Barcelona and Cagliari were the blank canvases today and it was NYYC American Magic and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli that both painted masterpieces respectively as the hammer went down on two utterly rewarding commissioning sails where data and pre-set definition were the order of the day.
In Barcelona, it was ‘Patriot’ who cut a lonely figure out in conditions that well-suited the design profile of the AC36 vintage AC75. With 15-18 knots of breeze and a swell that hoevered around half a metre, flight was easily attained and as the session went on, the ride was low and upwind the sailors were well into the 40 knot barrier and starting to build big confidence in their sailing style whilst the vital pre-set controls that form the matrix of mast rotation, mainsheet, cunningham, jib traveller, jib cunningham and forestay load all get relayed into the team’s intellectual property. These are hugely important days on the water for American Magic as they seek to circumvent the work-up time of the new AC75 in build at Portsmouth, Rhode Island right now.
Interestingly as each of these Magic sessions go on, the pre-sets get defined, and everything seems calm onboard ,but it was the early flights that were tricky and marred by stops for technicians to come onboard and dive down below. So fine-tuned are these AC75s with the new closed-loop logic that any malfunction throws a huge spanner in the works and halts proceedings. The good news however is that the support operation around American Magic is highly efficient and they did a terrific job today in difficult on-water conditions to get the sailors back up and flying.
On several windward-leeward legs along the America’s Cup course, ‘Patriot’ looked dialled in and going with now three-time World Sailor of the Year, Tom Slingsby saying: “I think those are the conditions Patriot is known to be fast, she’s known to be a bit sticky in the lighter airs and a bit more bump, we’ve got anhedral foils which generally give you a little less margin in the waves and then also it’s a bit flatter bottom compared to the deep bustles so it is a bit sticky in the light. But in those conditions, half a metre to 0.7 of a metre waves maybe, and 15 to 18 knots yeah we were ripping along doing over 40s upwind – that’s pretty cool.”
Certainly through the downwind gybes, with the anhedral foils on both port and starboard, the unforgiving nature of those made-for-Auckland conditions comes to the fore with the boat gripping aggressively on the new lowered foil going into the gybe and causing a headache for the Flight Controllers (Andrew Campbell, Riley Gibbs and Michael Menninger) to maintain stability. Expect this to improve rapidly as these sessions go on though.
Speaking about the new systems onboard, unseen, deep in the hull of ‘Patriot,’ Tom added: “What the new rule with the closed loop control system does it allows you be a lot more accurate and sort of save your oil, you’re not going to overshoot systems and things like that as much, so that’s where it helps.”
And then came what we’ll chalk as ‘the scoop of the day’ for the recon team (despite Tom’s protestations) as Tom was pushed about the new design for the team’s AC75 in-build, saying: “I don’t know if I’m giving anyone a scoop here but yes the new AC75 will look different. This is a lighter air venue and I think the team and we all have learned that you’ve got to have a boat they can go in and out of the water comfortably and not get a huge drag hit when it does touchdown so yeah the boat will have a bustle – there you go!”
Interesting comment and perhaps throws a complimentary light onto the work that the INEOS Britannia design team revealed early with their LEQ12 prototype ‘T6’ and the various modifications the British did in Palma last year to their bustle profile. Low-riding, long-span flat wings and ‘bustle-skimming’ are the buzz words of the 37th America’s Cup – both upwind and down. It will be fascinating to see the new boats when they launch.
Over in Cagliari, Sardinia today it was a welcome return after a few days in the shed for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli who looked utterly sublime in their LEQ12 (as they always do), revelling in the 13-15 knots conditions and determined to put maximum pressure on their Wing 03 and new Wing 04 to extract the maximum data. This was a session of rapid pace, searing bear-aways and plenty of straight-lining to validate the computer simulations in a very real world environment.
The on-water recon team noted the sailors pushing the foils through rapid JKs and several stints of acceleration and deceleration as they assessed the stall and detachment points on the foils. The recon also noted take-off speeds between 17-18 knots and top upwind speeds of 36-38 knots whilst downwind the best guess was speeds at up to 45 knots – the bear aways were what Jimmy Spithill called “high numbers” as they really pushed the LEQ12 hard.
A few issues through the small number of tacks hinted at some issues with the Foil Cant System (FCS), as Jimmy Spithill confirmed after sailing and summarising the day, saying” “We had a pretty nice mistral breeze and nice flat water and this direction is great for going out and testing and getting data so we spent the whole day on that…there was a couple little issues with the cant system today but to be honest didn’t really affect us because the manoeuvres weren’t the focus it was all about just getting some numbers.”
