©Paul Todd/AMERICA’S CUP
American Magic testing programme continues in Pensacola on the AC40
New York Yacht Club American Magic made the absolute best of a light-weather training day in Pensacola on Friday with the sailors working hard on technique whilst also gathering crucial foil data as the testing programme continues with their new starboard anhedral on the AC40 that is now in full-on LEQ12 development mode. The team also declared a new mainsail and number 2 jib as they seek to scale-test ahead of their new AC75 that will go into build in the next few months.
As a gauge of the level that the sailors are operating at, they put in a new record number of manoeuvres, completing an astounding 104 tacks and gybes over a session that lasted almost six hours from dock-out to dock-in. The team are highly committed to the programme and the techniques being honed are impressive. The team’s signature bow-down windward heel upwind technique was executed beautifully with Paul Goodison and Tom Slingsby showing smooth as silk helming whilst both flight control and trim were pin-point accurate to keep the power on. The new mainsail looked relatively flat but with a very even break all the way up the leech, similar to what we are seeing with Emirates Team New Zealand so the suspicion is that the new sail may also be housing new controls hidden within the double skin.
On port tack with the new anhedral foil, the sailors went through a number of cant sweeps trying different angles and they certainly seem to have the measure of it. Flight was low and powerful and take-offs were rapid with ‘America’ popping quickly onto her foils. As the breeze built into the afternoon, the sailors went for it on a short racecourse with double-board manoeuvres being practised in the pre-start as we’ve seen with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in recent days and a lot of work on the transition from double-board to single board flight being executed. The session was abruptly ended however as debris in the water was fished out by the Chase Boat crew and the recon unit suspected that ‘America’ may well have hit the submerged wooden pylon piece that was floating in the Bay.
Debris damage aside, American Magic very much look the real deal having exceuted an almost perfect winter of training and the first pre-regatta in Vilanova in September will be fascinating to see how this team performs relative to the other America’s Cup teams in this cycle. On paper they are very much a team to watch.
Andrew Campbell, one of the team’s key Flight Controllers gave a superb interview after sailing on Friday and is more than keen to get racing the AC40, saying: “I've never sailed in Vilanova before but I'm definitely excited to be there. There are a lot of great spots on that South Coast of Spain facing the Mediterranean that we've all sailed before, but this will be a new one for many of us and you know we're excited about a new venue. Expectations are that it will be similar to Barcelona in a lot of ways, it's not that far away and now we're looking forward to making the most of it…any time we can get the team into a racing format it puts us under pressure and that gives us a better chance to be ready on race day when we get the AC75 on the water so looking to get this team racing in any way we can but you know in a format that looks like the AC75 in the AC40, that's the greatest opportunity we could possibly ask for.”
Talking about the day’s sailing and what the goals were for the day, Andrew commented: “I think we made it through most of our boxes today. The majority of our conversation is just about looking at the foils, looking at how they are different and looking at how they're behaving in these lighter conditions. We've been sailing with those foils in plenty of breeze and this is the first day we really had a kind of a consistently light air day, so we need to see it in those conditions. We think Barcelona is going to have those conditions so it's a priority for us to make sure we make the most of the light air days and push them in ways that we expect to see them pushed as we move forward into the Mediterranean.”
And speaking about the new declared mainsail, Andrew gave a broader view which was a good insight into the workings of the team: “Our Quantum Engineering squad is putting a lot of good products together that we need to test and have ready to scale up for the big boat, so you know all of these projects are in scale for the big boat and the priority for us is to make sure we go through the design process, make sure we go through the build process, and then make sure we understand how it performs on the water and whether it's up to expectations so yeah all the finishing details, all the build structures and all that stuff has to be kind of understood, developed, and practised. We’ve got to practise on the shore side too so a part of this process is just going through the motions making sure we've got all our systems up and running and on shore side to make sure that we’ve got a product that we know will perform well on the water.”
‘Performance’ is a big word in the lexicon of the American Magic team at the moment and their on-water ability is unquestioned. Another record day, they just get better and better. The programme continues, at pace, this week. Good things happening in Pensacola.