Floodlights, hi-vis jackets, and head-lamps were the order of the day for NYYC American Magic who called for a pre-dawn launch of ‘Patriot’ to snatch a small weather window of Barcelona breeze out towards the airport. And there was good reason to push with a new mainsheet system that the team were desperate to hide from the prying lens of the recon photographer with several of the crew crowded around as the mini-boom hydraulic ram was connected.
Watching American Magic sail in the AC40 is a lesson in mainsheet control with Riley Gibbs and Michael Menninger working the leech repetitively to keep the power on.
However, the translation up to the AC75 hasn’t been as smooth as the team would have wished with last week’s system sticking at times and unable to deliver the power control. Now what’s been introduced, albeit shrouded by bodies, can be seen to have bridged the gap and on today’s evidence out sailing in fairly light airs, the leech control was on point.
For sure, the team will be looking forward to the day that they can strap on new sails to really see the effect of the mainsheet system upgrade but it was a decent session with the trimmers really able to control the all-important leech tension through the gybes and post tack. Big step forward on last week.
The team docked-out bang on 9.30am and were back on the dock by 12.40pm having executed some 32 manoeuvres, the vast majority foil-to-foil and ‘Patriot’ looked somewhere close to her best with stable trim and easy flight whilst Lucas Calabrese, standing in for Tom Slingsby, and Paul Goodison went through a series of test move ‘S’ bends to try out the new mainsheet and push the cyclors hard after a bike upgrade over the weekend.
Speaking afterwards, Paul Goodison, always fantastic in interview, summed up the day saying: “We’ve got heaps of systems stuff going on, it’s kind of the same every day, lots changing in bike world and lots of changing in all the automation of different functions and we’re slowly ticking through the list. Another good day for it to be honest.”
When asked about mast rotation, something that all the teams are working hard on to enhance both at full scale and in the LEQ12 and AC40s, Paul added: “The mast is an incredibly powerful tool on how the boat sails, how the sail shape is affected on the sail behind it but also at the angle of attack that you are to the breeze whether you’re powering the spar up, depowering the spar, changing the cambers in the mainsail behind it so it’s the same as last time, there’s heaps of work to do on how you set it up and it’s always a learning process.”
The Americans have one more sailing session planned before their Christmas break and they go into the New Year high on confidence. Talking about the team morale, Paul added: “There’s definitely a lot of momentum behind the team but the one thing the team’s done a really good job of is planning the training blocks – we’ve got clear objectives for each block, we’re just coming to the end of another block, everybody’s been working really hard to get us out this morning, and every morning, so it’s nice to see like the finish line coming towards us and like everybody is ready for a Christmas break and then we’ll hit the New Year running.”
The American Magic New Year will see them three boat sailing with the AC75 and the team’s two AC40s to keep the race practice and foil development up. It could well be the year of American Magic – there’s something in the air. Watch this space. (Magnus Wheatley)
On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: NYYC American Magic’s weather team proved their worth today with a pinpoint prediction of the only wind band for many miles around – a localised 7 – 12 knot stream off Barcelona’s international airport blowing from 300 early this morning. With the best of the breeze expected to last only until midday, the American team rolled out their last-generation AC75 Patriot at 0715 and in pre-dawn darkness had it rigged and launched before 0800 ready for an on-time dock-out at 0930.
Prior to dock out, some strategic body positioning by the shore crew hid the configuration of Patriot’s hydraulic mainsheet system (see image). The boat left the harbour on foils for a 15-minute tow on flat seas to find the early signs of the predicted north-westerly wind.
Having hoisted the MN9 mainsail and J1.5-2 headsail by 1010, the boat set off five minutes later and was soon up and foiling around what appeared to be a virtual racecourse. Aside from an initial touchdown tack, this first flight lasted 30 minutes and included five foiling tacks and four foiling gybes.
A stop was made at 1040 for what looked to be a battery swap with the boat off again at 1048 for 30 more minutes of windward leeward laps. Tacks looked assured but on the entry to the gybes the crew often looked – from our vantagepoint, at least – precariously close to losing the rudder. With the breeze slowly starting to ease down in strength a stop was made at 1130 to change to the J1-5 headsail.
After 15 minutes of trying to take-off, the boat was put on a bow tow at 1205 for a very brief flight that ended in a touchdown tack. With the breeze evaporating quickly now the call was made for a foiling tow back to the harbour where sails were dropped by 1230 with dock in taking place at 1240.