NYYC American Magic flew into the weekend with a short Saturday session that was more about de-bugging, re-commissioning and testing the bewildering array of new systems onboard ‘Patriot’ the team’s workhorse, full-scale test platform. For sure, the team will have better sailing days but in terms of bringing the AC75 back online after nearly 10 months away, it was invaluable.
Docking-out the forecast didn’t look promising with leaden November high skies and a gentle breeze that had every possibility of dying off completely. Starting in displacement along the harbour wall breakwater, the sailors were coaxing the first flight whilst a crew-member fiddled with the new mainsheet system at the stern. Looking at pictures from the 4th February and comparing them to today, the mainsail looks to have an upgraded mainsheet system, hidden away behind a large flap of protruding sailcloth and there were some impressive short fanning of the mainsail track that looks super responsive. Patriot still carries the forward track that the team played around with back in January to carry the mainsheet hydraulic ram, but it remains unused in the current set-up but presumably has been left onboard as an option.
By early-afternoon the breeze came in before dying off again and after initial self-take-offs, a tow was required to take the boat a little way offshore to find more consistent winds. Once up and foiling on the flat waters off the Forum District, Patriot looked mighty in flight with Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison helming smoothly whilst Michael Menninger and Riley Gibbs kept a low flight accentuating the stern-up scalpel shape of the hull. Onboard up forward were the four-man cycling team with a couple of crewmembers trialling out on the AC75 at full scale and doing a handy job on the ever-hungry system that has undergone a lot of work with the cycling manufacturer SRAM and the in-house design team.
The day was marred by a few systems issues and the recon team reported that Patriot was predominantly either stopped alongside the Chase Boat or stuck in displacement waiting for any meaningful breeze to fill in. In total over the session that lasted just over three hours, the team performed four foiling tacks and three displacement tacks. Better sailing days ahead for sure.
Speaking afterward, Paul Goodison, three-time International Moth World Champion and Olympic gold medallist in the Laser class, summed up the day saying: “We had a much better breeze out there than was forecasted, we were expecting very little so we had a heap of stuff to do and tick off that was just as much non-sailing related as sailing-related, but when the breeze is in we’re all sailors and we’re desperate to go sailing so at times it was a little frustrating that we weren’t making the most of the breeze but on the flip side of that I think we made really great use of the time from a system side and electronic side today.”
With this being very much a commissioning day, Paul added: “We had a long list of stuff to tick off without actually foiling and being in displacement, to a bunch of tests to get done while we were up and running and we ticked off a bunch of the stuff mainly to do with the system side from the cyclist to some of the set up, but we had a couple of stoppages for things breaking and a few incidents downstairs.”
The team have spent all summer testing foils and sail geometry on their two AC40s so the move into the AC75 is a welcome step-forward in the campaign – not least because the sheer waterline size of the AC75 will allow NYYC American Magic to test efficiently in the wave-forms of Barcelona. Paul sees huge positives saying: “It’s very different from spending so much time here in the 40s and sailing around in those waves I guess the last sailing days we would have really struggled in the 40s and we take Patriot out which is not quite the same geometry as the race boat is going to be and we were managing fine so plenty of learning to be had…The boat is very different downstairs, you see with the new rules and a lot of the changes allowed within the new rules we’re obviously experimenting with that and trying to figure out how best to exploit some of the rule changes.”
All eyes now on the new raceboat that is being built over on the east coast of the United States and it’s clear that the systems being tested and trialled here in Barcelona will be transferred almost en masse to what they are nicknaming as ‘Boat 3’: “This is our test platform and as much as we can get down here it means that when Boat 3 arrives, the next race boat, we’re in a position where hopefully we can get straight into sailing and racing it round the course rather than commissioning like we’re doing a little bit at the moment.”
Valuable day for the Americans who are focussed laser-like on maximising every opportunity with Patriot from now through to Christmas. More to come next week.
On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: Another day of commissioning and testing for the NYYC American Magic AC75 Patriot with the boat spending significantly more time stationary than sailing during the four-hour session – despite the unexpected arrival of a decent 8-11 knot easterly breeze half-way through.
Patriot spent around 16 minutes in flying mode with the rest of the time taken up with displacement sailing and waiting time alongside a chase boat – reportedly for a combination of testing and technical issue resolution. Patriot was rolled out of the shed at 0854 to be quickly rigged and launched within half an hour. The team docked out at 1127 and by 1150 was outside the harbour with sails – M8-1 mainsail and J3-6 headsail – hoisted. Shortly after, with signs of a new breeze filling in from the east, the J3-6 was swapped for the J2-5.
With the breeze now at 7-8 knots the crew got the boat up to take-off speed but as the hull lifted off the headsail appeared to be sheeted off sending the boat into displacement mode with a splash. After a 30-minute wait to remedy the headsail sheeting issue, the boat set off again for a 10 minute upwind flight that included two foiling and one touchdown tacks. A second take off a few minutes later lasted just three minutes before the boat splashed down during its first tack attempt.
A wait of an hour took place – with support crew and sailors disappearing down the front hatch at various times – before the boat set off again. Unfortunately, despite 40 minutes of displacement sailing, no take-off was possible. With the breeze now starting to die the team opted for a tow up which saw the boat airborne for just three minutes before a lull in the breeze – and despite some vigorous mainsail pumping – saw it fall gently off the foils. That marked the end of the sailing for the day.
Sails were dropped by 1455 and the boat docked in at 1518.
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