New York Yacht Club American Magic (“American Magic”), the U.S. sailing team challenging for the36th America’s Cup, finished second at one of the team’s first competitive events, the 2018 Congressional Cup. The preliminary Ficker Cup (April 13-15) and the subsequent Congressional Cup (April 18-22), a World Sailing Grade One match racing regatta, represented American Magic’s first steps towards assembling a world-class racing team for the 2021 America’s Cup. American Magic Executive Director and Skipper Terry Hutchinson (Annapolis, Md.) led the team through 46 races spread across 12 days and two high-level events in Long Beach, California.
“So far, the overall experience has been very good,” said Hutchinson. “The Ficker and Congressional Cups were an opportunity to test ourselves, to see where we are, and to apply some pressure [to our team]. Over 12 days, American Magic had a [won-loss] record of 39-7 against some really strong competition. Unfortunately, we didn't win on the last day of the Congressional Cup, but we did a lot of really good things as a team.”
After a decisive win in the Ficker Cup, a Congressional Cup qualifier, American Magic submitted the best record of any of the ten teams in the round-robin stage of the Congressional Cup, with a score of 16-2. American Magic then defeated Sam Gilmour’s Neptune Racing Team in the semifinals 3-1 before finishing 1-3 in a closely contested Congressional Cup final against three-time champion Taylor Canfield and US One.
“When you keep the big picture in mind, when you think about what our true objective is, and also when you consider our limited time sailing together, I'm incredibly happy with the progress that we made,” said Hutchinson. “Obviously on Sunday you want to win, so we were clearly disappointed. We'll feel the sting of that, and we'll be better for it.”
American Magic helmsman Dean Barker (Park City, Utah) praised Canfield, US One and the eight other teams competing for the 2018 Congressional Cup. “The standard stepped up quite a lot in the Congressional [Cup], and I think we did a really good job during the round robins to take advantage of the extra sailing we'd done in the Ficker Cup,” said Barker, an America’s Cup veteran.
“We also tried to just keep developing,” continued Barker. “With Taylor, we knew it was going to be tough, given that he’s won it three times. It just felt like we made a couple too many little mistakes which in the end put us on the back foot even though it was a very close series all the way through.”
Both Hutchinson and Barker indicated that the summer of 2018 would be a busy one for American Magic, with design work for the AC75 class, the cutting-edge boats set to be used in the 36th America’s Cup, already well underway.
“This design process is really important for not only understanding the [AC75 class design] rule, but also to start looking at the opportunities that exist [within the rule].” said Barker. “We’ll be working as much as we can with the design group just to keep pushing the envelope there. With the first boat able to be launched at the end of March in 2019, it's a real scramble and a race against time really trying to do as much design work as we can and still get a boat in the water.”
Hutchinson, Barker and other American Magic sailors will also be active on QUANTUM RACING, the TP52 class racing team led by American Magic Team Principle Doug DeVos (Grand Rapids, Mich.). The TP52 Super Series will provide further sailing team development opportunities for the U.S. America’s Cup challenger.
“I'd give the guys really high marks for doing that this week in California,” said Hutchinson, “It was important for us to set a baseline, and that’s exactly what we did.”