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Cup Spy Jan 10 : Funky breeze gives Brits the run around in Mallorca

by Richard Gladwell/ 10 Jan 23:48 PST 11 January 2023
INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - January 10, 2023 - Badia de Palma - Mallorca © Ugo Fonolla / America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - January 10, 2023:

  • INEOS Britannia had their third sail on their LEQ12 prototype, in a funky breeze in Mallorca.
  • American Magic did not sail, as signalled in their last report.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand are not expected to sail until January 16, debris permitting after a couple of weeks of stormy weather. Former America's Cup Challenger (1988) Mercury Bay Boating Club, come close to losing their clubhouse as the aftermath of Cyclone Hale with 5-6metre waves hits the east coast of NZ.
  • Luna Rossa signalled they were not going to be in a good weather cycle this week.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing remained in the shed
  • No further developments from the late entry French K-Challenge

INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Mallorca - January 10, 2022

The British team sailed for just the third day in their LEQ12, or prototype yacht, used as a test platform for the development of their AC75 race boat.

Sailing from their temporary base in Mallorca, INEOS Britannia had a mixed day on the water, with the funky breeze giving the Brits the runaround, starting with nothing, increasing to 18kts and then dropping back to 6kts - which is usually below the strength for self-takeoff.

From the 92 videos and 350 still images provided by the AC37 Recon team following the British team, they did have some good runs, but there is plenty of work ahead of them.

As one of the helms for the day, Ben Cornish noted in his dockside interview "Every hour that we're out there, and foiling we're taking big things off the list. So it's very positive and with as with these boats, every hour you spend also puts more jobs on the list, so it's always moving forward."

As with all the test boats, and AC75's - the first question against which to analyse a sailing performance outside of a race, is whether the boat was being sailed on manual flight control or on the autopilot. This is very difficult to determine off the boat, and is a point on which the teams are rarely questioned.

The trade-off being that automated flight control, is consistent, and not an influence on the performance data collection. However unless the boat is being flown on manual, the crew don't have any opportunity to train and learn through the experience of their errors.

One aspect that was obvious was the number of times that the prototype T6 heeled into windward, catching the windward wing foil in the surface - which adds - maybe insignificantly - to the drag, which in turn must have an effect on the test data.

From the videos, we can see that some of the test sailing took place in flat water. In other videos there was a swell running that can contribute to an awkward sea state, which in turn affects the occurrence and severity of windward wing foil strike. This issue seems to be a lot more frequent on the Luna Rossa and INEOS Britannia LEQ12's than on the AC75's. The Kiwis generally keep their AC75 and LEQ12/AC40 heeled to leeward - which maybe points to the issue being related to sail trim. The Brits LEQ12 looks a different boat when it is being flown higher on the foils.

The weight of the LEQ12's is not known, however the AC40 is only a third of the weight of an AC75, but is a half scale prototype. In other words, it is lighter than being a 50% scale AC75 would indicate.

Top international sailing journalist, Justin Chisholm, is a member of the AC37 Recon Team assigned to monitor and report on INEOS Britannia. Here's his observations after following the British team for the session:

The British team made the best of a tricky day out on Palma Bay which began with a northerly offshore breeze that quickly ramped to 18 knots, as the crew were finishing their sail hoists.

The resulting flat water along the Palma city for comfortable self-take offs and the four person crew – made up of Giles Scott and Ben Cornish helming with Leigh McMillan and Bleddyn Mon on trimming and flight control – made multiple fast runs along the Palma city front between Arenel and the entrance to Palma port. One foiling gybe and a rough and ready foiling tack were witnessed.

The team used a J#3 for the first time on the LEQ12 and the boat looked comfortable and relatively stable in that configuration.

When the breeze faded quickly to eight knots at shortly after 1400 the crew dropped the J#3 before being towed to the westerly side of the bay where a new 8-10 knot breeze was blowing from the south west.

After switching to the J#1 1 they set off foiling at 25 knots on starboard. The wind then dropped to six knots and despite just managing to get foiling twice using a tow the crew were unable to maintain flight.

After towing back to the easterly bay on two foils the crew finally called it quits at 1630 as the wind had all but disappeared.

Session Statistics - Mallorca - January 10, 2023 - INEOS Britannia - LEQ12

  • Wind Strength 0-5kts(AM) 10-18-8kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: SW(AM) SW (PM)
  • Roll out: 1016hrs Dock Out: 1200hrs
  • Dock In: 1700hrs Crane out: 1730hrs
  • Total Tacks: 4 - Fully foiling: 1; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 3
  • Total Gybes: 1 - Fully foiling: 1; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

Crew: Giles Scott, Ben Cornish, Leigh McMillan, Bleddyn Mon

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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