American Magic back out on the waters of Pensacola©Paul Todd / America’s Cup

American Magic back out on the waters of Pensacola©Paul Todd / America’s Cup

American Magic back out on the waters of Pensacola


06/01/2023 - 15:29

They dispersed around the globe for the holiday season but starting 2023 exactly where they left off in 2022, saw New York Yacht Club American Magic back out on the waters of Pensacola for another blistering afternoon of test sailing. The mark of this team is their relentless “commitment to the commitment” to quote the great Dennis Conner and their on-water time has been valuable, lengthy and productive. The first team back on the water, they meant business today and the Floridian winter played ball.

With Riley Gibbs taking the alternate helm for the first time today, alongside Paul Goodison with Tom Slingsby still away in Australia, the team opted to stay inshore and go through a series of windward/leeward runs to shake down Patriot after the short Christmas break. An issue internally with the Foil Cant System halted proceedings for a little over an hour whilst the expert shore team jumped onboard and solved the problem and allowed for another hour and a half of sailing into the early dusk.

American Magic back out on the waters of Pensacola ©Paul Todd / America’s Cup

As ever, the American Magic team had Patriot self-flying in the 9-12 knot afternoon breeze and the consistency of flight height was notable. So too, the flight time at 80 minutes in total with one particularly long foiling run of just over 34 minutes. These are valuable minutes airborne, feeding gold-dust data back to the design team and, whisper it quietly, the Americans are almost making it look easy such is the result of their time-on-the-water approach to this America’s Cup cycle.

The recon unit noted that at certain times pre-lift-off, the helmsmen were seeking to surf on the waves to promote flight and that could be a very useful skill to master for when the team get to the swells of Barcelona. Early flight could easily determine races in an instant. On the tack and gybe front, it was another masterclass – and particularly impressive for Riley Gibbs taking his first serious turn on the wheel. A total of 14 tacks were completed with 13 foil-to-foil and 7 gybes were noted with 5 being foil-to-foil. Respectable percentages once again.

Speaking afterwards, Riley Gibbs was pleased to be back after the break saying: “Today was great. A pretty picturesque, beautiful day in Pensacola, 70 degrees and 13-16 knots, couldn't really ask for a better day…first day on the Helm and actually pushing it and stuff. We had an issue with the FCS system. These boats are pretty complicated so you know a lot can go wrong in a very short amount of time, fortunately we've got a pretty good team to help get us back out on the water and that easily could have been a day under but you know we had another solid hour and a half two hours after that so really happy to get some sailing time in.”

American Magic back out on the waters of Pensacola ©Paul Todd / America’s Cup

Looking to the future, the team are eyeing the summer move to Barcelona with their AC40’s which will be delivered in the early European spring and with their base already under construction, it’s an exciting time for everyone in the camp as Gibbs explained when asked about the immediate and long-term goals for the team: “More sailing time would be great…we want to continue to push the development of the AC75 while we still have it. Looking ahead we've got a pretty bright future with some opportunities you know later in the year in Barcelona with two boats and really looking forward to getting to Barcelona.”

American Magic has started 2023 on the front foot and with a simply enormous star-spangled banner lifted high on the crane today, this is a team flying the American flag high and proud in this America’s Cup cycle. Bet against them at your peril. They’re scheduled to be back on the water tomorrow.

The life aboard during The Ocean Race
Transatlantic Race, dock talk in Lanzarote