the most of a day of medium to top wind conditions to round off a three-day block of single-boat race training.

The US AC40 America was rolled out at 0855hrs and was rigged and launched by 0920hrs. Noted on the foredeck was the previously used LiDAR unit that was mounted yesterday with a fore and aft orientation but was set up laterally today. (See photo below).

After docking out at 1055hrs, the custom-design MN C3 mainsail and one-design J3 headsail were hoisted by 1120hrs with the boat out of the harbour and quickly up on foils by 1130hrs in 10 kts of breeze. After an initial downwind run that saw five foiling gybes, the crew turned upwind for a four-foiling tack beat, followed by a two-foiling gybe run.

Shortly after midday, two consecutive pre-start attempts were aborted after the boat fell off the foils during manoeuvres in the final minute. A 15-minute stop followed, during which two technicians came aboard and disappeared down the front hatch.

At 1230hrs, the boat set off on a practice pre-start and two-lap race. This race began in 14kts of breeze but ended in 16-20 kts – conditions that saw the crew wrestling for control during bearaways and roundups and several high-speed touch-and-go splashdowns.

After swapping headsails to the J3 C1, the team completed a second practice race in winds measured from the Recon boat in the high teens to 20 kts range.

At the finish of this two-lap race, the boat headed briefly upwind (two foiling tacks) before bearing away on starboard to begin a very long downwind run with six foiling gybes. After a 20-minute stop, the boat set off upwind on starboard tack for a long beat back to the harbour.

However, after falling off the foil on the first tack, the boat limped on port tack in displacement mode towards shore before tacking on to starboard again and foiling up closer to the harbour. The issue, later identified in the interview with Terry Hutchinson as a 'failure to the sensor on the starboard foil flap', ended the day.

No recon sailing is scheduled before Monday, February 26.

Crew: Co-helms: America - Paul Goodison and Lucas Calabrese. Flight Controller/Trimmers: America: Michael Menninger and Andrew Campbell

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40 - Day 86 - February 21, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: Sunny 15° C
  • Wind Strength: 10-20kts
  • Wind Direction: 180°
  • Sea State: Light- Moderate chop
  • Crane In: 0920hrs; Dock Out: 1100hrs
  • Dock In: 1600hrs Crane out: 1630hrs
  • Total Tacks: 23 - Fully foiling: 19; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 25 - Fully foiling: 22; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 0

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