Tuesday, February 27, 2024
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupINEOS Britannia Tests in Challenging Conditions, Alinghi Red Bull Racing's AC40s Deliver...

INEOS Britannia Tests in Challenging Conditions, Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s AC40s Deliver Thrilling Showdown in Jeddah

INEOS Britannia tested solidly in down-range conditions whilst over in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia it was another high-octane bull fight between the hard charging AC40’s of Alinghi Red Bull Racing. A great day for America’s Cup watchers.

Another team with their tails up at the moment is INEOS Britannia who recorded their fourth day in a row out in Barcelona and continued the fabulous momentum that the re-launch of ‘T6’ has given the whole team.

Out on the water, in a patchy afternoon weather pattern that promised much but delivered late (at dock-in), once again the British put on a very impressive sail trimming day with their 2D (or is it 3D?) mainsail control system giving the trimmers ultimate control over the cord depth and able, in these down-range conditions to induce a wonderfully deep shape to get the drive for take-off. Once flying the mainsail was gradually tightened and you could almost see the incremental changes as they happened. The three new headsails that the team have declared are also coming under increased scrutiny with the addition of a microscopic camera actually mounted mid-way up the delicate carbon bow wind-wand and today’s weapon of choice, the J2-3 with its cleverly angled foot take-off to the clew, was looking very much to mimic the trim of the mainsail with generous depth when required.


Dylan Fletcher-Scott, International Moth World Champion, joined Giles Scott, himself an International Moth sailor these days, on the helm and the duo very much steered like ‘T6’ had Moth wings with crisp precise, puff-to-puff steering upwind with Luke Parkinson being joined by super-fit cyclor Neil Hunter on trim duties. Downwind, with the swell behind, the team looked remarkably comfortable sailing out to the south-west of Barcelona near the busy port and the container anchoring zone. Overall a great rotation of crew and a positive session of almost four-and-a-half hours.   


David Endean, the Chief Operating Officer of INEOS Britannia and a person who has credibly moved mountains to get ‘T6’ operational after the tow-crash on the 6th October, confirmed the intentions for the day, saying: “…Today we were looking at some of the take-off behaviours and the control system functions…but also specifically looking at the headsails and how they behave in take-offs. Today was light, quite a few waves, a bit lumpy but it gave us an opportunity to look at some other stuff downrange.”  

With the beautiful finish on the mainsail attracting a lot of attention dockside, David said: “This main is our last test main before we start looking at the big boat sails so this is a sort of a culmination of everything we’ve learned with this test boat so far and into a more refined design for this boat to just make sure that we achieve everything we wanted to do with this mainsail before we start looking at the AC75 designs…Everyone’s going to be looking at range in mainsails and headsails making sure that you can carry them downrange but that you can get the depth out of them when you need it and flatten them out when you’re up and running, so in this light air take-off stuff it’s just making sure you have range across the board.”

And looking forward to the arrival of the INEOS Britannia AC75, slated for Spring 2024, David talked through the challenges that present themselves, saying: “The main challenges are just getting consistent reliability out of the yacht. The bigger boats draw more resources from the team, so it takes a lot of effort to get the boat in the water, have a good day on the water and then maintain it at night so it’s a full team effort. What we’re going to be looking for is making sure we have a reliable boat on the water and our time on the water is efficient so just working on processes that can be as efficient as possible and get the most out of our time on the water.”

The British are looking ominously good at the moment.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Over on the beautiful, mystical Red Sea in the bustling port city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Alinghi Red Bull Racing were back at it in near-perfect conditions for the fourth day in a row with a special guest in Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Saud, the Saudi Arabian Minister for Sport watching on from the team’s Chase Boat.

This was another serious training and testing sprint for the Swiss with the relentless drive for improvement in all areas, much in evidence but also tinged with a real sense that the sailors and support crew are enjoying themselves. Smiles and jokes shoreside, on the water it was deadly serious business today with Phil Robertson partnering with Nicolas Charbonnier onboard AC40-4 and the presumed top pairing of Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin in AC40-7.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

After the initial gybing duel downwind and warm up to the racecourse area off the Jeddah Corniche, it was Robertson and Charbonnier that showed the better over five starts, three completed races and one aborted run mid-race. Racing was desperately tight with so much emphasis on winning the start where a quarter of a boatlength means the world and then match-racing style covering upwind to the first gate. Both boats threw in a huge amount of tacks upwind (and the same downwind) and remarkably over the course of just over three hours, the foil-to-foil success rate was some 99% for both boats. Incredible sailing and almost certainly the best performance from the Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailors to date in the AC40s.

