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Cup Spy March 4: American Magic's AC40 suffers structural damage on topside

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 6 Mar 05:31 PST 6 March 2024
'America' racing 'Magic' oblivious to the structural crack on her port topside - American Magic - AC40 - Day 99 - March 4, 2024 - Barcelona © Job Vermeulen / America's Cup

The French Challenger, Orient Express Racing Team, resumed testing off Barcelona today after an absence of almost a month.

American Magic discovered a topside crack during race testing, and ceased participation. Their other AC40 " Magic" was unaffected.

What happened in the Cup - March 4, 2024:

  • INEOS Britannia - did not sail; they are on a three-week break and must also resolve the issues arising from a lithium battery fire on their first AC40 Athena.

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Are working through a training bloc on their AC75 test boat, Boat Zero. They have not disclosed if their AC40s are returning from Jeddah, or if they will remain for further training sessions. The team took delivery of their AC75 race boat on Monday, which is now being commissioned at the team base in Barcelona. The stated launch date is not before April 5.

  • Emirates Team New Zealand - Their sailing program has been disrupted by the late return of their one design AC40-OD. The other AC40 is being used as a LEQ12 test boat. Their AC75 raceboat is nearing completion and the team is one of four who have notified an April launch date. Over the past two months ETNZ has recorded the second lowest sailing days of the six 2024 AC teams.

  • American Magic - Their AC75 Patriot was retired on January 23, 2024. Today they continued with their two boat AC40 program practicing racing starts, some course sailing and speed work. It was later confirmed that the team did have a crack in their AC40 hull, as suspected by the Joint Recon team, and the AC40 ended the session and was towed back to the team base.

  • Orient Express Racing Team - Today was the first time in a month that the French team have been accompanied by the AC37 Joint Recon team, indicating they are testing custom design sails (mainsail and jib - J3).

  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - The Italian team have retired their LEQ12 test boat, which would appear to have served the team well. They too have notified an April launch date for their AC75 raceboat.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Orient Express Racing Team - AC40 - Day 7 - March 4, 2024 - Barcelona

OE Racing Team launched their AC40 sailing in LEQ12 mode as a test boat at 10:40hrs. It had been left with the mast up and out of the shed overnight. After usual routine activities, the team docked out at 13.30hrs, as planned.

The LEQ12-J3 jib and the LEQ12-MN-A mainsail were hoisted while heading out of the harbour at 13:40hrs and 13:50hrs, respectively.

Tricky conditions prevailed. A southwesterly gradient wind, shifting persistently to the right during the day and oscillating in intensity between 11 to 17 knots, combined with a one-meter swell.

For the first twenty minutes, right after hoisting the sails and once just out of the port, the team had to work on what seemed like a minor issue on the mast rotation or cunningham system. A few shore team members got onboard carrying tools, and one was seen using a hammer.

By 14:15hrs the minor problem was solved, and the training session got underway.

After sailing for ten minutes on starboard tack, both upwind and downwind, Orient Express stopped due to a new minor issue on the wind system that required the anemometer at the bowsprit to be replaced. Half an hour later, the session was resumed.

At 14:45hrs, one long downwind was carried out in top-end conditions. Multiple nose-dives and touchdowns occurred while dealing with the tricky wind and swell combination. However, all of them were well-controlled, and none were at risk of capsizing. Then, one upwind leg was executed.

From 15:10hrs till 16:10hrs, the team practised multiple bear-aways on both tacks, from reaching the course into the downwind VMG (Velocity Made Good) course, apparently being on manual flight-controlling mode. They succeeded in approximately a 50% of their attempts.

At 16:15hrs, there was a 20-minute break in which a battery replacement took place.

During the last hour and a half, once closer to the harbour where the sea state conditions were much better, the team did five upwind-downwind legs, doing three to four tacks and gybes, respectively, focusing on the manoeuvres.

The speed at which they changed their course during on gybes drew my attention. It is a little bit slower and takes more time than regular average gybes.

Orient Express entered the port at 18.05hrs, lowered their sails, and docked at 18:25hrs. Fifteen minutes later, the boat was craned out of the water, indicating the end of the day.

Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on OE Racing Team

Crew: Quentin de la Pierre, Kevin Peponet, Matthieu Vandame, Jason Saunders

Session Statistics: Orient Express Racing Team - AC40 - Day 7 - March 4, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather:16° C. Partly sunny
  • Wind Strength 9kts
  • Wind Direction: 215° - 270°
  • Sea State: 1m swell slightly choppy on top.
  • Crane In: 1040hrs Dock Out: 1340hrs
  • Dock In: 1825hrs Crane out: 1840hrs
  • Total Tacks: 24 - Fully foiling: 17; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 7
  • Total Gybes: 13 - Fully foiling: 8; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 5

American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 - Day 95 - March 1, 2024 - Barcelona

American Magic Team boat AC40-8 "Magic" rolled out at 09:55hrs, and launched by 10:25hrs.

Five minutes later, AC40-5 "America" was also rolled out and launched at 11:20hrs.

While alongside, sailors and engineers made regular checks to ensure everything was in perfect condition before the sailing session.

At the launch a few new features were observed.

Both Magic and America had lidars installed, it is assumed to assist with sail testing. Also, we noticed that America had some new cameras (we guess they were cameras) installed in the bottom of the side of the hull, a couple of meters forward from the foil arms (see pictures).

At 12:30hrs, both Magic and America docked out, towed by their chase boats. At the entrance of the harbour, they each hoisted up both LEQ (test) mainsails and J3 One Design jibs.

America started sailing first and went for a short warm-up through a small downwind and upwind to finally join Magic once she was ready to start.

From here the sailing session was conducted in 12-18kts of breeze.

Phase 1 (55 mins) Both sailed a long downwind leg. America was looking faster and had similar courses, with no one sailing deeper than the other.

Next they started a speed test upwind in port tack (to test custom foils). America was leeward to Magic and was also on upwind, clearly faster. I don't know if America could also point higher as the wind turned to the right as you get closer to the coast.

In the middle of the run, America bore away and slowed down slightly to let Magic come back. They continued a little bit more, tacked and went for a small starboard run and then bore away to start a downwind towards a start line that one of the chase boat had set.

When they arrived at the marks, it was around 13:50hrs, and they decided to stop and perform a debrief and some regular checks on both boats.

Phase 2: (35 minutes). Magic went for some mark luffing on both sides, a couple of starts and some short upwind and downwind lines. America was 10 minutes late to start, went for a long upwind and downwind, and did around five tacks and 3-4 gybes.

Phase 3: (40 mins): America and Magic fought in the three starts they simulated. They won one each with no score being recorded on the third.

After the third start, they stopped to change batteries and performed a small team briefing @ 15:00 hrs.

Around 15:15hrs, Magic started sailing upwind, but America remained stopped as it seemed to have some problems at the hull. We could see some sailors trying to inspect specific areas forward to the foil arm. They seemed to be concerned about a possible crack in that area of the hull. They dropped the sails and got ready to be towed back to port, while Magic sailed back.

At 15:36hrs they dropped the sails and got ready to be towed in. Dock-in was completed at 16:15hrs for both boats. In summary, America today foiled for 105 minutes, around 36 manoeuvres: 85 % fully foiling. Magic foiled around 125 minutes, performed around 42 manoeuvres: 75 % fully foiling

Crew: Co-Helms: America: Tom Slingsby / Paul Goodison ; Magic: Lucas Calabrese / Harry Melges. Flight Control/Trimmer: American: Andrew Campbell / Michael Menninger ; Magic: Severin Gramm / Riley Gibbs

[Report by Jose Piñana AC37 Joint Recon Team]

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 x2 - Day 95 - March 1, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 15° C - Cloudy
  • Wind Strength: 8kts-18kts
  • Wind Direction: 210-255°
  • Sea State: 0.85mtrs - 1.5mtrs 164°
  • Crane In: 1030hrs|1120hrs Dock Out: 1230hrs
  • Dock In: 1610hrs Crane out: 1700|1730hrs
  • Total Tacks: 21
  • Total Gybes: 21

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, and 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.

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