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American Magic sail in 2023

American Magic – AC75 Version 2 – Pensacola – January 4, 2023 – Day 27

What happened in the Cup – Jan 04, 2023:

 American Magic – Patriot – AC75 – January 4, 2023 – Pensacola, Florida © Paul Todd/America’s Cup

  • American Magic sailed on Pensacola Bay and was first team to go foiling in 2023. No major upgrades to the already updated Version 2 AC75.
  • K-Challenge (France) announced as fifth challenger earlier this week. Believed to be a late Challenge. Limited details available. More information released in 10 days, however this team has some steep mountains to climb.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand not expected to start until January 16. A major storm is raging in Auckland through to Saturday, with more promised for the following week.
  • Luna Rossa had their final sail on December 19.
  • INEOS Britannia had first sail in their LEQ12, in light winds, on December 21 in Mallorca. However in a new response to their two month long towing pole issue, the Brits may have got a break with two “No” responses as to whether alternates are still classified as Mast Tubes, of hich only one is allowed on their LEQ12.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing still in shed but emerged briefly on December 19 to step mast. Revealed a lot of modifications – self tacking jib track, and a new cockpit module fitted, but no evidence at that point on the use of cyclists to replace the grinders.

Patriot sailed inshore on Pensacola on Wednesday (local time) and were the first of now six teams to start sailing in 2023.

No significant changes had been made to the near Version 2 AC75 over the December/January break.

They sailed quite impressively turning in speeds in a three hour session. Covering approximately 47 nm, comprised of 11 W/L legs, using two headsails.They completed 21 maneuvers with a total flying time of 80 Minutes. Top speeds were approximately 32k upwind/ 42kdownwind. There was a break down in the Foil Cant System which took about an hour to resolve.

The crew claimed the wind was stronger at 13-16kts, than the official notes of 9-12kts.

Two J2 jibs were trialed in the session.

Helmsman Riley Gibbs made some interesting comments about the team’s two days sailing in December offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, on the open ocean.

As has been signalled since the brief experience of racing on just one day (Day 3) in a cross-swell sea state in the 2021 America’s Cup, AC75’s are essentially flat-water boats. Although Gibbs was not on the helm on the two ocean sailing sessions in December 2022, he conceded that the sessions were not all smooth sailing, and there was work to be done.

His take was that a similar situation exists in the Nacra 17 class, of which he was US Olympic representative in Tokyo2020, and that the solution lies in adjusting sailing technique, rather than by a design trade-off.

In this exchange with the AC37 Joint Recon Team, Gibbs responded to a question on the challenges of sailing in an awkward sea-state.

“Yeah, in the first couple days out in waves, you’re gonna learn a lot and might come home with your tail between your legs.

“But what, what you lose there, you might get in somewhere else. So we came away with a lot of lessons learned.

“It’s nice to do that prior to the break with a couple days outside and really have a think over the break of where we want to go from here forward.”

The AC37 Recon observer recalled that [back in December] “it looked like there were several times that the foil was in the trough of a wave, and then the hull was on top of the wave, causing the foil to disconnect.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty consistent with foiling boats.” Gibbs responded.

“You’re gonna have a difficult time operating at your normal target speeds.”

“I think it depends a lot on the period of the wave, and the size of the wave,” Gibbs answered when asked if sailing at a lower target speed was the best response to cope with a bigger swell.

“It’s pretty difficult in this swell,” he added.


by Richard Gladwell

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