Friday, July 19, 2024
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Two International Moth World Champions Bring Dynamic Sailing Techniques to America’s Cup

The benefit of having not one, but two, International Moth World Champions onboard an AC40 cannot be understated and what Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison underlined today out in Pensacola Bay is that they are bringing dynamite technique sailing to this America’s Cup.

It was sensational to watch as American Magic opted for sailing inshore in flat water and let two of the world’s greatest foiling sailors ever, off the leash to show the world their innovative thinking on how to generate maximum power – both upwind and down. To watch a Moth fleet sailing at the elite level is to see dynamic windward heel with the sailors using the wings for an aero uplift in performance. What Slingsby and Goodison were doing in the AC40 was to use the windward foil arm to aggressively cant the boat to windward whilst angling the leeward arm as far out as they dare with the outboard wing-tip breaking the surface upwind. The resultant windward heel afforded ‘America’ maximum power in a breeze of 9-12 knots, maintaining flight and keeping the angles sharp, particularly downwind.


Furthermore, and different to how say the Alinghi Red Bull Racing team do it, the American Magic tacks upwind are a demonstration in speed and co-ordination with the helm dialling into the tack ‘before’ the windward board is lowered. The bow comes up into the wind smoothly and right at the optimum moment, the windward board is dropped at pace – get this wrong and it’s capsize time – and the boat spins rapidly on the newly created foil axis. Get it right, as American Magic did 48 times out of 47 – another 98% success rate – and the results are sensational. Exit speeds almost matched entry speed and to say the Americans looked good, was an understatement.


Downwind, the team again were experimenting with vicious windward heel, sailing on the angles and then dropping the windward board to level ahead of the gybe. Once through the gybe, the new windward board was held down just long enough to induce the new windward heel on the new gybe before being raised to accentuate the effect and exit at rapid pace before the flight controller raised the hull in co-ordination with the heel. More often than not – 24 out of 28 – it was a foil-to-foil masterclass by two of the best in the pro-foiling business. Genius on display.


With the cant sweeps and heel sweeps completed, Riley Gibbs the upcoming superstar of world sailing was rotated in to give him more time on the helm and there was simply no loss in form. The young sailors are coming through fast in this America’s Cup cycle and are set to be sensations in the coming years such is the opportunity afforded by the AC40 pathway. In interview afterwards, Riley was a gem talking through the day saying: “yeah…similar to what we did yesterday with the cant sweeps and true wind angle sweeps and boatspeed sweeps, we wanted to go through that again today on the on the ‘lake’ that we have here inside which has been pretty nice, you know you get almost VPP like conditions to play around in, so it’s great to get the results we’re after compared against our tools… different mainsail setups and twist combinations obviously you know we were quite down range on the on the J3 towards the end and deliberately wanted to try that out and see how it compares so yeah just trying to get a better understanding of the equipment that we’re using as far as the One Design sails and you know the whole package really.”


The benefits of the American Magic simulator that the team have developed cannot be underplayed and Riley is translating that work from computer to the water with such ease. Talking about that he said: “The simulator has been a huge tool for us, we can put our model of the AC40 in and test exactly what we’re testing out here and it’s something that we’re pretty proud of and it’s been quite a useful tool for us for sure.”

American Magic are setting the bar in terms of technique. The AC40 programme continues at pace this week and with the second boat on its way, this is becoming a compelling challenge for the America’s Cup with talent all over. Good things happening on Pensacola Bay. Fascinating to watch them develop.   

On-Water Recon Unit Notes: America was craned in at 0930 and dock out was 1100. All sailing was inshore today. Prior to dock out the shore crew were observed affixing hook and loop fastener material to either side of the mast, on the aft edges, from deck level up about 18 inches.

The M1 was hoisted at 1120 followed by the J2 at 1130. Sailing began at 1157, America completed 76 manoeuvres, covered a distance of approximately 80nm, 24W/L’s, and was on foil for 145 minutes total.

Top speeds were approximately 30k upwind and 37k downwind. Sailing concluded at 1603.

The team spent a good deal of time sailing the boat with windward heel both up and down wind. The batteries were replaced, and crew substitutions made at 1445. The lower batten on the starboard mainsail skin was replaced.

Sailing is expected tomorrow, Thursday 3/9.

Total Tacks: 48 – 47 foil-to-foil, 1 touchdown.

Total Gybes: 28 – 24 foil-to-foil, 3 touch & go.

Recon Notes: America was on foil a combined total of 145 minutes. Flight times ranged from 2 minutes to 36 minutes (13, 5, 20, 36, 20, 14, 9, 22, 4 and 2 minutes respectively).

Take off speed: 18 knots at 95 degrees TWA (True Wind Angle)

Initial take off was self, 11 additional self up’s, 0 tow up’s

Onboard Today:

Helms: Paul Goodison / Tom Slingsby / Riley Gibbs

Trimmers: Lucas Calabrese / Dan Morris

Flight Control: Trimmers: Andrew Campbell / Michael Menninger

Conditions: 11:14 SE 12k/ 11:38 SE 7k/ 12:52 SE 9k/ 14:10 SE 8-10k . Wind speed measured 8ft above sea level using a handheld anemometer. Weather AM: 73°c Partly Cloudy. Weather PM: 75°c Partly Cloudy.

Sails Used:

M1 (AM-MN1): 4 hours 50 minutes

J2: 2 hours 30 minutes

J3: 1 hour 55 minutes

Dock-Out: 1100 Dock-In: 1620

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