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Cup Spy Oct 6: Catastrophic failure for Brits, a no-show for the Swiss, and Italy has the best day

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 6 Oct 2023 15:06 PDT 6 October 2023
INEOS Britannia - AC40 - Day 78 - Barcelona - October 6, 2023 © Alex Carabi / America's Cup

Three teams sailed, or attempted to do so. In Barcelona the breeze was back to its funky best. The Brits opted to tow-test, and blew up a rudder on their LEQ12. Alinghi Red Bull Racing got in some apparent wind sailing.

The Italians had a much better day of it in Cagliari, getting a moderate breeze, were able to self-start the foiling process, and had a productive session testing new features on their LEQ12.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Report:

INEOS Britannia - LEQ125 - October 6, 2023 - Barcelona

INEOS Britannia rolled out their T6 test boat at 12:25, delayed from 11:00. The rudder elevator, officially declared Version D as of today, had been exchanged overnight, bearing a resemblance to Version B with a distinctive trailing bulb behind the elevator. The yacht was craned in at 12:40 without rigging, suggesting hydro testing was the focal point of today's operations. Two batteries were carried into the foredeck.

Ben Cornish took helm on starboard and Giles Scott on port ahead of the 13:10 dockout, while Leigh McMillan and Luke Parkinson occupied the starboard and port trimming seats, respectively. The sailing conditions were characterized by a flat sea and wind speed registering below 6 knots.

The yacht was towed eastward at stepped speeds between 20-30 knots, 6.5 Nautical Miles from the port entrance. Throughout this phase, the crew played with ride height and foil arm cant angles, notably without altering the yacht's pitch. Subsequent to this distance, the team made the decision to return, towing back towards the base.

An incident transpired while foiling under tow at 30 knots, resulting in a spinout of the boat. Immediate observation revealed a failure in the rudder system, specifically a clear breakage in the rudder box. On reviewing the video, the rudder can be seen oscillating progressively more violently until it exceeded load limit.

Giles Scott was helming at this moment, and the unmanned steering wheel on starboard can be see shaking aggressively.

It seems that Luke Parkinson attempted to release the towline a few seconds ahead of the incident, however to no avail. The support crew gathered quickly and secured the boat once all crew were confirmed uninjured.

A diver was deployed to inspect below the waterline, then protecting the elevator and securing the rudder with ropes for the tow back to the base, which proceeded at a pace of 3 knots alongside the chase boat.

The spinout can be seen in the video starting at 2m 20secs

In a post-testing interview, Giles Scott explained that the team consciously pushed rudder testing to its extremities but acknowledged they "overstepped the mark." No further technical tests or tweaks were highlighted, and the sailing session concluded with the yacht being towed back to base, docking in at 16:00.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - October 6, 2023 - Barcelona

Alinghi Red Bull Racing managed to sail in very low wind conditions.

ARBR team rolled their AC75 at 10:00h, and right after the mast procedure, they launched and tested hydraulics just before the dock out at 11:55h. The M1-1R mainsail and J1 headsail were hoisted inside the port by 12:20h. