The recent swell conditions in Barcelona have kept one of the hardest driving teams of this America’s Cup cycle, NYYC American Magic, shoreside so the chance to get out on the racecourse and put some miles on their one remaining AC40 ‘America’ today was a welcome relief.
Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison took the reins supported by Riley Gibbs and Michael Menninger (the regatta-winning team from Vilanova i La Geltru a few weeks back) and immediately the crew clicked into gear with a clear mandate to test out the team’s latest foil iteration on the starboard foil arm.
‘Foil 4’ was heavily photographed today with the now customary over-size camera mounted on the outboard wing top and bottom to capture both surface flows and tip distortion. In the air, a drone relentlessly captured footage from the starboard side, looking at wing-wash and sail set-up. Furthermore, there was something for the trimmers to really play with in the form of the heavily tell-tale adorned MNC-1 mainsail, fresh out of the sail loft and looking far more rigid than the standard One-Design AC40 mainsails that the team have been running when doing two-boat foil evaluation with ‘Magic’ in recent weeks.
‘Magic’ is now on its way to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for the second Preliminary Regatta at the end of November and the team sound very much as if they will be shifting winter practice to their AC75 warhorse ‘Patriot’ that is being re-commissioned in their MB92 base on the eastern side of the Port Vell, in the coming weeks.
A solo session for ‘America’ who, apart from some Youth & Puig Women’s America’s Cup teams training out on the Barceloneta beachfront in various Persico 69Fs, were the only senior Cup team to sail today. Straight out of the harbour and with some 16 knots of breeze greeting them, Slingsby and Goodison looked eager to get early foil analysis nailed with the standard ‘S’ courses on port that put maximum pressure and flow across the starboard foils as well as building in accuracy across the whole team. Trim was beautiful, as is always the case with this top team, with both Riley and Mike sitting tweaking the trim from the panels and keeping the power on with crisp, sharp control of the traveller.
‘America’ has been the go-to ‘LEQ12’ for the American team and from the recon video it very much looks like the trimmers, or possibly the helms, were over-riding the ride-height control and varying the pitch according to the sea state whilst in their testing and data gathering mode. Once the team switched to race mode over a series of laps, it appeared that the highly tweaked auto-pilot was turned back on and the concentration was on racecraft and sail trim as the team threw in the moves and shadow-boxed.
Winds were tricky with the recon team recording angles as wide as 200-270 degrees and varying in strength from 16 knots to just above 5 knots at times and that’s consistent with what the AC75 teams of Emirates Team New Zealand and Alinghi Red Bull Racing recorded over the previous two days of this rare offshore October breeze. Riley Gibbs confirmed as much afterwards saying: “…a lot of it was just kind of for our personal education and kind of going out on the racecourse and seeing what it was like. Obviously in the last couple of days we’ve seen other teams getting exposure to the offshore breeze and what that has to offer, so we kind of wanted to go have a look at it as well.”
Although the foil analysis routines looked productive, clearly the day was more about getting back on the water and getting that all-important ‘sailor-feel’ that every team boss is referring to at the moment. Riley spoke about the data gathering, adding: “I mean it’s certainly harder to come to obvious conclusions let’s say but yeah I mean you can kind of understand trends and how they form and when, and you’re still always learning.”
Looking at the new mainsail, that today was paired with a bespoke J2, Riley gave an insight into the relationship between sailor and sail designer as they go from one-design to ‘fresh design’, saying: “Yeah working on a relationship with the sail designers and what their idealising as their perfect sail and from a training perspective kind of getting used to that, it’s a little different than how it sets up from the one-design sail and just learning how to interact with it and trim it to its best possibilities.”
The next phase of training for NYYC American Magic will be fascinating with ‘Patriot’ reportedly due to splash on the 6th of November. The team will be looking for another good performance in the Preliminary Regatta at the end of November and with so much time spent training in the AC40s, they will be a tough team to beat, for sure.
Can they make it two in a row and go into 2024 with an unstoppable momentum? Hard to bet against but the level will be super-high all-round in the fair winds of Jeddah where consistency, as always, will pay big dividends. Stay tuned for that one. (Magnus Wheatley)
On-Water Recon Unit Report – NYYC American Magic: NYYC AM rolled out their AC40-5 ‘America’ at 07:45 in LEQ12 mode, with foil wing and flap #4 on the starboard side, and with foil wing and flap #3 on the port side.
The piece of hardware identified yesterday (In addition, a piece of hardware was added to the starboard side wing. Possibly, containing cameras inside to record the fluid dynamics of the water going over and under the foil wing and flap.) on the starboard side wing, was still there today. Two Go-Pro cam-recorders could be seen being placed inside, one at the top and another one at the bottom, pointing towards the wing tip. Possibly, to record the fluid dynamics of the water going over and under the foil wing and flap.
America was craned to the water at 08:15 and docked out at 09.30, as planned, with Tom Slingsby and Riley Gibbs on the starboard side, and Paul Goodison and Michael Menninger on port.
Non One-Design sails were selected for today´s training. The MNC-1, being used for the first time since modifications were reported on October 11th on the Components Declaration Form, and the J2 with no window and rectangular head. Sails were hoisted at 09.50 and 10.10, respectively, while coming out of the port.
The first part of the training consisted of doing some “S” manoeuvres, from closed-hauled course to a broad reaching course while sailing upwind on port tack. Also, multiple take-offs were conducted on the same tack. Given the fact that the cameras were positioned on the starboard side wing, this exercise was possibly planned to record and later analyse the fluid dynamics while sailing upwind on port tack, when standing on foil #4, while changing course and also when taking-off.
In very shifty and unstable conditions, varying from 270 to 200 in direction and from 4 to 16 knots in intensity, approximately, it was hard to test components and arrive to conclusions in a reliable way. From 11:15 till 11:45 the wind decreased considerably for a while, and the team decided to take a break, after trying to take-off being towed with no success.
From 11:45 onwards, the second part of the day consisted of virtual races, using virtual marks and boundaries. Five to six tacks per upwind leg and four to five gybes on the downwind were performed. A total of two two-lap upwind-downwind races were conducted. Not much to say about the races, very hard to judge anything in such shifty and unstable conditions.
‘America’ entered the port at 12:45, sails were lowered at 13:00 and docked at 13:10.
The team will resume their on-the-water sessions on November 6th with their AC75 Patriot. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on NYYC AM
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