PATRIOT is Back | PRADA Cup – Sail+Leisure
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PATRIOT is Back | PRADA Cup

by Ingrid Hale
American Magic PATRIOT is back - PRADA Cup

New York Yacht Club American Magic, the U.S. Challenger for the 36th America’s Cup, re-launched PATRIOT after she capsized during a Prada Cup Round Robin race on January 17. After nine days of intense boatbuilding and systems work inside the team’s base, the AC75 returned to the Waitematā Harbor roughly 48 hours before her first Prada Cup Semifinals match. American Magic will face Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli on Friday, January 29.

“We had a pretty good setback,” said Terry Hutchinson, Skipper and Executive Director of American Magic. “But the measure is always going to be how we respond to it. We can’t dwell on the past; the only thing that we can control is our future.”

She’s back

Wednesday’s rollout, launch and dock-off was a sequence that has been completed nearly 50 times since PATRIOT’s christening. However, this re-launch was anything but routine for the team’s families and fans as they crowded the shoreline of Auckland’s Wynyard Basin. Nine days of production with decisions and high-stakes engineering were accompanied by thousands of messages sent to American Magic from supporters around the world.

“It’s awesome to have so much support, support from the families, support from back home and support from the New Zealand community,” said James Lyne, Sailing Team Coach for American Magic. “It’s a great feeling.”

The crash and capsize on January 17 ripped a sizable hole in PATRIOT’s port side hull, just ahead of the foil arm. Images of the damaged yacht being lifted free of the ocean in near-darkness, the hole clearly evident, had reverberated around the world in the days t

A message of thanks

When PATRIOT re-emerged she sported a prominent message of thanks to the other teams and to the Auckland community at large, who had rendered timely and invaluable assistance during the incident. The bandage-shaped graphic, which was also directed at the team’s global group of well-wishers, was placed over the previously damaged section of the hull. PATRIOT spent nearly seven hours on the water today, encountering very light wind early on in the session. When the stronger breeze arrived, PATRIOT completed several laps of the inner harbour and conducted drills near Rangitoto Island. When asked if the yacht felt the same, Hutchinson’s answer was succinct. “45 knots. So yes, it did.”

Hutchinson also noted that while the boat felt good, speed is not the team’s true measure of success. “Our measure is the scorecard. We know that we have to go out and have some good races over the weekend.”

“We’ve just got to back ourselves, trust ourselves and do what we would’ve done normally,” said 8-time America’s Cup veteran Sean Clarkson, one of the team’s grinders and the reserve main trimmer. “We’ve got a great boat, a great crew. We’ve just got to do it. We’re very fortunate, very grateful to the shore crew, the design team and the general public. They’re behind us and they got us here.”

Training days

With Emirates Team New Zealand and INEOS Team UK training for parts of the day in close proximity to American Magic, Auckland was once again treated to the arresting spectacle of multiple 75-foot hydrofoiling monohulls engaged in full-pace training.

“Coming into the harbor, I was sort pinching myself [in terms of] how lucky I am,” said Clarkson. “We’ve just got to grab it and win it. One step at a time. This weekend’s a big one, but it’s just one step.”

Bringing her back to life

After nearly losing PATRIOT following her capsize, American Magic had just 11 days to get the boat and all of her many systems ready to race in the PRADA Cup semifinals. The team faced both a formidable job list and another test of resilience. Would more than three years of tireless effort, innovation and ambition end in one afternoon of setbacks on the Hauraki Gulf? With skill, resolve, and the aid of both its fiercest competitors and most steadfast supporters, the U.S. Challenger for the America’s Cup brought the AC75 back to life.

 

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