Everything changes. Everything stays the same. The famous line of Zen could well be appropriate for NYYC American Magic who unquestionably have become the talk of the America’s Cup dock but whose management and sailors are firmly rooted in reality.
It was thus another day of full-bore mode and aero testing with Lucas Calabrese joining Paul Goodison in the helm seats whilst the crew rotated through the day with Michael Menninger, Riley Gibbs and Andrew Campbell swapping in and out. No rest for the team who are placing great stock on these testing sessions and who even declined a day of racing pre-Vilanova at the test event in Barcelona ahead of the first Preliminary Regatta to extract foil data. Back then it was due to “key decisions” that needed to be taken and the suspicion is that the American’s dedication to slender, tricky foils is where they will end up on their raceboat.
Again today it was all about trying to get comfortable on the foils with several nosedives and dramatic falls off the foils as the sailors pushed into high-angled exits, aggressive bear-aways and round-ups into the manoeuvres and some interesting take-off rig settings. One thing that was noticeable was the forestay sag pre-take-off which, once airborne, was quickly pulled on tight as the mainsheet leech load came on and the jib cunningham adjusted – it almost looked pre-set.
Speaking afterwards, Lucas Calabrese summed up a tricky day, saying: “Obviously quite challenging today. We had quite some swell and it was pretty ghastly, especially the earlier part when the breeze wasn’t very settled, so all of the variances were important: the helm, the trimmer and the flight controller all of them had to be in very good sync for a successful performance. So, it was definitely challenging… we were just trying different configurations all day, different guys doing different jobs, rotating people around, so it was just great I mean obviously you didn’t see the best performance but it’s great to do that and good learning.”
Talking specifically about the foil set-up, Lucas gave an interesting response, saying: “I mean we gotta make it work. Obviously, the one design foils are bigger and more forgiving, but I think our foils are faster so we just gotta learn to use them.
NYYC American Magic are next scheduled to sail next Tuesday after a well-deserved long weekend where the shore team will be looking at the hydraulic issue that stopped their day mid-afternoon. Two hours of flight time out of four hours on the water, was, in the varied conditions, a result for the team of the moment.
For INEOS Britannia, the team haven’t stopped since Vilanova with a couple of days of AC40 testing in One-Design configuration that is not covered by the recon teams on the water, but today it was a modified T6 that came back out of the shed after almost three weeks with fences on her starboard foil and a new all-black foil colour scheme. For the sailors, it was a pretty tough day on the water as the chop built over swell whilst a solid 10-15 knots of breeze came in on the Barcelona waterfront and Giles Scott and Dylan Fletcher-Scott grappled with the boat through the conditions.
Getting their eye in and the modes set was the trickiest part of the session and T6 looked an uncomfortable ride especially downwind where it was all-on for Bleddyn Mon and Leigh McMillan on Flight Control as they wrestled with ride height. Upwind T6 looked okay in the flatter water inshore but still with a tendency to hobby-horse in swell as the team drove hard to bustle-skim and keep the ride low – not easy and the oilskins and googles were more than earning their keep with plenty of briny over the bow.
A dramatic near capsize whilst hurtling downwind on the swells towards the end of the session had been telegraphed from a long way out with several near-misses and splash-down captured on the recon video but when it came, it was everything the team could do to keep the boat upright with both boards down. Speaking afterwards Bleddyn Mon looked quite shaken at the nosedive saying: “Yeah, it was one of the gybes that we had, we lost the rudder midway through and sent us into quite a severe nosedive and we managed to recover it, kept both boards down and kind of turned into the breeze so fortunately avoided anything more serious.”
Overall the team seemed positive with Bleddyn talking about the upgrades and the commissioning process: “So T6 hasn’t been on the water for a few weeks there with obviously the focus being on the AC40 prep but yeah there’s been a lot of modifications on the boat so good day for us today to kind of commission a lot of those things and get out there again which has been we’ve been good fun… there’s some fences on the starboard side wing today and so just having a look at how they behave and then obviously other kind of controls related upgrades as well…It is super tricky when we haven’t been out for a while and we’ve got lots of upgrades so it’s really hard to kind of remember where your baseline was, but I guess a lot of that will come out hopefully in the data now over the next kind of day or so where they could really dig into the behaviour of the boat with these upgrades on and compare it to where we were a few weeks back.”
