Judging by the number of Santa hats at the NYYC American Magic dockside team briefing this morning, the hard-working shore team are looking forward to their festive break but whilst thoughts of ‘turkey and all the trimmings’ are in mind, the determined American team still has a good few days to run with ‘Patriot’ in Barcelona.
With a building breeze and a scary forecast for later in the day, ‘Patriot’ was a solo America’s Cup participant out on the Mediterranean and docked-out in benign conditions and flat waters for a tow out east to meet the incoming offshore breeze. After hoisting the J1.5-2 jib rather hopefully, it was a mere 15 minutes of foiling before a shifting, confused wind that gusted up to 20 knots came screaming in from offshore and the call for the jagged-leeched J3 was sensibly made.
Clearly what the team were into was bedding-down the completely new system arrangement on the team’s legacy AC75 in bigger breeze and by and large today looked a very useful testing session with plenty of take-aways.
So much concentration has gone on the mainsheet system, and it would be a surprise if the sailors are entirely happy with it as on several occasions the traveller and mainsheet system seemed to be slow to react and whether that’s just a pre-set issue or something more fundamental remains to be seen.
Certainly bear-aways at pace were conducted in an orderly, flat, and fast fashion but the reaction times in the gusts, particularly downwind, will have the technicians and engineers working overtime to perfect.
On one particular downwind, with the mainsail pinned and the ride height high and getting higher, ‘Patriot’ broached (see above), and it was all on to bring her back into trim.
Lucas Calabrese was substituting today for Tom Slingsby in the starboard helm position with Paul Goodison skippering the boat from port and the Americans have three trimmers/Flight Controllers onboard in Andrew Campbell, Mike Menninger, and Riley Gibbs in rotation. The cyclors were earning their keep with huge outputs being seen at lift off as the cant system, mast rotation and sail controls are at their busiest – quite interesting and telling to watch how much effort is going in on fairly benign manoeuvres to power the myriad of completely new systems on ‘Patriot.’
In total the team completed three-and-a-half hours on the water with the recon team recording a 93% foil-to-foil rate over 20 tacks and 10 gybes. Speaking afterwards, Lucas Calabrese, such a steady hand in both the AC40 and AC75, spoke to the recon team saying: “It was actually really, really, gusty, and shifty…and yeah probably the hardest day we had since we’ve been sailing ‘Patriot.’ Also breeze and the breeze was anywhere between 7 knots and 20 knots so made it challenging but it was good to put our systems to the test and it was a great day….you’re sailing upwind at 35 knots or so and things are coming at you pretty quick and sometimes it’s hard to anticipate what those puffs are going to do and those shifts being so close to shore, but I think it was a great test for the systems and they were quite reliable today overall, so we’re happy.”
Digging into the difficulty of sailing such a powerful sailboat in shifting and puffy breeze, Lucas offered an insight, saying: “I mean you still use your eyes and try to figure out what’s coming at you and also your eye is on some other crew members to call what the wind is going to be doing so yeah all in all a hard today but good learning.”
And talking about the near-miss broach downwind, he added: “Probably not good enough anticipation of what’s coming at you or wind changing really, really, quickly so things don’t move as fast as you need them to move sometimes. But we managed to go around the course we set, so we’re pretty happy.”
With most of the teams’ sailing schedules coming to an end this week ahead of Christmas (Emirates Team New Zealand have booked out possible sailing through to the 22nd), NYYC American Magic have possible sailing days out to the 19th of December and as Lucas Calabrese confirmed: “We are going to push as far as we can and then try to re energise for next year. It’s going to be a big one!”
On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: Another day of offshore winds in Barcelona meant a tough day for the American Magic sailors aboard their AC75 Patriot as their reaction times were tested by shifty and gusty winds that ranged from seven to 20 knots (as measured by hand from the recon RIB). The team rolled their black-hulled yacht out of the hangar at 0850 this morning and had the mast stepped and the boat launched by 0935 ahead of a 1056 dock-out.
The boat was towed out of the harbour on foils at 1105 before heading east on a flat sea for around five miles to a rigging point where the MN7 mainsail and J1.5-2 headsail were hoisted by 1135. The breeze for the sail hoist was in the five to seven knot range but as the boat left the side tow at around 1140 a line of new breeze had moved in from the shore with winds around 10-11 knots.
The team’s first foiling session lasted 15 minutes and included two foiling tacks upwind before a bear away and a short fast and hectic-looking downwind run where the crew looked to be fighting for control in the gusty and shifty conditions.
A 10-minute stop at 1155 saw a change to the J3-6 headsail before the second run of the day which featured three foiling tacks and a bear away but no gybe. After a brief (sub-five minute) stop for a technician to board the boat, ‘Patriot’ was up and foiling again for 25 minutes of freestyle windward/leeward laps featuring five foiling tacks, two touchdown gybes, and one foiling gybe – as well as one precarious moment shortly after a bear away to downwind mode where the boat was flying very high and also heeling to leeward.
After a 15 minute stop the boat was back on foils for 30 minutes more freestyle windward/leeward laps (10 foiling tacks and six foiling gybes). A stop was made at 1320 for a cyclor rotation and a new battery, before the boat was back up and foiling again at 1400 for a 10-minute no-tack upwind run back to the mouth of the harbour where – with an imminent forecast of very strong winds – time was called for the day.