©Paul Todd/America’s Cup
American Magic, Patriot dancing like Fred Astaire
Tom Slingsby was back onboard Patriot today and after a period of straight-lining in recent sessions, the manoeuvres were back with a vengeance. A total of 48 tacks and gybes were thrown in during a thorough shake-down of the battery of new sail controls that have been implemented with some remarkable stats.
92% was the number for successful foil-to-foil tacks, and 90% for foil-to-foil gybes. Slingsby and Paul Goodison had Patriot dancing like Fred Astaire today going back-to-back on some manoeuvres as if they were escaping the clutches of an Emirates Team New Zealand slam-dunk or a Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli pre-start. It was electric to witness and yet another real step forward for the team.
The cyclor team were again absent today, awaiting some “shed testing” of new equipment according to Paul Goodison and with the crew reduced, American Magic were once again employing stored power to control the sails and foils with no flailing grinding arms or the familiar bob of cyclists. A nod to the future of the Cup? Perhaps. But Goodison alluded to the switch over to electrics saying: “We have some upgrades coming to the hydro system…this is day two or three that we've changed the power over a little bit but once the shed testing is complete with the new upgrades that are coming onboard, I think the cyclists will be back on tomorrow or the day after and hopefully we will aim to repeat a bunch of the aero tests that we did (today) with the new systems, with manual power.”
The recon unit photo team captured some detailed shots of the on-deck hydraulic bow ram that appears connected to the clew and when asked in interview afterwards, Goodison gave an insight into what the team are working on with both the mainsheet ram, carried on a second main traveller across the cockpit, and the new jib clew ram: “We've got a lot of new aero controls so we're basically cycling through those just seeing what shapes we’re able to develop with the different systems and see how they affect our take-off and then also this afternoon, we put in a bunch of manoeuvres, and we were just basically seeing how the different shapes change the feeling of the boat and if there's any performance gain.”
American Magic are very much into the philosophy of testing systems at full-scale and are pushing on impressively. Whether these new systems in their current perhaps ‘agricultural’ set-up make it to the raceboat, is debateable but the value in testing now ahead of final design sign-off is immense. Of equal importance is crew-work and the dynamic of co-ordination in any given situation, something that these long days out on Pensacola Bay are honing. Goodison gave an interesting insight into the team’s focus on performance saying: “With steering there's a little bit of a complexity about what angle you pick and then also we are able to control some of the sail functions from where we’re driving but it's basically a coordination and about communicating to the other guys when to move the foils and when to move the other aero functions to get you up in the air and going. It's just about being in sync, and like you saw the other day when we're in sync we’re getting up in very light winds and other days when we’re a bit out of sync, it's a bit more difficult.”
Patriot was very much ‘in sync’ today and the coming sessions with a revamped hydro unit will reveal more about the direction that American Magic is taking in this ultimate design race for AC37 in Barcelona. Eyes peeled.