These innovative AC75 vessels incorporate the technology of a Formula One race car and a jet airplane. They lift out of the water on foils and literally fly around the racecourse with breathtaking speed.
Hutchinson quite accurately wondered aloud if Barker is “the helmsman or the pilot?” Campbell controls the flight of the boat using a display box that manages the foils, canting angles and boat trim.
Barring debilitating injury, which is quite possible in these potentially dangerous racing machines, those three sailors — Barker, Goodison and Campbell — will comprise the afterguard of American Magic when it competes with Challenge of Record Luna Rossa of Italy and Ineos Team UK.
Hutchinson, an Anne Arundel County native, was introduced to foiling during his time with Artemis Racing in 2011 and 2012. He led the Swedish challenger to victory in the match racing portion of the America’s Cup World Series at both the Naples and Venice regattas.
Hutchinson and Artemis Racing mutually parted ways prior to the 2013 America’s Cup in San Francisco. That campaign came to a tragic end when the first of the AC72 foiling catamarans the team was testing capsized, killing crew member Andrew “Bart” Simpson.
In his role as American Magic skipper and executive director, Hutchinson is responsible for managing the campaign from soup to nuts. The Harwood resident consults with syndicate principals Doug DeVos, Hap Fauth and Roger Penske on all matters, but ultimately must make the difficult decisions.
“When it comes to getting American Magic prepared for the America’s Cup, the buck stops with Terry,” said Fauth, who holds the title of chief executive officer of American Magic.
It was Hutchinson who ultimately made the call to turn a traditional 38-foot monohull into a foiling prototype for testing purposes; Hutchinson who ultimately decided to have American Magic builds its own boats; Hutchinson who elected to contract with Offshore Spars in Detroit, making it the only one of four America’s Cup entries not using Southern Spars of New Zealand.
Hutchinson, who has captured 15 world championships during his illustrious 30year career as a professional sailor, served as sailing manager for a series of grand prix race boats owned by DeVos and Fauth. The two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year has called tactics for Fauth aboard his Maxi 72-footer Bella Mente and DeVos with the Quantum Racing TP52 program.
There was never a question who would oversee an American’s Cup campaign funded by those two businessmen.
“Terry’s done a fabulous job of pulling the project along. We couldn’t have asked for anybody better in that most important position,” Fauth told The Capital in a telephone interview. “We’ve continued to do better than our numbers. We’re working on this progressively with the goal of always doing better than last week’s numbers.”
While currently focused on the big picture and the overarching game plan, Hutchinson wants to be part of the starting sailing team. He already made the tough call that Barker, Goodison and Campbell were better suited to the three afterguard positions.
That leaves eight remaining crew spots, and all are for grinders. Hutchinson has been training as a grinder and is competing with 16 other sailors to make the starting lineup.
“I’m working hard every day to be a grinder. I have to earn my spot just like everyone else,” Hutchinson said. “If I’m not one of the best eight grinders, I won’t be on the boat when racing starts.”
On these innovative AC75 platforms, the grinders are responsible for producing oil pressure for the boat. All systems are run by hydraulic pumps that are fueled by the oil pressure.
In 2017, Team New Zealand used a group of professional cyclists to power its hydraulic systems. Peddling is not legal under the AC75 class rule so the eight grinders will be operating in the more traditional manner, using their arms to turn winches. All eight grinders operate from the same cockpit with two sharing one pedestal.
Hutchinson thinks there could be an advantage by having a grinder with a tactical mindset. However, that factor won’t override the primary job of grinding.
“When I’m on the boat as a grinder, I’m giving feedback to Dean, Paul and Andrew.
You don’t want any of those three guys distracted because they’re all totally focused on boat speed,” Hutchinson said.
“It’s boundary racing so there is definitely strategy. I’m not as strong as some of the other guys on the team as a grinder, so I need to provide good tactical information to make up for the power I can’t produce.”
Hutchinson hopes to be sailing in the America’s Cup because he’s an intense competitor and cannot imagine having to watch the action from a chase boat. Also, he finds the AC75 absolutely exhilarating.
“It’s awesome to be involved with something that’s so completely different. This is such a different discipline and a different science than what we’re accustomed to because it’s so high-tech,” he said. “I’ve had a couple opportunities to steer the boat and it’s just incredible. It’s like driving a high-performance race car.”
According to Hutchinson, the difference between upwind and downwind sailing aboard an AC75 is a “50-millimeter ease on the main sheet” to adjust the mast rotation. “To an untrained eye, it would be difficult to determine whether we were going upwind or downwind,” he said.
Which begs the question: Is racing an AC75 foiling monohull true sailing or more like flying a boat?
“It’s sailing, for sure. All the basic physics and principles apply in terms of drag, proper sail shape, stability and lift,” Hutchinson said. “It’s still extremely important to make sure the boat is set up properly. When it’s not set up properly, you find out that much faster.”