Monday, April 22, 2024
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NYYC American Magic Endurance and Tenacity in Testing Conditions

Wow…what a day for NYYC American Magic who persisted with their one-boat training session, more out of necessity than design, but put in one heck of a long session of over five hours in tricky, variable and downright honking conditions on the course for the 37th America’s Cup off the beautiful beachfront of La Barceloneta.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Andrew Campbell jumped into the Trim/Flight Control role today and teamed up with the hard-driving Mike Menninger whilst once again Paul Goodison and Lucas Calabrese made a superb pairing on the helm with good communication and co-ordination through the transitions. Those transitions were tough today though and at times, particularly on the bear-aways at the top mark, under the imposing W-Hotel sat on the southern end of the Port Vell, it was what racing sailors describe as “hairy.”

Terry Hutchinson summed it up well after coming ashore and speaking to the recon team, saying: “I think what you see in bearing-away in 22-23 knots on the thing it’s got a lot going on and on a couple of those they bore away and they’re sitting on 47-48 knots of boatspeed so there’s some things happening there for them.”

An understatement for sure, but what we saw as the session went on and the wind increased was a crew really getting to grips with technique. On those specific bear-aways, the mode of the boat started to change to a squat, stern almost in, and the bow raised as the helms dialled away initially, got to speed and a modicum of windward heel, and then with less apparent wind bore away to course. Almost a three-move bear-away but highly co-ordinated.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Down at the leeward gate, at astonishing speeds, it was a huge treat to see the one-board round-up, a killer move when racing and executed well as we saw in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at the Preliminary Regatta where the Kiwis aced a similar move and stole the lead from the Swiss. Today, Calabrese and Goodison were fearless, calling in the on-boarder and for certain, getting it far more right than wrong. The difficulty rating of this, especially at the upper end of the breeze range is not to be underestimated.

Another notable from the day was seen on the few occasions when ‘America’ fell off her foils and the Trim team went into almost dinghy-mode, dropping massive depth into the lower part of the LEQ mainsail and then pumping the traveller aggressively to will/force the boat back onto its foils and coax the mode to reverse the windward heel and get flying again. It worked great with the gusts and more often than not, the AC40 responded and flew off without the need for a cant reset. Amazing to see the immediate control that the Trim team have at their disposal. 

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

Today’s session was planned as a mix of sail trim evaluation and pre-starts but as Terry Hutchinson said: “The day started out in pretty good J3 conditions,16-18 knots, and we stopped the racing because it was 21/22/23/24 knots kind of up there in the corner and so it felt a bit prudent to just get into some of the straight line stuff that the guys want to cycle through so I think if the breeze had stayed down just a little we would have kept on doing the pre-starts and the laps but Mother Nature had another plan for us.”

Mother Nature in Spring-time Barcelona on the back-end of winter certainly calls for adaptability and the fast lap free-sailing ended up dominating the day – almost certainly to the delight of the sailors. The recon team noted that ‘America’ was sporting its LiDar camera today with a lateral orientation – different to yesterday’s fore and aft orientation – but also noted that itv was missing when returning to dock. Terry quickly updated on that saying: “Not deliberate! Again Mother Nature you know, water coming across the deck at 40 knots has had some impact to it…”

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

The day was curtailed with a sensor issue, otherwise the sailors would have been there all night, with Terry saying: “Yeah, we had a sensor in the starboard flap fail and you know it’s a good reminder for us about the redundancy programme going forward. There’s areas of the boat that you need to make sure you have a back-up when you’re racing because obviously that’s a show-stopper and we don’t want to lose a race because of it.”

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

No interview with the boss would be complete without a question about the upcoming AC75, and with many players ‘oohing and aahing’ over the ‘radical’ nature of what’s being created in their build sheds, Terry had a different, and very knowledgeable take on it, saying: “I think the rule defines what we can and can’t do. I’m sure you’re going to see the fleet’s going to be different than what the boat was in Auckland…I’m not sure what ‘radical’ means in these boats because the rule does a good job of defining what it can be.”

Still no official word on the launch date for the NYYC American Magic AC75 but on today’s sailing performance, this is a team right in the mix at the front of the fleet. (Magnus Wheatley)  

On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: The American challenger made the most of a day of medium to top end wind conditions to round off a three-day block of single boat race training. The US AC40 ‘America’ was rolled out at 0855 and was rigged and launched by 0920. Noted on the foredeck was the previously used LiDAR unit that was yesterday mounted with a fore and aft orientation but today was setup laterally.

After docking-out at 1055 the MN C3 mainsail and J3 one design headsail were hoisted by 1120 with the boat out of the harbour and quickly up on foils by 1130 in 10 knots of breeze. After an initial downwind run that saw five foiling gybes the crew turned upwind for a four foiling tack beat, followed by a two foiling gybe run.

Shortly after midday two consecutive pre-start attempts were aborted after the boat fell off the foils during manoeuvres in the final minute. A 15-minute stop followed during which two technicians came aboard and disappeared down the front hatch.

At 1230 the boat set off on a practice pre-start and two lap race. This race began in 14 knots of breeze but ended in 16-20 knots – conditions that saw the crew wrestling for control during bear aways and roundups and a number of high-speed touch and go splashdowns.

After swapping headsails to the J3 C1 the team completed a second practice race in winds measured from the recon boat as in the high teens to 20 knot range. At the finish of this two-lap race, the boat headed briefly upwind (two foiling tacks) before bearing away on starboard to begin a very long downwind run with six foiling gybes.

After a 20 minute stop the boat set off upwind on starboard tack for a long beat back to the harbour. However, after falling off the foil on the first tack the boat limped on port in displacement mode towards shore before tacking on to starboard again and foiling up closer to the harbour. The issue – later identified in the interview with Terry Hutchinson as a ‘failure to the sensor on the starboard foil flap’ – put an end to the day.

No recon sailing is scheduled before Monday February 26.

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