The British are looking determined to stay on track and focus on the task in hand. Bleddyn spoke about the programme ahead saying: “This is going to be a fairly intense period for us in T6 getting as much learning as we can in this boat before we go off to Jeddah in December so yeah solid period of T6 sailing.”
INEOS Britannia have scheduled another session for Friday. Barcelona is going to be a busy place over the coming weeks for all the teams. (Magnus Wheatley)
On-Water Recon Unit Notes – NYYC American Magic: NYYC American Magic team went for another sailing day in Barcelona, fully focused on manoeuvres on their last sailing session of the week. ‘America’ the team’s modified AC40, was rolled out at 9:00h and after their usual mast procedures and daily dock-chat they docked out at 11:00h with exactly the same configuration as yesterday. Paul Goodison, Lucas Calabrese, Riley Gibbs, Andrew Campbell and Michael Menninger were onboard today when they hoisted the main and J1 inside the port with 6knts breeze from 180º outside the harbour. Once ready, they started sailing at 11:24h and foiling upwind at 11:32h when we saw a lot of splash on their bow.
The team followed with a long downwind consisting of eight fully foiling gybes before stopping on the last touch-down manoeuvre for the first battery swap of the day. We noticed challenging conditions making their bow up and down when the recon boat was following them in a straight line, they were non-stop powering/depowering the main with increasing sea state and wind gusts oscillating between seven to sixteen knots. Near Port Forum the Chase Boat stopped alongside and they changed crew configuration while lowering the J1 and hoisting the J3-3.
At 12:50h and for 1hour 22 minutes they did three long upwind and downwind legs close to shore. They were apparently having more difficulties during this period as we saw them nose-diving several times and losing all their speed in the touch-down tacks and gybes.
At 14:12h they went for another battery swap followed by the last fifteen minutes downwind, where they did eleven foiling gybes. Lucas Calabrese let us know in today’s interview that they had an hydraulic problem and at three o’clock they lowered the sails and decided that they were done for the day, towing the AC40 back to port and docking in by 15:40h. The new jib AM-LEQ_JS1 #J2-C-1 version B which they did not use today, has been launched in today’s Component Declaration. The team will be off from sailing the next four days and they have plans to be back on the water Tuesday next week. Elia Miquel – Recon Unit NYYC
On-Water Recon Unit – INEOS Britannia: The British returned to testing in their silver LEQ12 T6 today after a three week break. During that time modifications had been made to the starboard ‘banana’ foil – with the addition of four foil fences on the upper forward face of the outer section of the wing – and a new rudder blade and elevator had been swapped in.
Both foil wings and stocks had been painted black. The boat rolled out of the shed on schedule at 0930 for the mast to be stepped before craning in took place at 1015. Before launch, shore crew members were observed sanding the new foil fences for around 20 minutes.
After docking out on schedule at 1200 the M2-2 mainsail and J4-1 headsail were hoisted by 1230 and the boat left the harbour at 1240. T6 was up on her foils a couple of minutes later in an 11-12 knot southerly breeze and a moderate chop. This initial upwind run on starboard came to a halt eight minutes later after the boat was observed porpoising for 20 seconds or so before splashing down. After a 15 minute pause the boat was back on the foils on starboard upwind but soon bore away for a fast 20 minute downwind run along the Barcelona shoreline. This session came to a halt with a controlled roundup after a foiling gybe.
Five minutes later T6 was off again upwind on upwind on port but stopped again four minutes later after a foiling tack. A ten minute upwind followed with three tacks before stopping. Five minutes later the boat was off again on a 10 minute fast downwind run which came to an abrupt halt with a big nosedive on the exit to a foiling gybe. A capsize looked imminent as the boat slowly rounded up but the crew got the foils under the boat quick enough to prevent it happening. After 10 minutes of checking over the boat – including a visit from boat captain Chris Schirmer carrying a long bag marked ‘Sucka’ – the British crew was off again on a 20-minute upwind session in 14-15 knots of breeze.
After a battery change at 1500, T6 set off again on a series of windward leeward laps that came to a halt outside the harbour at 1555. Throughout the day the crew appeared focused mainly on straight line sailing in low mode with the bustle skimming the surface. As well as the nosedive there were several big splashdowns. Sails were dropped by 1612 and the team docked in at 1625. Another T6 sailing session has been scheduled for tomorrow (Friday September 22).