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Cup Spy Dec 7 : INEOS Britannia tow tests.. Top kiwi coach joins Luna Rossa

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-world.com/nz 8 Dec 2022 00:57 PST 8 December 2022
INEOS Britannia - Tow testing - December 7, 2022 - Mallorca © Ugo Fonolla / America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - Dec 7 2022:

  • INEOS Britannia ventured out on the water for another towing test, they have called another three day time-out and won't be on the water until December 11.
  • Luna Rossa sailed their LEQ12 on the Gulf of Cagliari, for the second successive day this week
  • American Magic stayed ashore.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing went into the shed in Barcelona on November 16, for upgrades and is yet to emerge
  • Emirates Team New Zealand are repairing their AC40/LEQ20 after a violent nosedive on November 21. There is no date announced when it will begin sailing.
  • Top Olympic coach Hamish Willcox (NZL) is reported to have joined Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Mallorca - November 18, 2022

INEOS Britannia conducted a five hour, ten tow testing session off Palma, Mallorca in calm seas, and grey leaden skies to match the silver grey colour of the LEQ12, half-size AC75 prototype.

The team is complying with the latest decision of the America's Cup Measurement Committee, to effectively ban the use of a towing pole - even though the final decision has not been confirmed.

The Measurement Committee whose decisions are not appealable to the Arbitration Panel, has determined that the towing post, despite being able to be used for sailing the LEQ12, resembles a Mast Tube, and therefore counts as their only allowed Mast Tube. Click here for the interim Decision. The Brits could do some work-arounds on the decision, including fitting their regular mast with a bridle, using a different step and rigging attachment points - or work out an alternative method of tilting the LEQ12, or giving the idea away completely.

The major benefit of the towing pole is to be able to induce heel into the LEQ12, so that the prototype can be towed with only one foil in the water, mimicking sailing behavior. Towing with the use of a pole is believed to give very accurate data relating to the degree of force applied on the towline, against the drag of having just one foil in the water, rather than the two foils in conventional towing and which represents a condition that exists only when the foiling monohull is tacking or gybing.

The other benefit of the towing pole is that on windless days, the team can use the time productively on the water to conduct foil testing in still, calm water.

The wing surface of both foils were given attention by a support crew member during a prolonged stop during the day. While the view was obscured, from enlarged images he was placing sticky-back over parts of the wingfoil.

Top sailing journalist, Justin Chisholm was on the water and made various observations on the new additions on the British boat:

  • a curved mainsheet traveller track at the back of the aft deck

  • a flat jib traveller track at the aft edge of the foredeck including a large enclosure we presume to be a jib car system

  • two one metre lateral hydraulic rams either side behind mast track in line with the mast step ball

The wind wand on the bowsprit stub seen on previous towing outings was back.

Unlike previous towing sessions which had taken place in the western side of Palma Bay close to Magaluf today the action was in the eastern and central part of the bay with runs taking place mainly between Palma Cathedral and Arenal.

On the first two runs the tow boat seemed to be struggling for power and the tow was switched to the larger more powerful chase boat.

The team made several fast runs – when speeds were in the 20 - 30 knot range – as well as many other runs where the speeds were much lower – in the range 12 - 16 knots.

It was noticeable that the boat was consistently towed offset to the chase boat.

There was a 45 - 60 minute break in activity around 12.30 when the surface of both foil wings were given close attention by a member of the support crew. Evidence of surface patches could be seen after this.

The Recon chase boat covered a total of 44 nautical miles during the day but it should be noted that the AC documentary team were also onboard and so we did not always stay close to the INEOS yacht.

In the interview Ben Ainslie said the goal of the day had been to check the boats systems ahead of potentially sailing next week, to gather performance data, and to work on what he repeatedly called the HMI = Human Machine Interface, which for those not familiar with the acronym refers to a dashboard or screen used to control machinery.

The team has now called a three day break with no on the water action possible before December 11.

Session Statistics - Mallorca - November 18, 2022 - INEOS Britannia - LEQ12

  • Wind Strength 0kts(AM) <3kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: N(AM) N (PM)
  • Roll out: 0830hrs Dock Out: 1100hrs
  • Dock In: 1630hrs Crane out: 1700hrs
  • Total Tacks: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Giles Scott, Ben Ainslie, Luke Parkinson, Leigh McMillan

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Cagliari - December 6, 2022 - Day 13

Over 300nm away from the British team base in Mallorca, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, the Italian challenger had a useful test sailing session in winds of up to 12kts off Cagliari, Sardinia.

A forecast of clear skies and fresh NW breezes didn't really arrive, with the wind peaking at 12 kts and fading early afternoon.

Francesco Bruni, fresh from the International Moth Worlds in Argentina, was back on board today, as part of the six-man crew aboard the LEQ12.

The crew gave up trying to self-takeoff after a few minutes, when the team opted to tow-out instead. That was followed by two self-starts, and a further tow-to-fly.

The AC37 Joint Recon crew reported a significant splash down on the first gybe, followed by crew checks in cockpit and sails control. Another two "close to" nose dives were observed while straight line sailing, put down to perhaps an issue on the ride height control or sail trimming systems.

In the end an issue on board the LEQ12 brought the session to a premature end, accompanied by a fading breeze.

Session Statistics - Cagliari - December 7, 2022 - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12

  • Wind Strength 9-12kts (AM) 6-8kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: NW (AM) NW (PM)
  • Weather: 12 degrees C, Sunny (AM) 17 degrees C Sunny (PM)
  • Sea State:
  • Roll out: 0900hrs Dock Out: 1130hrs
  • Dock In: 1400hrs Crane out:
  • Total Tacks: 0 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0
  • Total Gybes: 4 - Fully foiling: ; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 1

Crew: Jimmy Spithill, Francesco Bruni, Ruggero Tita, Vittorio Bissaro, Umberto Molineris, Andrea Tesei

Additional Images:

This commentary was written and compiled from video, still images and statistical content extracted from the AC37 Joint Recon program and other material available to Sail-World NZ including photo files, and other on the water coverage from the 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2021 America's Cups.

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