With a shifty offshore wind pattern and a left-over swell form, NYYC American Magic were the only team out training on Monday in Barcelona, clocking up vital systems-testing and sailor hours but battling the conditions throughout. ‘Patriot’ the warhorse American AC75, is coming to the end of its time as a test platform before the team move on into AC40 two-boat testing and training, seeking maximum time on the water and a real upscaling of the team’s race practice.
That’s the immediate future but for now it’s a full-on schedule with ‘Patriot’ and on a tricky Barcelona day, at times it was a tough watch with the Flight Controllers battling to keep the foils immersed, the power on and a ride height that made sense. The result was a difficult morning of control as Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison put the boat into uncomfortable places with ‘S’ bend round-ups and deep scallops on the rudder through the shifts.
As soon as the sea state calmed down a little, ‘Patriot’ was far more under control and as Tom Burnham the Team Coach explained afterwards: “If you’re flying it in like a really bow-down trim and really close to the water, you’re just giving yourself no margin for any waves or anything that kicks up because the biggest thing is the way the foils are offset far out to leeward, you might have the hull in a wave and the foil in a trough and next thing you know the foil’s out of the water and the hull’s touching. So it’s a lot of trying to get the boat sailing well in those waves and ideally having all of the pieces all in the same part of the sea state is the best but when it’s that puffy and that much sea state coming from so many different directions it’s pretty common that you end up with things a little bit out of whack or the foil might be perfectly at the surface where we want it just under the water the way we like it, and there might be two metres of air under the middle of the boat and then vice versa you know we get touching down in the middle and foils out of the water so it definitely makes it difficult on the guys flying the boat.”
The team eventually dialled in a virtual racecourse on the boat’s computer system out by the airport area to the south of Barcelona Port and the ensuing laps allowed the sailors to concentrate on team-work as Tom confirmed: “Part of what we’re doing is working on the communications and looking at the puffs and lulls and talking about the shifts coming and talking about boundaries coming up and where the laylines are and all that stuff and obviously it’s different when you have physical marks in the water but doing it with a virtual race course is also really helpful and especially when it’s this shifty. I don’t think our guys on the mark-set boat would be very happy having to reset the marks every two minutes with the shifts that were coming around so easier to send a new course electronically than to move them around physically.”
Asked about the value of having Patriot in Barcelona, Tom confirmed saying: “There’s still plenty to learn. I mean if we could be sailing it longer, maybe we would be, but we’ve got other things we need to move on to those so there’s always tons to learn. I think it’s been really fortunate for us to be able to have Patriot here and to be able to sail a full size AC75 here in Barcelona to be testing systems and testing different pieces of the boat, so we feel really fortunate that we’ve had this opportunity to use this boat here in Barcelona during this period.”
‘Patriot’ will be de-commissioned at the end of the month and Tom confirmed the upcoming schedule saying: “It’ll be AC40s and there’ll be some race testing and things like that there’ll be some one-design stuff, there’ll be some custom things on there, so it’s going to be a mix and match depending on the day and the week, but we’ve got a few weeks of AC40 sailing which will be really fun.”
No rest, the team are scheduled to roll-out of the shed at 0650 tomorrow morning. The grind goes on. (Magnus Wheatley)
On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: The American team squeezed in a two and a half hour sailing session aboard their second generation AC75 Patriot today, making the most of a narrow weather window that saw westerly breeze blowing from off the Barcelona airport at between seven to 12 knots.
Despite the offshore breeze only kicking up a light chop, a persistent offset swell was running ranging from 0.4 up to 0.6 metres over the day. This, combined with a shifty and up and down breeze made life tricky for the American Magic afterguard trying to keep Patriot on the foil and in stable flight.
After a chilly 0810 roll out the shore crew had the boat rigged and launched by 0840 ahead of an 0956 dock-out. The boat foiled out of the harbour on a bow tow headed south to a rigging point around 7 miles from the harbour entrance. The MN9 mainsail and J2-5 headsail were hoisted by 1040 and five minutes later the boat was up on its foils courtesy of the 10-12 knot westerly offshore wind blowing from the airport.
The focus for the day appeared to be windward leeward laps around a virtual course and the crew completed a total of six flights of between 15 and 20 minutes each. As during the previous session on Saturday January 6, the sailors looked to be having difficulty at times keeping their boat in stable flight and there were a number of failed tacks and gybes, as well as some other splashdowns – the most notable of which was a sky rocket jump and major splashdown during a round up manoeuvre from downwind to upwind.
Perhaps conscious of time restrictions, the crew stuck with the J2-5 even though the breeze was up around 12 knots at times. As the wind started to fade a little around 1215 a switch was made to the J1.5-2. However, after a tow up start at 1230 the team managed just 30 more minutes of sailing before the wind dropped below 7 knots as forecast. Time was called at 1300 with the boat arriving back on the dock at 1335. Another sailing session is expected for tomorrow Tuesday January 9.