Speaking afterwards, Lucien Cujean, a member of the Driving Group with multiple roles talked about the relationship between the sailors and the multiple departments supporting their effort to design and implement a winning boat, saying: “We have a very good relationship with the sail designers and the sailors and actually it’s for us a good camp for sail testing as you can see the other day we were testing some LEQ sails and yeah it’s very important to have the sailor’s point of view and some feedback from the sailing team but also from the design team to make sure we are not making some mis-judgement or any false conclusion.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Talking about simulation, with Alinghi Red Bull Racing rumoured to have one of the very best simulators in this America’s Cup cycle, Lucien added: “Well, simulation I think it’s pretty close, I think that’s the point of this campaign, you know like everybody is simulating a lot and I think we are doing a very good job with the simulator in the team and I think we’re getting very close to reality, and hopefully we will make some good calls on the design aspect and also on the performance aspect on the simulator.”

And in reference specifically to sail design in the various software tools an programmes that are available to all teams, Lucien said: “I think it’s going in a good direction and we are limited on the sail construction for the ‘Boat One’ so we are training ourselves also to re-cut and to make sure we can make an evolution of our LEQ sails on the AC40 to train ourselves for the big boat next year.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Alinghi Red Bull Racing have every day on the upcoming calendar blocked-out for sailing through to the 25th of November ahead of the second Preliminary Regatta which starts on the 29th of November. This is a big effort by the Swiss and on the looks of things, they’re going to be tough to beat when the action starts. Great sailing, great entertainment from this hard-charging, relentless team effort.

More to come tomorrow.

On-Water Recon Report – NYYC American Magic: NYYC American Magic’s past generation AC75, ‘Patriot,’ flew for the first time in nine months today during a three-hour sailing session that took place in light and unstable winds on a rolling 0.4 – 0.7 m sea. The light winds and swell made life difficult for the US crew and only one foiling manoeuvre – a gybe – was achieved.

After an 0800 roll out, an 0833-launch dock-out was delayed by almost 45 minutes – reportedly to fix a technical issue with the boat. After leaving the dock at 1028 the American AC75 was bow-towed out of the harbour at 1040. With less than 5 knots of breeze and a 0.4 metre swell rolling in from the south the team towed north-east for 10 minutes – away from the refraction effect of the swell bouncing back off the harbour wall – before stopping.

After a 30 minute wait the M8-1 mainsail and a J1-6 headsail were hoisted. After a short period of what appeared to be system checks the boat set off sailing at 1200 midday. Despite the sea state and the sub eight knot breeze the crew did not opt for a tow-up, choosing instead to try for 45 minutes to try to coax the boat up to take-off speed. At times there appeared to be an issue with the mainsheet traveller which looked jerky in operation.

The team’s efforts were eventually rewarded when the breeze ramped up to 10 knots and Patriot flew for the first time on Mediterranean waters. After around eight minutes of straight line foiling the boat appeared to sail into a light patch and dropped off the foils. It was quickly back up again however for a two-minute second flight which was followed by 10 minutes more of trying to take-off before the third flight which lasted 10 minutes before a splashdown going into what looked to be an attempted tack.

A 30-minute stop from 1330 to 1400 was followed by eight minutes of trying to take off before the boat began to fly on a 10 minute foiling session that included one touchdown gybe and one foiling gybe. The final flight of the day lasted 10 minutes and ended with a turnup from downwind at 1440. Sails were dropped by 1450 and the boat was back on the dock at 1518.

No sailing is planned for tomorrow (Friday November 10) the team may sail the following day (Saturday November 11).

On-Water Recon Report – INEOS Britannia: Team INEOS Britannia rolled out their LEQ12 at 10:00 am, with foil wing and flap #1 on the port side, foil wing and flap #2 on the starboard side, and with the LEQ R01 rudder. Three patches were added on the front face of the mast, and a camera on the stick of the anemometer on the bow pointing backwards, just before leaving the dock.

‘T6’ was craned to the water at 10:45 and the team docked out at 12:00, as planned, with Dylan Fletcher and Luke Parkinson on starboard, and with Giles Scott and Neil Hunter on port.

