Time on the water is a valuable commodity in the America’s Cup, it always has been and despite a challenging weather window in Barcelona, INEOS Britannia set out offshore to find stability in the breeze in the afternoon and a slightly better sea state than inshore around the Barceloneta racecourse.
‘T6’ – the team’s purpose-built LEQ12 – was the weapon of choice with Giles Scott and Dylan Fletcher-Scott on the wheels and Luke Parkinson and Iain Jensen on Flight Control and they looked more than good on a test session where the sailors had pretty much free reign to mode the boat as they wished to get through the chop and keep the power on. Some very intuitive sailing ensued with the sailors dialling into relatively long runs after a big tow-out some nine miles offshore. Where T6 looks super-comfortable is in the low-riding bustle-skim mode upwind that looks devastatingly fast combined with very fine headsail angles as they blade the jib to the centreline, similar to what we see Emirates Team New Zealand doing aboard their AC75 ‘Te Rehutai.’
Downwind in the conditions was a struggle with high exit angles to try and keep flying as the breeze remained resolutely sub-10 knots and plenty of mainsail fanning to try and eke T6 through the gybes. The Chase Boat was called in to assist with several tow-ups before eventually the team called it a day and towed back in to harbour just after 3.30pm. Speaking afterwards, Will Bakewell, the Test & Validation Lead at INEOS Britannia summed up the day saying: “So we went a bit offshore in an effort to find a bit of breeze eventually found 7 to 10 knots with about .7 metres of sea state. Yeah not proper getting into the Barcelona conditions but otherwise not a particularly useful day… It was quite a hard day to run more structured testing, so we were really focusing in on sailor techniques and allowing them to explore the ways they want to sail…I think the sailors optimise the system naturally, it’s what they do well and so allowing them flexibility to explore whatever they want is key to it sometimes.”
And Will spoke about the value of the time spent out in the tricky conditions saying: “We take all the advice from designers in the preceding days and make recommendations, but on days like this you can’t be too structured about it…it was a lot tougher than normal there would be better days but yeah, every day is a school day and you can learn quite a lot from situations like that those. Marginal conditions are really important to master.”
Whilst the conditions in Barcelona saw only the British venture out on Friday, over in Cagliari, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli continued their impressive training schedule on their stunning LEQ12 that the team view as the crucial component to their development. Jimmy Spithill, Francesco Bruni and the youthful sailing superstar talent of Marco Gradoni rotated into an entertaining test session where the goal appeared to be to get A/B foil data with Wing 03 now housed on the starboard foil arm (it was previously on port) and what the recon team are convinced is an upgraded Wing 02 on port. There is still some confusion about what the Italians are running on their underwater package after Max Sirena claimed that ‘Wing 04’ was in situ and we await their official declaration to get the full picture.
The wind was playing ball in Cagliari with 10-13 knots but the sea-state was challenging with the team struggling to both take-off in the swell and to maintain flight. Several crew members were seen on the windward side to try and hit target speed whilst downwind the boat was swamped by the waves at times as Flight Control was a tricky balance between riding high to keep clear and low enough to keep the foils immersed.
Umberto Molineris, one of the real finds of this cycle and widely considered as one of the very best Flight Controllers in the America’s Cup, spoke about the day saying: “It was really nice to be back on our little boat and it was an interesting day with some waves and good breeze and so we did a lot of straight line testing and was good to compare on the two tacks, the different wings…it’s a different game we use this boat to develop our components and we use the AC40 in Barcelona to train a bit more the sailing team and be a bit more aware of all the condition in Barcelona so yes same sailing but different goals for sure.”
Talking about the wing switch with Wing 03 on the starboard side, Umberto commented: “It’s good to be able to switch wings from side to side in an asymmetric boat so it’s good to check the different components in both types and with different sails…we’re basically following the targets were receiving from the design team and then as sailors we’re putting a bit of our feelings and yeah we’re sweeping from different angle as you can see from outside and just to understand which is the best configuration.”
Valuable day for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in Cagliari with the sailors looking very at ease in terms of sailing technique in the LEQ12 with a solid 42 tacks and gybes completed in a three-hour session. Training continues next week.
On-Water Recon Report – INEOS Britannia: INEOS Britannia squeezed in a three-hour sailing session aboard their T6 LEQ12 today despite light winds and a bumpy sea state which made life difficult for the sailors.
The team rolled T6 out at 0940 with the boat launched at 1021. After docking out at 1205 sails (M1-2 mainsail and J1-2 headsail) were up by 1230 with the boat exiting the harbour on a bow tow by 1235. After a long tow offshore T6 broke off the tow on her foils at 1240 for a five-minute flight in 6-7 knots of breeze that ended with a touchdown tack. A second tow up was followed by 15 minutes of flight. A third tow up was followed by a 50-minute flight upwind in 7 – 8 knots.
The crew looked to be experimenting with high mode sailing (with the headsail periodically being trimmed close to the centreline) and with low flight height. At this point T6 was approximately nine nautical miles offshore. After turning downwind for five minutes the boat struggled through two gybes before coming to a stop at 1400.
After a break to change batteries, the team attempted two more unsuccessful tow ups before time was called at 1445. After a long tow in – that was punctuated halfway by a big splash down that required the crew of T6 to disconnect the tow line – the boat was back in the harbour at 1520 and docked in at 1535. The British team announced a tentative intention to sail tomorrow (Saturday August 19) with a final decision to be made at 0800.
On-water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: The Italian team rolled out their LEQ12 prototype at 8:45, proceeding with the mast stepping procedure and craning the yacht in by 9:05. The boat configuration remained unchanged compared to the previous day with what seems wing02 on port and wing03 on starboard, yet to be confirmed by declaration. The usual routine checks followed and dock-out was scheduled for 10:00 after having locked in the newest mainsail M1-2, which was then hoisted and paired to the J2-1.
Forecast looked Barcelona-like on the sea state side with significant cross chop overlapping with swell of approx. 7-1m 3-4s from 135°, offset from TWD which was displayed blowing 11-13kn from 145 TWA just outside the harbour. Once sails were hoisted, the LEQ12 was foilborne after a short pull by Chase2 providing some initial boat speed. Considering the ships traffic, the team decided to attempt the first two self-take-offs on starboard tack, but both ended after a couple of minutes as during the tack manoeuvre, the LEQ12 hit the swell while transitioning. As the LEQ12 was up and foiling via self-take off, it headed upwind some miles offshore of La Sella del Diavolo to execute some long straight-line testing and occasionally tacking.
Considering the swell size and offset, the RU chase was not entirely able to follow the LEQ12 and had to cut some corners for steady and dry footage. After the awaited bear away, the LEQ12 was observed sailing for a long downwind run touch & going through the highest wave crests pitching through the swell and combining this with some rather rare gybes before finally trimming up and stopping.
During the break, shore crew members were observed checking below deck while sailors debriefed and swapped between starboard/portside pods and chase/leq12. This sailing path was observed twice while remaining relatively offshore perhaps taking advantage of the sea state with steady breeze of 12-13kn. Afterwards, the LEQ12 headed downwind for some gybes and sailed straight towards the harbour looking fast and stable, beside a minor bow down splash.
For the last foiling stint, the LEQ12 was towed up and performed a series of manoeuvres around the chase boats before coming to a stop, sails were lowered by 13:15 and the day was called with approx. 119 minutes of foiling out of 198 minutes total, 24 tacks and 18 gybes. .
© IVO ROVIRA / AMERICA’S CUP
UGO FONOLLÁ / AMERICA’S CUP
UGO FONOLLÁ / AMERICA’S CUP