Thursday, February 22, 2024
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupINEOs Britannia had a mixed day on the water

INEOs Britannia had a mixed day on the water

The Bay of Palma threw up some tricky conditions for the ongoing commissioning process of the INEOS Britannia LEQ12, nicknamed T6 but looking very much like an homage to the famous Silver Arrows of Mercedes Benz. The sailors are rotating as was suggested by Sir Ben Ainslie before the Christmas break and looking better and better as the programme progresses.

Today’s helmsmen were Giles Scott in the port trench who was joined in the starboard pod by recent 5.5 Metre Gold Cup winner, Ben Cornish, who did a pretty spectacular job for a first time helming an LEQ12. Speaking afterwards Cornish acknowledged the hours spent in the simulator saying: “Once you’re locked in and in the groove it’s all very as expected…a lot of simulator time trains you up for this and nothing really comes as a surprise at that stage.”

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

The team have certainly been putting their time off the water to good use and the over-riding sense is of confidence building steadily into the sailor’s on-water performance. Leigh MacMillan, one of the world’s top Flight Controllers was aided today onboard by Bleddyn Mon who is a vital link between the design and sail teams (he was previously on mainsheet control at Auckland in 2021) and both controllers achieved stable, low flight as they put it through the hefty commissioning and de-bugging process. Pop ups were decent and there’s a lot of sailing talent on display in this British team. Certainly as the breeze abated off the top wind strengths that were seen today (18 knot gusts), the stability of the platform increased but the team looked very comfortable with the J3 jib up in the heavier conditions for its first break-out in this campaign.

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

As the weather front gradually dissipated, there was no option but to change up for the big J1-1 jib in order to try and eke the maximum out of the five hour session much aided by fast 22-knot tow-ups from the chase boat team. Cornish was sanguine about the day saying: “We started the day with nice breeze but sadly as the as the forecast suggested, it tapered away and we did a bit of a chase around the Bay looking for  a bit more but unfortunately the weather gods weren’t playing ball so I think we got out of it what we could at the start of the day but yeah obviously we always wanted more sailing.”

Ugo Fonollá / America’s Cup

And talking about the overall programme, he added: “It still is very much commissioning this new boat, testing systems, and testing changes that are being pushed through so I’d say every hour that we’re out there and foiling we’re ticking big things off the list. It’s very positive and with these boats every hour you spend also puts more jobs on the list so it’s always moving forward.”

Asked what his first day was like onboard, Cornish added: “Everyone on these boats is always doing a function whether it’s the AC40 or this or the other test boats, there is a lot of boat and a lot of control for four people, so nobody’s joyriding let’s just say that.”

INEOS Britannia are scheduled for another test day tomorrow – ‘Joyriders’ need not apply.

On-Water Recon Unit Notes: The British team made the best of a tricky day out on Palma Bay which began with a northerly offshore breeze that quickly ramped to 18 knots as the crew were finishing their sail hoists. The resulting flat water along the Palma City allowed for comfortable self-take-offs and the four person crew – made up of Giles Scott and Ben Cornish helming with Leigh McMillan and Bleddyn Mon on trimming and flight control – made multiple fast runs along the Palma City front between Arenel and the entrance to Palma port.

One foiling gybe and a rough and ready foiling tack were witnessed. The team used a J3 for the first time on the LEQ12 and the boat looked comfortable and relatively stable in that configuration. When the breeze faded quickly to eight knots at shortly after 1400 the crew dropped the J3 before being towed to the westerly side of the Bay where a new 8 – 10 knot breeze was blowing from the south-west.

After switching to the J1-1, they set off on a 25 knot foiling run on starboard. The wind then dropped to six knots and despite just managing to get foiling twice using a tow the crew were unable to maintain flight.  After towing back to the easterly bay on two foils the crew finally called it quits at 1630 as the wind had all but disappeared.

Dock out: 1200 Dock-in: 1700

Onboard Today

Helms: Giles Scott / Ben Cornish

Crew: Leigh MacMillan / Bleddyn Mon

Sails Used:

M1-1 Mainsail: 4 hours

J1-1: 1 hour 20 minutes

J3-1: 1 hour 30 minutes

Total Tacks: 4 – 1 foil-to-foil 3 touchdowns

Total Gybes: 3 – 1 foil-to-foil, 2 touch & go

Wind Strength: (AM) 0 – 5 knots for rigging and launch. (PM) Outside the harbour 10 knots ramping quickly to 18 knots from North then fading to 8 knots south-westerly. Clear skies, sunny 13-18 degrees (AM-PM)

Take-off speed: 16 knots self at 120 degrees TWA / 22 Knots two at 70 degrees TWA
Multiple foiling runs in the stronger northerly breeze on flat water – lasting between 1 and 5 minutes. Top speed estimated to be 35 knots +




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