Talking about the foils and how the boat feels, Jimmy added: “The boat’s going well, I mean look every foil we’ve got has got its own characteristics and you know today it was pretty nice because we could just really focus on getting some data and the breeze was stronger than we thought, tomorrow actually looks right on the top end so hopefully we can get some more sailing in but it will be interesting, we’ll see it at the very top end I think.”
And the team are eyeing an early dock-out tomorrow to make the most of sailing as the breeze is set to increase into the weekend and as Jimmy put it: “We’ll check the latest model but more than likely we’ll probably do an early roll-out and just sail as long as we can until we get blown off the water.”
Great sailing from the Italians, yet again and a real team environment shoreside totally focussed on delivering for the design team at the moment. (Magnus Wheatley)
On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: The American team’s third day on the water this week was a mixture of fast windward/leeward sailing interspersed with periods of stationary waiting for onboard issues to be resolved.
After rolling out shortly after sunrise, the American AC75 was rigged and launched by 0825 ahead of a slightly delayed dock-out at 1039. After leaving the harbour at 1055 the boat was bow-towed to the north-east for 10 minutes before sails – MN7 mainsail and J3-6 headsail – were hoisted by 1120.
Like the previous sailing session, the initial take off on port saw the boat skimming the surface in clouds of spray for 20 seconds or so before finally lifting clear of the water. This first flying session lasted five minutes before the boat dropped off the foils on the exit of the first tack. An hour break in proceedings followed this during which support crew carrying both tool bags and laptops went aboard with at least one person disappearing down the front hatch.
The boat was airborne again by 1240 for 10 minutes of fast windward / leeward sailing. Another 15-minute session quickly followed during which the boat sailed several long upwind and downwind laps along the shoreline. Gybes looked a little hesitant at times. Tacks looked more assured but there were a couple of touchdowns observed. The final session of the day started at 1345 and lasted around 30 minutes. Due to an engine issue this session was only observed from afar as the boat first headed off on a long downwind run before stopping briefly ahead of the upwind return leg.
Time was called at 1430 with the boat back on the dock at 1450. No sailing is planned for today (Friday November 17).
On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: The Italians rolled out their LEQ12 prototype at 10:10, stepped the mast and craned the yacht in by 10:25. Dock-out was scheduled for 11:30 and the shore team ran through the usual dock checks. An additional anemometer was installed on the bowsprit and some mods were visible on suction side of Wing4.
As the yacht was being towed out of the harbour, the northerly shifty breeze from 325TWA was measured at 13-15kn while main M1-1 and jib J4-1 were being hoisted. The LEQ12 began its first foiling stint with a tow-up on port tack with six crew, tacked and headed downwind for long straight-line runs, before trimming up on both boards and coming to a stop.
Several shore crew technicians jumped on board and started working on the recently installed anemometer before removing it completely. For the second foiling stint, the LEQ12 was towed up and began sailing upwind on port tack before bearing-away once again on the newest wing and heading downwind for a longer run. After one successful gybe, the LEQ12 executed a JK and pointed upwind on starboard tack.
On the upwind manoeuvre from starboard to port tack, the team seemed to be facing an issue with the FCS as out of several tacks none was fully foiling. Once in displacement, the team continued training with a self-take-off on port tack before bearing-away and repeating their routine course on the water for several stints.
At 13:45 the breeze seemed to be dropping slightly to 12-14kn from 345TWA and the J4-1 was lowered to hoist the J2-2. The yacht then was towed up by the Chase Boat and sailed for some minutes on starboard tack before suddenly depowering completely the jib for a jib clew check by the sailors. No major as another easy looking self-take-off at approx. 17-18kn and 75 degrees TWA was then executed. Then the yacht kept on sailing its routine course for two additional stints on the J2 executing two JKs to trim up towards closer to shore with more breeze and less wind chop.
On occasion, the LEQ12 slowed down until almost displacement before bearing away and accelerating again. Over the whole day, the team looked very quick in the upper wind range, upwind foiling speed of 36-38kn were displayed while 43-45kn downwind. Most of the day was spent on data gathering and perhaps some different pre-sets of cant angles were being tested. The following was recorded for the day: foiling time of 136 minutes, 12 tacks and 11 gybes [Michele Melis AC Recon].