Long before many Barcelona residents had enjoyed their first morning coffee, INEOS Britannia had docked-out their two AC40s, taking full advantage of 15-17 knots out by the airport with flat water and only a residual swell, making it ideal for a full-on four-and-a-half-hour session to round off the week.
The INEOS Britannia base has been humming since this intense training session kicked-off in the middle of January with the superb shore team pulling monster hours to get the team’s two AC40s ‘Athena’ and ‘Sienna’ in tip-top race condition day after day. Furthermore, the technicians and design office have performed wonders in diagnosing and fixing whatever speed issue ‘Athena’ was suffering from and today the proof was there to see.
With Sir Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott, the duo with more gold medals between them than the rest of the fleet combined, helming today, it was an absolute masterclass in boat-handling and execution over six short course races which they utterly dominated in ‘Athena’ with what looked like speed to burn. Starting predominantly to windward and then controlling the tactics, Ainslie and Scott with Bleddyn Mon and Leigh McMillan trimming, looked sharp, relaxed and focussed as they pulled the moves, tied up ‘Sienna’ in knots and simply sailed away. This was a big marker of intent and more than a fair reward for the sheer hard work the team have been putting in over the recent training block.
Again today, we saw the team testing sails with ‘Athena’ launching an LEQ12 J2 jib which was just out of range whilst ‘Sienna’ stayed on the one-design J3 – an interesting exercise and one that INEOS Britannia used effectively to get real-time data on the cross-over. Other than that, no tech to report as both boats are predominantly in one-design mode. For now, the British go on a 10-day maintenance break which will give the shore team time to catch up on the endless job list whilst for the sailors it will be a welcome break after an intense period.
Speaking afterwards, Bleddyn Mon, who is a superb asset linking the design and sailing teams together, and was onboard the dominant ‘Athena’ today gave his assessment saying: “We were going well today on Boat A, we kind of felt we got locked in nicely, we did some line-ups before the racing as well and seemed to be going quite well in those (and in the racing) always had quite strong positions to windward off the start line and carried that through to the racing as well.”
Talking about the LEQ J2 jib Bleddyn added: “Initially we were both on the J3 and then thought that the breeze may have been dropping a little bit, so thought it might be a good opportunity to have a look at the J2 but unfortunately the breeze kicked in again and stayed up so a bit out of range on that jib. But yeah, all good racing, and kind of interesting being out there and pushing hard on the two boats.”
Great session from the British again and some superb race analysis below from the on-water recon, Olympic coach, Sebastian Peri Brusa.
On-Water Recon Report – INEOS Britannia: The British craned to the water their two AC40s, Athena(a) and Sienna(b) in one-design foil configuration at 06.38 and 06.52 respectively; both yachts had been left with their masts up and out of the shed overnight. The team docked out at 08.00, as planned.
Both boats got on the tow and headed towards the airport area with no sails. Once there, at 08:36 one-design mainsails and J3s were hoisted.
North-westerly offshore winds of 13 to 17 knots of intensity prevailed during the session, providing great conditions for racing.
At 9:05 after a short warm up, both boats started to speed test doing one long downwind-upwind, switching sides. Both boats were very evened in speed and angle, both upwind and downwind, on the two tacks.
At 09:40 boats A and B were back at the airport area, where marks had been set by the coaches. A short fifteen-minute break took place, before the start of the first race of the day.
A total of six starts were executed, with A finally winning all races.
– Race 1: The first race started at 09:55 with an evened start. B to leeward and A to windward with a comfortable lateral gap. A was able to push B almost to the left boundary and tack on its bow, with a margin that was big enough to be able to cover B all the time from there on. After four tacks, A rounded the top left gate on the lead with a nine-second gap. On the downwind, A did one extra gybe than B, rounding the leeward left gate (looking upwind), but the gap was reduced to only three seconds. B rounded the opposite gate. On the following cross, A was ahead for a greater margin and the race got stopped.
– Race 2: A started to leeward of B who tacked towards the right side immediately after the gun. Found a nice shift and gust on the right side that allowed them to cross ahead. Nevertheless, A crossed very close behind the stern of B, and headed towards the right side. On the following cross, A was ahead. After four tacks, A rounded the top left mark, with B rounding 3 seconds behind. Only two gybes on the downwind to round the bottom left gate and maintain the three-second lead, with B rounding the opposite bottom gate. On the next cross, A continued to be ahead, and the race was abandoned.
In between races two and three, there was a half an hour break in which boat A replaced their one-design J3 for the LEQ12_J2-4.
The following three races were sailed with a LEQ12_J2-4 on boat A vs a one-design J3 on boat B.
– Race 3: B was late to the start with A starting on time on the line. The race was abandoned right after the start.
– Race 4: Even start between both boats, with A to windward and B to leeward. A was ahead on the first cross and then covered B all the time till the top mark, with both boats tacking eight times. A rounded the top right gate with a six-second gap that was maintained on the downwind leg. A rounded the bottom left gate, with B going to the opposite mark. A remained ahead on the first cross of the second upwind and then racing got stopped.
– Race 5: Once more, A started to windward and B to leeward, crossing ahead and covering from there on. A did four tacks to round the top left gate leading for just two seconds. B who was very close behind and rounded the same top mark, lost it on the bear away and ended up heading into the wind. The race was abandoned at that time.
Before the last race of the day, at 11:20 the wind intensity increased again and AC40(a) decided to switch back their headsail to the one-design J3.
– Race 6: The last race of the day got underway at 11:35. Both boats with their OD J3. B started to windward and A to leeward. Both boats did an early tack right after the start and headed to the right side of the course. A was ahead on the cross and covered from there on doing in total six tacks. Once more, A chose the top left gate and B was forced to round the opposite mark. A extended on the downwind and rounded the bottom right gate with a comfortable lead. Halfway on the upwind racing was stopped.
At 11:50 the training was finished. Both boats lowered their sails and got on the tow to be taken back to the base. Athena and Sienna entered the port at 12:20 and docked at 12:35. Another very productive racing day for Team IB. Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on INEOS Britannia