A thrilling new chapter for the New York Yacht Club American Magic syndicate began today with the first sail of their AC40 out on a perfect Pensacola Bay that served up billiard table flat conditions and a breeze that steadily built to top out at 12 knots. After the initial tow-testing that is mandatory upon commissioning, the sailors couldn’t wait to get sailing, but it was a good hour as the sails were loaded and set as the technical teams checked through the new set-ups before the boat was signed off and good to go.
Tom Slingsby, fresh off the plane following his wedding in Sydney last weekend was joined by Paul Goodison in the alternate forward helming pod whilst Andrew Campbell and Michael Menninger had the honour of flight control and trimming on this maiden sail of a yacht they’ve christened ‘America’ – and we all know what happened the last time a yacht called ‘America’ competed. History beckons.
Immediately, the crack test team had ‘America’ up in flight and a blistering first run of 19 minutes saw the boat in auto-pilot rocketing along under the J1 with the sailors looking like they’d been sailing AC40s all their life. Very quickly the cant of the foil arms was adjusted to induce the windward heel that is customary on these pocket rockets and the boat simply just got faster and faster. With two ex-International Moth World Champions and Olympic Laser Class gold medallists on the helms, ‘America’ was quickly into manoeuvres with an unbelievably high success rate for a maiden sail whilst noticeably the flight controllers could be seen to go from autopilot to manual as ride heights and pitch were tested. The aggregate time for foiling was some 165 minutes with one foiling run lasting an incredible 47 minutes.
Paul Goodison was delighted with the first day saying: “I think it’s a true testament to all the Shore Team who’ve got the boat together in such a short amount of time. Obviously, it’s not been here very long, it’s being put together and all the checks done and obviously the boat comes very well prepared and the stuff you get from (Emirates) Team New Zealand is good and it worked nearly perfectly on the first day… but not quite perfect.”
What Goodison was alluding to was an abrupt end to the day as a valve seizure curtailed sailing and caused the boat’s systems to effectively shut down. The shore team will look at that on a planned maintenance day on Thursday and work with the Emirates Team New Zealand design office to analyse the issue before effecting a repair but as Goodison said: “We did a few off and on’s and got the boat working to a point where we could we could tow back in, so that was good news.”
Talking about how the American Magic AC40 programme develops from here, Paul alluded to the team taking at least one of their boats (the other is in transit) into LEQ12 mode, saying: “I think everybody is excited to see this new boat obviously there’s plenty still going on in the shed with the with the old boat, some testing going on there, and progress being made after the last bit of sailing but everyone is super excited to go into this next stage of testing to start seeing some of our own appendages at some point and to learn the new boat… before we see some of our own appendages underneath the boat, which is really exciting, first we’ve got to baseline a little bit so we get to a standard where we can sail the boat good enough to then baseline data to see how good the new foils perform.”
And comparing the team’s now de-commissioned AC75, ‘Patriot’ and the sailing style needed on the much smaller AC40, Paul offered: “The 40 is set up very differently from the way we sail the AC75, so we’re learning quite different things. Obviously, the helms are controlling a lot when you’re under autopilot to do with the ride heights and the cant positions which is usually done by the foil trimmer and the trimmers when we’re in the big boats, so the roles are slightly different but it’s still sailing, still a similar concept.”
She may well have been built by McConaghy’s in China, fitted out by the ETNZ North Shore facility in Auckland but now that ‘America’ is in Pensacola and sailing – she’s certainly ‘Born in the USA.’
Great to see the fifth AC40 on the water and sailing so well straight from the container. This is a team to watch – they have serious talent to burn, and the programme has been relentless under the leadership of Terry Hutchinson. It’s a heck of a challenge for the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona.
On-Water Recon Unit Notes: The new AC40 was craned in at 8:45, dock out was 9:45. The team began tow testing at 10:40 and concluded at 11:01. The AC40 was towed at 20k in very light air and flat water. It took a little over an hour to get the M1 and J1 up, but then the team sailed 3 hours and 20 minutes in this configuration.
The team then hoisted the J3 and sailed on it for 15 minutes. The breeze picked up to around 12k as the J2 was raised and the team elected to sail for almost another hour.
The AC40 then began sailing at 12:25, completed 74 manoeuvres, covered a distance of just over 80nm, 17 W/L’s, and was on foil for 165 minutes total.
Top speeds were approximately 23k upwind and 33k downwind. Sailing ended rather abruptly at 16:42 after “some valves got stuck” and the yacht “shut off” (according to the interview with Paul Goodison).
No sailing is expected tomorrow (3/2).
Total Tacks: 37 – 28 foil-to-foil, 6 touch & go, 3 touchdowns
Total Gybes: 37 – 29 foil-to-foil, 7 touch & go, 1 touchdowns
Recon Notes: The AC40 was on foil a combined total of 165 minutes. Flight times ranged from 2 minutes to 47 minutes (19, 16, 32, 16, 47, 2, 4, 2 and 27 minutes respectively).
Take off speed: 15 knots at 95 degrees TWA (True Wind Angle)
Initial take off was self, 8 additional self up’s, 0 tow up’s
Helms: Paul Goodison / Tom Slingsby
Flight Control: Trimmers: Andrew Campbell / Michael Menninger
Conditions: 10:00 S 2k/ 11:30 SW 7k/ 13:18 SW 6k/ 14:25 SW 7k/ 15:27 SW 8-11k/ 16:09 SW 12k. Wind speed measured 8ft above sea level using a handheld anemometer. Weather AM: Mostly Cloudy 72. Weather PM: Sunny 75.
M1 (AM-MN1): 5 hours 15 minutes
J1: 3 hours 20 minutes
J2: 53 minutes
J3: 15 minutes
Dock-Out: 0945 Dock-In: 1730