NYYC American Magic signed off their 2023 sailing programme in what Terry Hutchinson described as “glamour” Barcelona conditions on Tuesday, in a decreasing breeze that yet again they had to be super-early to catch.
Craning in pre-sunrise at just after 7.30am, the dockside was alive with technicians and shore crew determined to get the early dock-out with a solid 17 knots of breeze blowing in from the north-west but by the time they docked-out at 9.30am it was a more manageable 10-12 knots beneath blue festive skies and a residual chop that developed into the usual Barcelona swell by lunchtime.
Lucas Calabrese and Paul Goodison took the wheels and put the hammer down over some initial laps marred by a few stops and starts but what was very clear is that the American Magic programme ends the year on a developmental high with plenty of the base systems bedding in well.
The big concentration remains on the mainsheet system and by and large this looked solid again today and able to develop very tight leech tensions with the micro-adjustment, that the team are looking for, evident with the head of the sail ‘flicking’ both upwind and downwind. Take-offs looked relatively easy in the conditions with the helms dialling up as the speed comes on and the trimmers co-ordinating well to keep the transition to flight smooth. A few average foiling tacks/splashdowns towards the end marred an otherwise terrific way to end the year with the recon team recording some 47 tacks and gybes with an 81% foil-to-foil ratio.
Speaking afterwards, Terry Hutchinson Skipper and President of Sailing Operations gave a wide ranging interview and summed up the day saying: “Today was our last sail in 2023 and you know I think that that session summed up probably a bit of where we are, you know we’re developing a lot and the starting and stopping and some of those aspects of it, it’s always a good reminder of how hard what we’re doing actually is and the process of developing is sometimes you know starting and stopping.”
Looking to the immediate future, Terry set out the programme for ‘Patriot’ and updated on where they are in the cycle, saying: “We have a couple more weeks when we come back in 2023 so if you look at it purely in time we’re probably 85% of the way through it, but I think you know that 85% would be a misrepresentation of the amount of work that actually still needs to be done.”
Asked about the upcoming milestones for American Magic, Terry added: “Well, we’ve got a big Christmas party tonight – that would be the first milestone! We have a couple new team members that have just come in Helena and Tom Slingsby had a baby boy last night so there’s another milestone, and the Campbells aren’t too far behind. I think as you get into first quarter next year it will be the two-boating in the AC40s and then ‘Boat3’ in late May will show up, and so you know there will be a period that we’ll be off the water as we’re prepping for ‘Boat3’ to come out and start that whole process of development, which will be exciting. It’s hard to believe that we are less than ten months from the main event in some ways and so in that regards there’s a lot to do, there’s definitely way more than ten months’ worth of work to do so we’re going to have to be efficient with our time and do a good job at managing that side of our programme.”
Reflecting on 2023, Terry clearly looks back with some pride at what’s been achieved, saying: “I think when you look at 2023 and you reflect upon it, I think we did a lot in this past year, the team did a very good job moving from Pensacola to Barcelona and getting ourselves out on the water and being as efficient as possible. We had one good regatta, and we had one bad regatta, so that shows some promise. But it was awesome for the team to win in Vilanova and equally is probably awesome that we didn’t win in Jeddah and that the Defender still demonstrated how good that they are. They sailed very well there, you can see them being very efficient with their time in the AC40, they were very efficient with their time in the AC75 here, and so from an American Magic perspective our focus has got to be on getting through the Challenger Series, and then when we get to the Match putting ourselves in the best chance that we possibly can to beat them but they’re good and you can see that they’re good, and so that’s not going to be easy for any team.”
For now, a well-earned Christmas break is due for the hard-driving NYYC American Magic team who will be looking to make 2024 a very memorable year. (Magnus Wheatley)
On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: For its last sailing day of 2023 the NYYC American Magic syndicate repeated its pre-dawn roll out strategy to take advantage of the same offshore 10 – 12 knot north westerly conditions as yesterday – Monday December 18.
The team’s legacy AC75 Patriot was rolled out in the dark and cold at 0715 and was rigged and launched by 0747 ready for an on-time dock-out at 0930. Just as yesterday, the team foil towed the boat out to a spot just past the Sierra shipping buoy offshore from the Barcelona airport. There, in an already 10-12 knot breeze from 300 degrees, the crew hoisted the MN9 mainsail before choosing the J3-6 over the J2-5 headsail that had originally been brought aboard.
The boat was up and foiling in a light chop at 1010 for a twenty-minute flight around a virtual windward / leeward course that ended with a spin out touch down gybe at 1030. It was not clear what caused the spin out but when we got close to the yacht with the chase boat alongside there seemed to be some attention being given to the mainsheet and main traveller systems – but whether there had been a repeat of the lock up issue previously experienced was impossible to determine.
There then followed a series of three short (<3-minute) flights before a longer stop at 1100 to change to the J1.5 headsail. A 20-minute flight followed – sailed in 11 knots of wind – followed immediately after by another flight of roughly the same length. By midday the breeze was beginning to ease back to the 8-10 knot range and the team opted to switch to the J1 headsail to compensate.
The final 20-minute flight of the day saw the team sail upwind towards the harbour entrance as far as the breeze would take them. With the breeze inshore virtually non-existent time was called at around 1310 with the boat docking in for the final time this year at 1340.