Saturday, July 20, 2024
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NYYC American Magic Springs Back into Action

Barcelona is very much coming back to life with many of the teams returning after a well-earned Christmas and New Year break. Shore teams are busy in preparation and the bases are buzzing again. INEOS Britannia was the first to sail in 2024, commissioning their new AC40 now christened ‘Sienna’ presumably after Hannah Mills OBE’s daughter, and have put in a few solid days of on-water one-design sailing. No recon follows the AC40s in OD mode, so the first official action was Saturday with the hard-charging NYYC American Magic programme springing back into action after spending the day before going through an extensive on-water and off-water rig-tuning process.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

The America’s Cup venue in winter is a hotch-potch of weather systems, capable of serving the whole gambit of conditions and today’s forecast looked promising but failed to materialise under beautiful but chilly blue skies that delivered a shifty west-north-westerly. The Magicians were keen to ‘shake off the New Year dust’ to paraphrase Terry Hutchinson but it was a stop-start day with so much emphasis on nailing the systems that will eventually be transferred almost directly onto their new raceboat currently in build on the east coast of America.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

With the cats-paws gusts filtering across from off the coastline, the Flight Controllers (Riley Gibbs and Mike Menninger) really had their work cut out to try and keep Patriot on the foils and achieve any kind of flight consistency. At times, large broaches could be seen with Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison bearing away rapidly or heading up into an inevitable splashdown. As soon as there was any consistency in the breeze, the consistency in flight became apparent but a tricky afternoon all round for sure.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Once again attention was focussed heavily on the mainsheet, traveller and connecting battening system that runs along the foot of the sail and at one point a crew-member was seen climbing inside the skins to check out issues as Terry confirmed: “Unfortunately we had a little bit of a batten issue which caused today to be short in there at the end, so I think they kept on hearing funny noises coming out of the back of the spar and so the easiest way is to kind of poke your head in to go through that backside there…” That may well have curtailed their day but overall, the traveller system definitely looked on point and the new double mainsheet yokes appeared to be working as intended – a step on from just before the Christmas break.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

The team fitted one of their legacy deep cord rudders for today’s session with a camera trained on to try and understand the rudder-shake issues they encountered in Auckland in 2021 and presumably have encountered since in both Pensacola and Barcelona. The on-water Recon Team also had a decent take-away in terms of pitch with the Americans running more bow-up mode although Terry explained it, saying: “I don’t think that was intentional, but I agree with you I noticed the same thing. I think a lot of it is we were using a small jib down-range and so they’re trying to make sure that the foils are working and getting the boat to be balanced properly.”

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

In an interesting interview, Terry also confirmed that Patriot only has a “couple more weeks” of active service (before they switch back to AC40 race training) and on foil design said: “For sure, the deadline for us has passed. I don’t know about the others, but you’d have to think from a manufacturing perspective if you wanted to launch a boat anytime in June you would be pretty pressed up against it to be much later than what we are today.”

A good start to 2024 for NYYC American Magic, more to come on Monday when it’s also expected that Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli will continue their training in Cagliari also. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: The NYYC American Magic syndicate began the new year with a four-hour sailing session aboard Patriot – the team’s second generation AC75 used in AC36 – that saw the US crew dealing with a shifty and inconsistent west to north-west breeze that ranged from 7 knots up to a peak of 15 knots during the day.

Patriot was rolled out this morning at 0825 and was rigged and launched by 0900 ahead of a 1026 dock-out. The team had introduced a different wider-chord rudder than used prior to the Christmas break, as well as a new AIDA brand camera fitted flush with the hull on the starboard side just below and slightly forward of the ‘tsi’ branding. The camera appeared to be set up to film the starboard foil, however in the recon interview, when asked about a new camera, Terry Hutchinson referred to it as being focused on the rudder – which suggests there may be another new camera in the aft underwater section of the hull.

After leaving the harbour on a side tow at 1037 Patriot was bow-towed offshore for 10 minutes to a rigging point where the crew hoisted the MN7 mainsail and J1.5-2 headsail. The breeze at this point was 6-7 knots from 340 degrees.

Patriot set off on the first sailing session of the day at 1120 but took five or more minutes to get foiling. After a foiling tack, three foiling gybes, and a touchdown gybe the boat stopped at 1145 for a headsail change. The rarely used J3-4 was hoisted but appeared to fail to engage with the halyard lock so was replaced by the regularly used J3-6. The breeze at this stage had shifted to between 270 to 290 degrees and was coming through in pulses of between 10-11 knots up to 14-15 knots.

We noted all day that the boat seemed to be pitched more bow up and flown higher than we have previously seen. It was also noticeable that the crew appeared to be struggling to keep control and maintain smooth flight – possibly down to the shifty gusty conditions or perhaps the new rudder was proving hard to get to grips with. Whatever the reason there were a number of precarious looking moments during the day.

After a tow-up and a 15-minute flight that included just one manoeuvre – a splashdown gybe – the crew stopped for a battery change and to rotate in cyclor John Croom, as well as changing up to the J2-5. During this stop a great deal of attention appeared to be paid to the aft corner of the mainsail, although it was not possible to identify any specific issue. In the recon interview Terry Hutchinson mentions an issue with one of the battens. Four more short towed-up flights followed before time was called at 1450. Dock-in took place at 1515.

The American team’s next possible sailing day is Monday January 8.

American Magic, Day 63 of AC75 (B2), Sailing day with Patriot in Barcelona. - 6January2024. 37th America’s Cup Recon.
Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup
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