In Barcelona, the entire NYYC American Magic team rose before dawn for an early morning sailing session. The decision proved wise, as the meteorologists and coaches accurately predicted a breeze that would diminish by early afternoon. The team made the most of the morning, embarking on a three-hour session in a challenging west-south-westerly wind, ranging from 250-270 degrees true. The session concluded with the wind shifting to a northwesterly direction at 315 degrees.
Difficult sailing conditions but having missed out on practice yesterday, the sailors were keen to get out there and despite having a few mechanical and technical breakdowns – one that almost caused a serious broach as the mainsail track appeared to get pinned on the centreline, it was a positive day for the team.
Tacks and gybes are still very much a work in progress particularly on a residual swell, left over from the Mistral conditions on Wednesday and the Flight Controllers certainly struggled at times to find the optimum ride height. Too high and an inevitable splashdown occurred, too low and ‘Patriot’ appeared to just punch the swells. A wet day for the cyclors for sure.
After sailing, Michael Menninger, American Magic’s outstanding Flight Controller, gave a hugely insightful interview to the recon team. When talking about the conditions and the problems the team faced in the swell, Michael responded: “I think we had like 17 knots down to you know, 8 knots at time. So we’re just kind of trying to stay in the breeze and…the sea state kind of played a big part in just how we were sailing the boat and just trying to get our heads around that….I mean just trying to see forward a little bit, anticipate what’s coming next is always helpful…and certainly in those conditions, I mean a forgiving, easy boat to sail would be a fast boat around a racecourse.”
In recent weeks it has become apparent that teams are trialling dual control of the mainsail and jib, Michael was certainly aware of the technology but added: “That’s something that we’re kind of questioning a bit as a team and trying to understand how that could be possible. And we definitely haven’t found the answer yet. So, we don’t really know exactly how we will do it. But I mean it’s something we’re discussing and we’re trying to wrap our heads around because there could be something there.”
And again, mast rotation is something that is visibly evident with teams actively using this system across all wind ranges to flatten and billow the mainsail – obviously more apparent in the heavier conditions but certainly effective in the lighter airs too. Michael’s view was: “ Yeah, the spar is a big heeling moment tool. There’s a lot of area on that mast, so you can definitely use the mast to heel the boat over and not heel the boat over, so it’s kind of a powering/depowering tool a little bit and then you set up the battens and how they work with the mast too. I mean it’s no secret all the all the teams have a different system and yeah there’s something there where the mast can also affect the sail, but you know there’s pros and cons to everything it seems, so just trying to get our heads around what system do we think we like the best.”
NYYC American Magic will now de-camp to Jeddah for the Preliminary Regatta with ‘Patriot’ going back into the shed for a week of maintenance and upgrades. The grind goes on in Barcelona.
On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: It was an early start for the American team this morning with their last-generation AC75 Patriot being rolled out of the hangar in darkness, an hour before sunrise. The ultra-early start was called to try to catch the best of the day’s breeze which was forecast to peak at no more than 10 knots. After rolling out at 0649 the boat was rigged and launched by 0800 ahead of an on-time dock out at 0855.
With the MN8-1 mainsail and J1.5-2 headsail hoisted by 0925, the boat left the harbour at 0935 and within minutes was airborne heading downwind on port in around 9-10 knots of breeze from 015. This initial run ended quickly after a gybe attempt that ended in a splashdown with the mainsail appearing to be pinned in tight in the middle of the boat causing it to heel steeply as it slowly turned into the wind. A Chase Boat was quickly alongside and a technician jumped aboard and headed below.
It took 10 minutes to resolve the issue before the boat was up and foiling again in a 7-knot breeze that built quickly to 11 knots from 260 by 1030, resulting in a headsail change at that point to the J3-6. An approximately 30-minute foiling session followed with the crew appearing to be having a challenging time dealing with the 0.5 m rolling swell which was running at more or less 180 degrees from the wind. At times the boat would fly too high and splash down, while at other times it could be seen to be skimming and then punching through the waves. Either mode looked to make for a wet ride for those on board.
After running out of wind briefly at 1100 the boat was tow-started and headed back into the consistently stronger (but shifty) offshore breeze blowing from the direction of the Barcelona airport. There were very few tacks and gybes during the session and none of them were foiling manoeuvres. The team stopped at 1200 to change batteries and rotate their cyclors but this break turned into an hour and a quarter stop to resolve an onboard issue down below.
The boat set off again at 1315 for a few minutes of flight that ended in a displacement tack. After an unsuccessful attempt at a tow-up, the crew got the boat airborne without assistance for the final flight of the day, which lasted around 8 minutes before the breeze suddenly dropped away below 7 knots.
Time was called at 1332 and the boat arrived back at the dock at 1412.