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HomeRegattaAmerica's CupINEOS Britannia Takes to the Waters: A Promising Start in Barcelona

INEOS Britannia Takes to the Waters: A Promising Start in Barcelona

For British fans there’s a real sense of optimism building down at the Port Vell in Barcelona with INEOS Britannia launching their new AC75 for the first time and getting the initial tow-test period and sail-fitting procedure underway on a very long day for the sailors and support team. In the water by 10.15am with the mast up and a swarm of technicians and sailors working diligently through the systems checks, INEOS Britannia was a hive of delighted activity throughout the morning, with a sense of anticipation that could almost be bottled.

For the first time we saw both the foils and stepped-rudder arrangement and with so much speculation shoreside on what innovations this highly technical team, supported by the brilliance of Mercedes Applied Science, have brought through, the recon camera lenses were clicking.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

What we saw was a progressive, logical design of the foils, back-slung off a beautifully sculpted bulb and similar in form to Alinghi Red Bull Racing. The detailing is where the percentages are found, and flow tails were dotted all over the span with the obligatory camera mounted to capture every piece of flow data imaginable and Pitot tubes protruding forward – measurement is everything.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

The rudder itself was a departure from the norm and featured two steps leading to a slender bottom section from which the back slung, slightly W-shaped foil was attached.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

A marvel of design sculpture and engineering, this is an area that the team appear to be highly invested in with perhaps angular rake adjustments achievable. On the tow test, it was noticeable just how forward the rudder angle was raked – interesting.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

One highly notable and potentially significant nuance of INEOS Britannia today was the crew set-up with the helms sitting in the forward pods and the trimmers sitting right at the back of the boat in the aft pods. The two-man cyclor team either side were today seated in the middle two pods and in the aft cyclor pod HMI (Human Machine Interface) systems could be seen. Has INEOS Britannia gone rather radical here and concentrated weight forward and thrown a spanner in the accepted works where most teams run the trimmer in the most forward position. We will have to wait and see whether this was a commissioning set-up and whether it stays but INEOS Britannia are certainly not afraid to buck convention.

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

With the yacht in the water, it was very quickly all business. On deck we got a first glimpse of the mainsheet system that the recon team recorded as being: “black outer tube with sheave and yoke at the end removed from interior actuator. Multiple ropes threaded into tube, before connecting back to main actuator.”

Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Dock-out was into the mid-afternoon at 3.25pm and almost immediately the team were into the tow-test, coaxing the boat onto foils at speeds estimated in the 18-22 knot range. The team ran out for approximately two miles and then stopped to put technicians below for what appeared to be a small issue that required the boat to slow-tow back to harbour. Once back, the sails were loaded and a long period of sail fitting got underway with the double-skinned M1-1 mainsail fitted first and then the team took their time launching and setting the jibs going through the J1-1, then J2-1 and finally the J3-1. Dock-in was at 8pm with the light fading in Barcelona – long day, very productive and plenty of smiles all round. The British will now be looking to take the programme forward at pace with a decent sailing block now planned. The first sail is a tantalising prospect now.

On-Water Recon Report – INEOS Britannia: INEOS Britannia rolled out their AC75, RB3, at 08:25. Shrouding was removed from the foils, revealing the details of their high aspect wings mounted aft of the sculpted bulbs, with markers and flow tails on the upper surface along the wingspans, and upswept blended wingtips. Pitot tubes added to both bulbs were also noted. Camera bulbs were also added, outboard of the bulb on the starboard wing, and inboard of the bulb on the port wing. The foil arm, slightly recessed from the one-design foil arm component, continues down to the front of the bulb, with the trailing edge tapering into a narrow profile halfway down. Little spray fences were noted on the leading edge of the port foil arm, but not on the starboard side.

The rudder was in place and revealed for the first time, mounted further back compared to other AC75s. The rudder profile has small steps at the leading edge, and bigger steps at the trailing edge. Mounted aft at the very tip of the trailing edge of the rudder, is a slightly inverted gullwing elevator.

The mast was stepped at 09:40, with small aero fairings mounted to all the vertical and diagonal shrouds. The yacht was then slowly craned in at 10:15, noticeably floating just on the bustle, with the hull sides sitting a few inches above the waterline. A rigger was then hoisted up the mast to fit antennas and communication equipment before work began on the mainsheet system. The black outer tube with sheave and yoke connected at the end, was removed from the system, as multiple ropes observed being threaded into the tube, before connecting back to the main actuator. Cyclors were in position for system testing, which seemed to be inhibited by some teething issues, requiring further maintenance.

The team moved on to FCS testing, lifting both foils multiple times. HMIs were spotted in the aft cyclor pod, including two displays and an LED lightbar. The mainsheet system was strapped down to the deck ahead of tow testing, as four jibs were carried onto chase boats in the meantime. The M1-1 mainsail was craned onto the deck, and the team prepared to dock out. The team was delayed further as last minute checks and maintenance was carried out at the mast base.

The team docked out at 15:25, with tow testing beginning at 15:50 from the port entrance. The yacht was towed 3NM north-east along the coast, before towing 3.5NM south, at speeds between 18-24 knots. Once on foil, the rudder was noticeably raked forward, pitching the boat down to align the skeg in parallel with the sea level. Tow testing ended at 16:15, with deck hatches opened and crew below deck, as the yacht was slowly towed in displacement back to port.

On entering the port, the yacht was turned head to wind with Chase 3 alongside to commence sail fitting under the breakwater. The M1-1 mainsail was prepared to hoist at 17:00, and slowly raised over a 50-minute period. As techs got to work on the mainsheet and Cunningham systems, the J2-1 was hoisted for 15 minutes, followed by the J3-1 and J1-1. Fairing covers were added over the tack and clew of the mainsail, covering the control systems.

Sails were dropped by 19:40, with the team heading back to base to dock in at 20:00. After sails were carried off the yacht, tech crew got to work on the yacht, but it was not clear exactly what they were working on. The yacht was subsequently craned out in the dark at 21:30 to conclude a long day of work for the team.

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