The INEOS Britannia shore team and technicians had a busy day dockside Friday in Palma with the crucial first-stepping of the ‘Silver Arrow’ T6 LEQ12 carbon mast and rigging.
Attention to detail was the name of the game with painstaking measurements taken, re-taken, double-checked and agreed as the team left nothing to chance in this high precision approach to the America’s Cup.
As a mark of where the team are going and what they are trying to achieve, it was a demonstration that this time, under the watchful guide and instruction of the Mercedes AMG-F1 Applied Science team both back in Brackley, Northamptonshire and on the ground in Palma, science and engineering precision will be the guiding force in this America’s Cup campaign.
As a validation tool, getting the platform perfect and leaving nothing to chance is vital to good data being captured.
Time on the water sailing will come quickly, and with their AC40 now delivered and awaiting the modification to the bow as outlined today by the design team at Emirates Team New Zealand, to be completed, INEOS Britannia’s sailors will have plenty of time to hone their technique.
For now, it’s all about getting the LEQ12 platform fit for purpose and thoroughly commissioned to extract that vital data to inform the design direction of their one-build AC75 for Barcelona 2024 and validate the work completed to date on that crucial design process.
And over a period of six hours today, the team beavered away through to sundown to get the rig to the exact measurements and settings that they wanted. An excellent summary of the day is provided below by yachting journalist Justin Chisholm who was onsite and watching the day unfold:
• The British LEQ12 mast was wheeled out of its enclosure today at 0825, followed on schedule at 0830 by the boat itself.
• The boat was without its regular wind instrument bowsprit but a pair of wires could at times be seen protruding from the stem of the boat. An incomplete repair to the suspected minor damage to the port foil wing reported on Day Two could be seen during roll out.
• Having aligned the boat diagonally across the hard standing the shore crew set about the painstaking process of precisely levelling out the cradle and the boat itself. This is meticulous operation that involved a set of four steel tape measures, a number of small hydraulic rams, numerous spirit levels, two plumb lines, a pair of theodolites, and a finely focused laser.
• The four tape measures suspended from adhesive tape on the upper chines – the forward ones being positioned half a metre forward of the foil arms, and the aft ones roughly a metre from the transom.
• The plumb lines were dropped from the bow and centre of the stern down to a pair of and the laser was used to site along a thin line run along the ground down the length of the boat and extending for another estimated tow boat lengths beyond the stern.
• At 1045 the shore crew held a 25-minute briefing session about stepping the rig.
• By 1110 rig on mast step but suspended by the crane as the crew attached the stays. Supporting lines to the top of the mast were attached to strategically positioned concrete blocks to keep the mast stabilised through this process.
• The mast was manufactured by Southern Spars and has elliptical swept back spreaders and a set of fractional outer stays as well as a set of inners terminating just below spreaders.
• By 1145 all stays were attached and a purchase system at the bow appeared to be now acting as a forestay tensioning method.
• A tape measure was used frequently to measure from mast head to central point aft of cockpit and spirit levels were frequently used on mast forward face in what turned out to be a six-hour operation to set the rig up to the team’s satisfaction.
• Eventually, after sundown and illuminated by the base’s floodlights; at 1800 the stays were removed and the process of un-stepping the mast began. No ‘recon-able’ action is planned for tomorrow (Saturday November 26) but another day of rig tuning is scheduled for Sunday November 27.