The MN1-3 mainsail and J2-3 jib were selected for today´s session and were the only sails used during the day. Both sails were hoisted at 12:30, and at 12:41, respectively, inside the port. The team´s rigger had to be sent up to the top of the mast to help the main get properly locked. This process took a bit more than twenty minutes.

Today´s conditions were pretty challenging. An uncomfortable swell from 160-170 degrees was the main character of the day, combined with weak and shifty offshore winds from 230 – 245 deg always under 7 knots of intensity.

The training consisted of trying to sail in bottom-end conditions, under the uncomfortable swell, trying to take-off and sail when the conditions permitted. Later-on, in the interview, the COO explained us that the focus of the training was mainly about the take-offs and jib trimming.

The day started with an upwind, heading towards the south-west were there seemed to be stronger winds. Sailing on starboard against the swell was very tricky, and T6 fell-off the foils and nosedived a couple times. On the other hand, sailing upwind on port tack appeared to be more stable and easier.

Once to the SW of the port, from 13:20 till 14:20, T6 struggled to take-off after multiple attempts on both tacks. On port tack it looked easier or closer to be successful, rather than on starboard tack when heading against the swell. Three towing take-offs were carried out during this period of time.

Finally, at 14:40 the wind intensity increased a little bit and allowed some proper sailing for approximately 20 minutes, mostly sailing downwind and performing a few gybes, that required almost a 180 degree course change to stay flying consistently.

At 15:05 there was a short ten-minute break for a battery replacement, and then the team trained for another 25 minutes mostly sailing downwind and gybing in the flatter water area closer to the port.

‘T6’ started to lower both sails when the wind died at 15:45, entered the port on the tow with no sails at 16:10, docked at 16:20 and was craned out of the water at 16:45. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on INEOS Britannia

On-Water Recon Unit Report – Alinghi Red Bull Racing: Alinghi Red Bull Racing rolled out their AC40-7 (Red) and AC40-4 (Yellow) at 09:00 and 09:35, respectively. A minor rigging oversight was resolved with the AC40-7 craned back out and rigs being swapped between the boats. Both boats were in the water by 11:00.

Following standard pre-sail checks, both boats departed the dock at 11:30. Both boats hoisted One Design mainsails, the red boat now without the Red Vilanova branding but identifiable by the Swiss Flag sticker. The yachts were towed out to the Red Sea and straight to the racing area in front of Jeddah Waterfront.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Saud, the Saudi Minister of Sport, accompanied Silvio Arrivabene and Brad Butterworth on Chase Targa.

Sailing started at 13:00 with the red boat hoisting the J1-2 OD jib, while the yellow boat encountered a 15-minute delay in hoisting their jib. During this time, the red boat warmed up with short upwinds and downwinds. The boats then executed a long upwind and downwind of split tacks and gybes, with the red boat showing slightly better consistency and VMG. Both boats swapped to J2 OD jibs after reaching the course start line.

In the second stint, with the course set at 245 degrees, the yellow boat won the pre-start of race 1 and maintained its lead despite a gybe manoeuvre that allowed the red boat to close the gap. The yellow boat then forced the red high to make an extra gybe at the leeward gate, as yellow rounds through the gate first and takes the win.

Stint three saw the yellow boat touch down during the pre-start, giving the red boat a clear lead. The race was then restarted. In race 2, the red boat initially led up to the windward gate, but then performed a gybe and tack, allowing the yellow boat to pull ahead, and maintain its lead despite a bad rounding at the leeward gate.

Race 3 during stint four featured the yellow boat starting on windward and extending the lead sailing the right side of the course looking upwind, winning the race. After a 15-minute break, race 4 commenced with a clean start. The yellow boat made gains on the right and led at the windward gate, then performed a tack and gybe in order for the red boat to close the gap. The two boats came together at the leeward gate, the yellow boat on starboard and the red on port. Both boats slowed down and avoided collision, and with that came an end to the day.

Both boats returned to base and were craned out by 17:00.

In total, the team spent three and a half hours on the water, sailed for 120 minutes, and 115 manoeuvres completed by the AC40-7 (Red, helmed by Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin), the highest count of manoeuvres so far, with 99% fully foiling and only one touch-and-go. Today would statistically be the team’s most successful day in terms of manoeuvres for the AC40 campaign.

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