One of the hardest emotions to harness into an America’s Cup team is ‘belief’ but it’s starting to permeate around the NYYC American Magic team as they settle in for the long haul in Barcelona. The sailors look increasingly comfortable with not only the programme but in their sailing style, and with true superstar sailors of both today and tomorrow all around the American camp, there’s a sense of building anticipation.
The only team that elected to sail today, American Magic launched into once again near-perfect conditions of 12-15 knots on the dedicated racecourse area for the 37th America’s Cup and went through a fine series of two-boat pre-starts and short lap races with both boats notably nose-diving and ventilating on the downwind legs – in total between them the Recon Team counted 18 crashes. It was donkey-derby at times but hugely entertaining to watch and the sailors took a lot away from the session.
Andrew Campbell commented on the day as he saw it from onboard ‘America’ saying: “Today was awesome, you know this is shaping up to be a really great venue in terms of breeze, the last week or 10 days it’s been fantastic sea breezes, I think all the teams have kind of stretched the boats to the limit, probably stressed the shore crews to the limit as we’ve had a lot of days in a row and it’s been really, really, great so we have nice breeze in the teens and it’s always a little bumpier than we expect and the waves are coming from a different direction than maybe we always think but it’s a really challenging and fun place to sail.”
The team’s modified AC40s that each feature a test foil on the starboard arm and one design foils on port are getting attention and there’s plenty of recon photos looking specifically at the join area on the starboard foil arm between the back of the bulb and the foils theselves on ‘America’ – the first AC40 that the team modified. That join area could be explained in various ways with the most likely being that the team beefed up the bulb area and adjusted the position of the foils to counteract leeway – thoughts of any articulation are more than likely wide of the mark – but it’s an interesting point of difference and something that the recon photographers will be paying attention to going forward.
Out on the racetrack today, ‘Magic’ with Tom Slingsby and Harry Melges IV on the carbon wheels looked to have Paul Goodison and Lucas Calbrese’s number time and again on some of the best pre-start action we’ve seen in the AC40 fleet, but the outcome of the races seemed to be decided by who ventilated or avoided nose-dives the best. Tricky in the easterly swell and chop but both boats were dialled into autopilot today and it was interesting that even in the considerable sea state, they elected to ride super-low to the surface upwind, completely unafraid to punch through waves as we’ve seen with other teams. Occasionally either boat would get stalled in those waves, but what’s becoming abundantly clear in the AC40 is that you have to keep the pace on and flying to keep position.
With so many variables between aero and hydro in Barcelona, Andrew Campbell summed it up beautifully after sailing, saying: “The conditions are bumpy, you know the autopilot’s doing a hard job to keep up with all the different sea states and the chop and the swell underneath going in different directions. We were finding one tack to be much harder than the other today and yeah at the end of the day you know you’re racing against yourself a lot of the time. You’re trying to make sure that your boat is actually getting around the track in a decent way rather than trying to beat the other guy all the time because if you can’t execute your manoeuvres yeah, you’re going to be out the back.”
The AC40 has proven with all the teams to be a simple boat to sail but a fiendishly difficult conundrum to work out how to sail really fast but American Magic are slowly cracking the code and as Andrew says: “I’m learning everything new every day you know on these boats, trying to figure out a new pieces of new puzzles and you know we’ve got a lot of personnel that we’re moving around in different positions so I’m learning how to interact with different people and how those personalities work and learning how to do new jobs every day, so I’m really excited by how these boats are challenging us even though you know the autopilot and all the one design packages that we have here there’s a lot to learn in there still, so we’re trying to figure that out and trying to understand how to make it better, you know, how to use it better.”
NYYC American Magic had drones launched to monitor sail shape and wing wash with the superb chase team putting marker buoys into the deep crystal waters and the sailors didn’t disappoint with a marked bite to the training and close quarter action. Andrew summed up the change in pace when reviewing the day saying: “We were going through a number of drills trying to figure out how to line the boats up nicely, basically to get a good line up you know. We’re still kind of checking our foils partway through the racing conditions so we want to be doing some of the race patterns and some of them are pre-set where we’re going to be, but yeah it was a fun little racetrack today and we kind of are getting at taking the gloves off a little bit and having some fun.”
Andrew also made a super team-oriented comment when he was asked about what was potentially giving NYYC American Magic an edge in this America’s Cup cycle as he responded: “I think that the fact that we’re here, that we’re getting set up, you know, shows that we want to be ready for this venue and that’s a huge step forward. What do we have that’s different from the other teams? You know we’ve got a strong team that’s in the shed making sure that we can get on the water as many days as we want so I put our strength in our crowd that’s in that shed making sure these boats get on the water every day.”
And that’s the ‘belief’ right there. NYYC American Magic looked fantastic on the water today combining real generational foiling talent and a first-class development programme off the water. Many people’s pick to do very well in the Challenger Selection Series, the Americans look better and better every day.
On-Water Recon Unit Notes – NYYC American Magic: Close pre-start dog-fighting session and plenty of nose-dives for NYYC AM today. ‘America’ and ‘Magic’ came out of the shed @11:15h with the very same modified configuration as the last two days (America stb silver foil with white flaps and 3 fences on foil arm, Magic with stb silver foil with white tips and 1 single fence on foil arm, One Design set-up on port foils).
The Recon Unit missed the dock out and so we couldn’t identify the crew members on ‘Magic’ as we were already on the water by then, laying the 4 marks for the windward and leeward gates used today.
Boat-on-boat sailing began straight away @14:07h with a short upwind warm-up and a longer downwind towards the starting area. Both boats sailed with jib#3 for the whole session as the wind was already blowing 12-15kt @190º when we left the port and increased to 14-17kt by the time we finished, the ever present East residual swell was still there to make things interesting.
They stopped @14:18h after Magic ventilated heavily to a complete stop which required some technicians with computers to come onboard. They started the first race (1 lap) @14:37h with a textbook pre-start procedure displaying some tight powered-up bear aways and heavy round-up manoeuvres with both boats very close together that set the tone for the rest of the day.
Magic clearly won that start from the lee and forced America into an early tack-away. Magic was comfortably leading at the windward gate but went into a sudden stop after a nose-dive crash early in the run. America, in front, did the very same nose-dive crash-stop shortly after, allowing Magic to retake the lead and win this first race. Both boats rounded up the leeward gate with two boards down neatly under control followed by a clean tack.
They stopped for 6’ and started a second dog-fight prestart procedure @15:00h won by Magic again because America, on the lee, ventilated right when crossing the starting line.
They relined-up immediately after for a third prestart procedure which was won by Magic again as she buried America deep into the pin end and into a late start. With Magic leading at the windward gate, we saw a repetition of the nose-dive crashes at the downwind leg for both boats, so nothing changed really, and Magic was first rounding the leeward gate. They sailed on for a second upwind leg on this race and America stopped @15:27h at the windward gate to have a battery replacement. Meanwhile Magic sailed into port on her own to finish her session @15:34h.
America resumed her sailing @15:55h with 3 prestart procedures back-to-back and very short upwind legs in between during which we saw America nose-diving hard at every downwind leg, bringing up the final number of nose-dive crashes to 18 between both boats, evenly shared more or less. America sailed into port @16:25h and the Recon unit stayed a bit longer to pick up the marks, missing her docking in. Lea Sitjà, Recon Unit NYYC AM.
©PAUL TODD/AMERICA’S CUP
©PAUL TODD/AMERICA’S CUP
©PAUL TODD/AMERICA’S CUP