wenty years ago, in the America’s Cup you had a fast boat if you had gained 30cm on a two-mile windward leg in displacement. Today, despite the astonishing speeds of the foiling monohulls of the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup, the marginal gains look to be back.
On a pitch-perfect, if a little chilly, Barcelona winter’s day albeit with Spring round the corner, NYYC American Magic headed out for more relentless two-boat testing, eking out the gains in their aero-package with their full wardrobe of LEQ12, in-house sails. With a stable breeze up to 15 knots and a moderate sea-state, both of the team’s LEQ12 moded AC40 lined up against each other for massively long foiling runs, almost reminiscent of IACC or 12 Metre testing back in the day, and with huge telemetry coming off the boats and into custom data collection buckets, this was a valuable day. Rotating helming partnership and trimmer combinations equalled-out any manual talent input and after almost five hours on the water, the team returned to the base with smiles on their faces.
Tom Burnham, the American Magic Team Coach, highlighted the importance of these long sessions, saying: “It’s critical, every week is critical but this is a really important period for us here doing a bunch of sail testing and set-up testing and it’s been awesome, it’s actually been a lovely surprise with how great the weather’s been the last two weeks here in Barcelona you know obviously it’s winter time and you’re not sure exactly what you’re going to get but we’ve had great sea-breezes for the last two weeks and still one more day of it tomorrow before it gets nasty on Friday. But yeah, it’s been super important for our programme and really great testing and making a lot of progress that’s really good.”
And with so much of this America’s Cup being fought inside super-computers whirring away all over the globe, Tom saw the value of the real-world testing, saying: “We’re just validating things that we’ve had in the test list and learning stuff about sail trims and sail designs and things like that that. You can look at it in a computer all you want, but there’s nothing like getting it on the water and having everybody get to see what it really looks like and get a feel for it and be able to make comments about how sails are setting up or how the boat feels with a different cant setting or whatever, so it’s just so important to get it in the real world and not only in a computer.”
Taking that data into meaningful analysis is the real game in town and Tom spoke about the team behind NYYC American Magic’s software engineering team saying: “Everything is custom built, we’ve got a couple of guys on our team who have custom made the software that we use for analysing all the data and doing the debriefs and having the video and audio all synced with the data it’s pretty impressive. These guys have been working at this one programme for a couple of Cup cycles now and it’s pretty refined and works really well.”
Asked whether they’re seeing any surprise data in the numbers, Tom answered: “No nothing earth shattering, a lot of it is confirming what we already know and then making small refinements and adjustments as that’s what this game is all about all those little small gains are what add up to a big gains in the long run.”
Marginal gains but big steps forward for the American team who look dynamite smart on the water and are really making the most of the Barcelona winter testing. More to come tomorrow before the weather closes in at the end of the week.
On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: NYYC American Magic completed a second day of AC40 two boat testing on a day which saw a southerly wind up to 15 knots kicking up a moderate chop on the waters off the Barcelona city front. Once again, the focus was on long periods of straight-line sailing to enable the team to gather performance data on some custom mainsails and a range of headsails.
The shore crew rolled out the AC40 America first this morning at 0855 and had the boat rigged (America’s mast now sporting matching branding to the one on Magic) and launched by 0925. Once in the water a team of technicians and their laptops spent an hour setting up and testing the boat’s systems with helmsman Paul Goodison joining in this process for a while in the starboard helming pod.
The AC40 Magic was rolled out at 1050 and rigged and launched by 1125. The two boats docked out at 1225 and by 1250 had sails up at the harbour entrance (America with a C5 mainsail and J2 headsail; Magic with a C4 headsail and J2 headsail). Both boats were up on foils at 1305 in 10 knots of breeze for a 15 minute fast downwind run with five foiling gybes.
With the wind ramping up to 14-15 knots the crews changed to J3 headsails. A second flight lasting 55 minutes saw the boats complete two long windward / leeward laps in close formation with two foiling tacks and two foiling gybes.
After a 15-minute break the boats set off on a third flight – this time lasting 30 minutes – featuring a long windward / leeward lap that saw just one foiling tack and two foiling gybes. A 30-minute stop saw the teams change headsails – America to J2 C3; Magic to J2 C4 – and the sailors rotated between the boats. The final session was a mammoth one hour and 10-minute flight that was a huge windward / leeward lap followed by a final upwind match race back to the harbour. This final stint finished at 1655 with both crews bearing away into the harbour to drop sails in the main basin.
Dock-in was at 1715. Another sailing day has been scheduled for tomorrow Thursday February 8. No sailing is scheduled for the following three days.