It’s no secret in the America’s Cup community that New York Yacht Club American Magic has had a very good winter period. Training out of beautiful Pensacola, first in the team’s AC75 ‘Patriot’ and latterly in the all-new AC40 rocket-ship, they have impressed all round.
Long days on the water, wonderful displays of high technique sailing from two of the greatest foiling sailors of this generation in Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison, and some stunning crew-work from arguably the best-drilled team in this cycle. Terry Hutchinson, as the team’s guiding light and leader, has played a blinder this winter.
So, it was no surprise, but great to see in 20-20 vision that the team’s development programme mirrors the on-water efforts with the reveal on Saturday of a new long span starboard foil that effectively takes the AC40 into the realms of LEQ12 territory and furthermore, takes the American Magic programme in a whole new direction.
And what a stunning addition the new foil is replete in a chrome finish, and very much along the design lines that we’re seeing on Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. The flat-topped protruding bulb comes to an aggressive point whilst the underside of the bulb appears to be vee’d in section gradually to aid flow aft. The real engineering detail, indeed, genius, is the long, perhaps single, flap that tapers either end with what would appear to be a very fine exit at the tips that curve ever so delicately downwards to create a slight anhedral effect far outboard – otherwise the foil looks flat to the naked eye. Whether it flexes under load is not known but top work from the American Magic design and research team. A beauty.
But on the water is where it counts, and the team went into full commissioning mode with Paul Goodison, Riley Gibbs, Lucas Calabrese and Michael Menninger selected to give the new foil its first shakedown. A/B testing runs were short with plenty of time in-between to chat with the technical team on the Chase Boat but the runs on port tack with the new foil immersed looked fast and stable with the helmsmen inducing considerable windward heel towards the end of the session. The Flight Controllers kept the boat low on the foils out of respect for the conditions where it was blowing a steady 12-15 knots with stronger gusts up to 26 knots, and several cant angles were observed on the starboard foil as they rifled through the modes.
The recon unit noted that “America looked a little faster” on the starboard foils and quizzed uber coach Tom Burnham who is a three-time sailor in the America’s Cup – once with Young America and twice with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, as well as being a coach to the Swedish team at AC35, after sailing (and in the rain!). No better person to interview, Tom was pleased with the first commissioning of the new foil saying: “It was basically a first testing day, first day of sailing with the new foil and just easing into it. We waited for the breeze to get a little bit lower and made sure we were careful with how we were sailing on that foil, but we just put it through its paces today and didn’t have too long a day and got in at a reasonable hour to be able to be ready to go sailing on Monday.”
Asked about the performance profile of the new foil, Tom was cautiously optimistic from the day saying: “Yeah, I mean it’s pretty early to tell. It’s just a new design and so it’s you know checking in with the design results in what the foil is supposed to be doing and getting a look at it for the first day. So not too much reading into day one with it, just a kind of checking out sailing day.”
And as a ‘checking out’ day goes, it was pretty impressive – 17 tacks at 100% foil-to-foil/touch & go, and 5 gybes at 100% foil-to foil show the level that the American Magic sailing team are at, even in the stronger conditions and with sailing talent like that, the logical step to start the foil development process is a no brainer. It will be interesting to watch the team this week as they push the foil harder and fly higher.
American Magic let the development genie out of the bottle today. No going back now. Fascinating.
On-Water Recon Unit Notes: America was craned in at 11:00 and docked out at 12:00. The starboard wing was replaced since the last sailing session.
The team commenced tow testing at 12:00 and concluded at 12:51, making a lap and a half around Pensacola Bay. America was towed outside the wake at about 25k.
The team began sailing at 13:49, the wind was gusting from 12k to over 18k as the M1 and J3 were hoisted. The team indicated seeing wind speeds of 14k-26k (interview).
America sailed shorter stints today and appeared to struggle a little in the gusty/shifty wind conditions. The longest stint on foil was 22 minutes. The team called a rather abrupt end to sailing at 15:22 and America was slowly towed in. In all, America completed 22 manoeuvres, 6 windward/leewards, sailed approximately 30nm, and had a flying time of 51min.
Top speeds were approximately 34k upwind and 40k downwind.
Total Tacks: 17 – 16 foil-to-foil, 1 touch & go.
Total Gybes: 5 – 5 foil-to-foil
Recon Notes: America was on foil a combined total of 51 minutes (3, 6, 22, 15, and 5 minutes respectively).
Take off speed: 18 knots at 90° TWA (True Wind Angle)
Recon Notes: Initial take off was self, 5 additional self-ups, 0 tow ups.
Onboard AC40 Today:
Helms: Paul Goodison / Riley Gibbs
Trimmers: Lucas Calabrese / Michael Menninger
Conditions: 12:39 N 12-17k/ 12:57 N 15-18k/ 13:31 N 10_15k/ 14:36 N 12-15k/ 14:56 N 12-15k . Wind speed measured 8ft above sea level using a handheld anemometer. Weather AM: 45°c Cloudy. Weather PM: 55°c Cloudy.
M1 (AM-MN1): 2 hours 25 minutes
J3: 1 hour 55 minutes
Dock-Out: 1200 Dock-In: 1555