Monday, May 13, 2024
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupNYYC American Magic: Mastering Close-quarters Racing with the AC40

NYYC American Magic: Mastering Close-quarters Racing with the AC40

When the AC40 was envisioned, this was exactly what the designers had in mind. Desperately close-quarters racing with absolutely zero speed difference to choose between the boats, and everything left up to pure talent, positioning, and dynamite sailing. NYYC American Magic stepped ashore after a thoroughly entertaining race-practice session with smiles and the body language of winners.

© Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

None more so than Women’s Team sailor Sara Stone who stepped up into the big league of foiling sailing today doing an heroic job on trim working superbly with Harry Melges on the port side of Magic and gaining fabulous knowledge from Lucas Calabrese and Riley Gibbs on the opposite pods. Sara is a serious distance sailor with some 25,000 ocean miles under her belt and has transferred those skills to the match-race tour, foiling and TP52 racing. A name to seriously watch for the future.

© Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

With Barcelona showing spring-like conditions – a positively balmy 20° in the afternoon – the sea was flat, and the SSW wind built and filled to a mean 10 knots with a tad more in the gusts. Enough to foil easily and a perfect day for positional playbook development. The coaches mixed up the day with plenty of pre-start action before releasing the boats over a short course where the width of a blade of grass separated the two. Position is everything, and it will be too when the AC75s come roaring into life in a few months’ time, so the American Magic programme is bang on the training money.

© Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

Over eight starts, arguably honours were even and on the first race, Magic aced the combined genius of Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison to win by a few metres – that must have tasted good! Order was restored in the race to the harbour at the end, with Slingsby and Goodison just having that positional knack to get the lane and then capitalise. Expect this to be their calling card in September – tough to beat.

© Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

A valuable, high quality, three hours on the water and Sara Stone summed it up brilliantly afterwards saying: “It was really good conditions, it was much better breeze than the forecast so we’re pretty pleased. When we got out there, we thought we’d get just the edge of a dying breeze and that would be it, short day, but the wind was awesome, flat water, and yeah, we had a few hours of really good sailing.”

© Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

Sara has been training hard with the NYYC American Magic Women’s Team through the winter on the simulator so comparing that to her on-water experience today and what she took away from the session, she commented: “For sure, time in the water is the most valuable thing, the simulator is really good, and it would have been much harder for me to jump in the boat today without it, but there’s nothing like time in the actual boat…For me I think probably the biggest improvement is in the boat racing, so we had two boats out there today so to be able to work on your comms while there’s another boat that you’re racing against, going through the start line, that’s huge…Just going through the range of conditions, for sure like once it gets lighter and it gets a little bit trickier it’s harder to stay on the foil through manoeuvres, there’s less of a margin for error so the more time in those conditions.”

© Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

Having some of the greatest foiling sailors of their generation in the team and more than willing to upskill the next generation, Sara commented on how much is being shared saying: “All the time, I mean all the information that’s being shared in debriefs and when we get out on the boat, like today was my first full day out sailing so just having little tips coming all the time to help get me get up to speed faster.”

© Job Vermeulen/ America’s Cup

And the bigger picture, now that the Women’s Team has been selected, the mood in the NYYC American Magic camp seems high as Sara confirmed: “Everyone’s excited, everyone’s ready to get sailing yeah really excited…it’s really good they’ll be a lot of our women’s team working together and sailing and mixed crews over the summer, so I mean we all have known each other for a while and get along really well so it’s good.”

This is exactly what the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup organisers envisioned, and the scene is getting set for an outstanding UniCredit Youth America’s Cup and the inaugural Puig Women’s America’s Cup in 2024. Talent is shining and it’s great to see. (Magnus Wheatley)  

On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: Shore teams craned in Magic at 11:15 and AC40-5 ‘America’ 20 minutes after. Dock out was at 13:00. The welcome news today was that Women’s Team member Sara Stone was the port side trimmer on Magic. At 13:10 both boats start hoisting their mainsails: MC-5 for America and MC-4 for Magic and they paired them with J1.5 custom jibs. A nice breeze of about 7-10 knots TWD 200º was blowing at the entrance of the harbour and sea state conditions were quite flat. 

Stint 1 (13:15 to 13:49): America started sailing first as Magic was finishing their jib hoist. She sailed downwind to the start-line set by one of the chase boats close to Port Olímpic. Once in the vicinity America rounded one of the marks and sailed back upwind to meet Magic who was coming downwind to the starting line. America changed her course into a downwind once close to Magic, and they both sailed together to the starting line. From there each boat did their own warm-ups for around 15 minutes. Magic started on a small upwind before coming back to the start-line for pre-start manoeuvres and approaches to the pre-start box area. Meanwhile America stayed close to the line performing pre-start manoeuvres and approaches.

Stint 2 (13:49 to 14:24): Three pre-starts were executed with a complete windward – leeward race lap completed after the third start. In all of these pre-starts Magic was coming into the box on port gybe first with America at the other end of the line on starboard. Magic elected for the pin end on the first two starts but was early on each occasion. On the third start, America took the pin with Magic just a few metres to windward and both started well, producing a very nice windward-leeward battle that was finally won by Magic just by a few metres.

After the race they stopped for a 10 minute debrief together with the coach boats with the wind around 6-9 knots TWD 200º.

Stint 3 (14:24 to 15:37): A total of five pre-starts were executed in this stint with a complete windward – leeward race lap done after the third start and a final upwind to port done after the last start. In all these starts, except in the first one, America was getting into the box first on port with Magic on starboard.

The last 40 seconds on the approach to the line we could see great battles in between both boats with very aggressive luffs and bear-aways in a fight for the pin. Magic won the first and second pre-starts – if no penalties occurred. On the second pre-start they had a huge fight until the limit of the pin mark lay line, so they both had to tack to cross the line. Magic crossed the line first and America crossed the line after, hitting the pin mark with the windward foil arm.

The third start was very equal and so was the windward-leeward course race that was won by America by a few meters.

In the fourth pre-start, Magic took the pin and America had to tack and came off the foils after the tack, so Magic took the win.

In the last start they both came from a very leeward position and didn’t make it to the pin so both had to tack, and cross the line on port tack. This one was won by America and they went on to win the race back to the harbour with the wind around 8-11 knots TWD 200º.

Sails were dropped around 15:50 and dock- in 10 minutes after.

As a summary Magic and America foiled for 120 minutes, performed approximately 35 tacks and 32 gybes, made 8 pre-starts, 2 windward-leeward course races and one final upwind race back to port. Jose Piñana AC Recon

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