Terry Hutchinson: Evolving to PATRIOT
Published on October 18th, 2020
As New York Yacht Club American Magic was launching the AC75 PATRIOT they will use in competition for the 36th America’s Cup, Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck checked in with Terry Hutchinson, Skipper and Executive Director of American Magic.
Congratulation on the new launch, but let’s back up and review your design progression.
We launched our first AC75 DEFIANT just after Labor Day of last year, and her first sailing day I think was September 7 in Newport, RI. We’re now a year from the day that we shut down our New England base and started packing things up for our winter home in Pensacola, FL.
We picked up again sailing our 38-foot test boat, the MULE, on December 1st in Pensacola and then the week before Christmas, we put DEFIANT back in the water, gave her another shakedown, and began sailing her January through the end of February 2020.
During that time, when was the design for PATRIOT locked in?
The beginning of 2020. For the evolution of PATRIOT, there’s a couple of different areas how the boat gets developed. There’s the where-to-next in Marcelino’s mind (Principal Designer Marcelino Botin) when progressing between the two boats. As part of that process is our observations of the other teams to analyze their hulls and study what they have.
So from the delivery of DEFIANT’s design to the builder, and the launching of Team New Zealand boat (Sept. 6) and Luna Rossa boat (Oct. 2), Marcelino is developing the race boat concept. For the first boats, the Brits and us were pretty similar, but the Defender and the Challenger of Record were quite a bit different, so you spend time analyzing strengths and weaknesses of all the teams. In the end, Marcelino spent the better part of 12 months evolving PATRIOT’s hull shape.
Is boat number one about getting it right and boat number two about getting it righter? Or is the first boat more of a test platform for ideas and not necessarily a measure of where you’re going to end up in terms of performance?
That’s a great question because in the time scale from when we got the final draft of the AC75 Class Rule to the execution of boat one, it was about eight weeks. So in a very, very simple way, you pick with the first boat a couple of different criteria that you’re going to prioritize such as stability in the hull, or features of the hull that you want to clarify, and you build the boat.
Also, since everyone is watching everyone, you have to be aware of what you want to show to your competition. With DEFIANT, there was some thought given to that.
But I think we all knew from the get-go that DEFIANT was primarily going to be a platform to teach all of us how to work together. We had a great opportunity with the MULE and we had a great opportunity with DEFIANT, so in each one of those stepping stones, you can see the team interacting and arguing and debating and coming up with ideas.
Each evolution of one of those boats is another opportunity to learn, and while Marcelino had some very clear ideas that he wanted to address, we also had these bigger picture, team-dynamic things that we were always going to be working through, so it served as a great platform for that, along with providing a really good platform for us to learn what we’re getting ourselves into with this AC75.
In the end, from the time DEFIANT’s hull lines were delivered to the time PATRIOT’s hull lines were delivered was about 18 months, so once we started building the first boat the designers went straight back into working on where to go with PATRIOT.
In terms of sailing time, there was hardly three months of overlap between when you started sailing DEFIANT and when the design for PATRIOT was finalized. That’s not much time for verification.
Correct… that is a great point. In the evolution of PATRIOT, DEFIANT definitely contributed, but the part that it plays actually is going to be the most prevalent in our ability to execute good days on the water on PATRIOT.
Sounds like PATRIOT is going to be a massive step up in performance from DEFIANT.
When you look at where the Defender is at and where the Challenger of Record is at, both their boats are pretty nice. I don’t think any of us would shy away from the fact that we’re going to have to get a lot better to win the regatta. But that’s not a criticism of anything we’ve done up to this point. It’s all aspects of the team getting better, and that’s the exciting part. The opportunity to gain and the opportunity to develop all the way through to the end of the matches, it’s all right here.
If a team ended up having to sail their first boat in the America’s Cup, who would have the best chance?
I would say Luna Rosa is probably best suited to sail their first boat. It’s a nice boat. Team New Zealand’s first boat is also a nice boat, but I think if you really have the pick of the litter, you’d pick the Luna Rosa boat. It’s a really nice boat. That’s been a reasonably consistent message all the way through. They did nice work and they’re smart guys.
And now onward with PATRIOT
She’s quite the evolution. With the development of PATRIOT, we’ve taken about a year and a half’s worth of learning, and you take in everything from the sailing that we do in the MULE to the sailing that we do in the DEFIANT to the sailing that we do in the simulator, seeking to understand different features, and then you meld it all into the race boat.
With Marcelino, who we have had great boats with, I trust in him to do his job, and more often than not, it’s there. That process that we’ve had over the last 10 years of working together, it’s always been a really good working team relationship, so we are continuing that here. We all know each other, so in that regard, it makes the discussions and the decisions and the debating much easier.
The evolution of PATRIOT is a nod towards the wind speeds in the match are 11 to 13, 14 knots. There’s a wind range there that the boat is targeted towards, and we know in the early part of the Challenger selection series, it’s windier and some of that’s been compensated for by the wind limits being different in the early round for the Challenger selection series.
What happens now is learning how to sail the boat to its potential, and that’s the exciting part. Just in the gain rate that we’ve seen in the last eight weeks of sailing DEFIANT, with both the sailors and performance, is a measurable difference.
Now we continue that with PATRIOT, and while some of the features are the same that were on DEFIANT, we have a new hull with great expectations, and we’re all excited to see that in performance.
36th America’s Cup
In addition to Challenges from Italy, USA, and Great Britain that were accepted during the initial entry period (January 1 to June 30, 2018), eight additional Notices of Challenge were received by the late entry deadline on November 30, 2018. Of those eight submittals, entries from Malta, USA, and the Netherlands were also accepted. Here’s the list:
• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)
• Luna Rossa (ITA) – Challenger of Record
• American Magic (USA)
• INEOS Team UK (GBR)
• Malta Altus Challenge (MLT) – WITHDRAWN
• Stars + Stripes Team USA (USA)
• DutchSail (NED) – WITHDRAWN
Of the three late entries, only Stars+Stripes USA remains committed, however, it is unclear what entry payments have been made, nor is there knowledge of a boat being actively built or sailing team assembled.
Key America’s Cup dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
✔ March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
✔ June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
✔ August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
✔ August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
✔ November 30, 2018: Late entries deadline
✔ March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ 2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series events (CANCELLED)
✔ October 1, 2019: US$1million late entry fee deadline (NOT KNOWN)
✔ February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ April 23-26, 2020: First (1/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Cagliari, Sardinia (CANCELLED)
✔ June 4-7, 2020: Second (2/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Portsmouth, England (CANCELLED)
• December 17-20, 2020: Third (3/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Auckland, New Zealand
• January 15-February 22, 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
• March 6-15, 2021: The America’s Cup Match
Youth America’s Cup Competition (CANCELLED)
• February 18-23, 2021
• March 1-5, 2021
• March 8-12, 2021
AC75 launch dates:
September 6, 2019 – Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Boat 1
September 10, 2019 – American Magic (USA), Boat 1; actual launch date earlier but not released
October 2, 2019 – Luna Rossa (ITA), Boat 1
October 4, 2019 – INEOS Team UK (GBR), Boat 1
October 16, 2020 – American Magic (USA), Boat 2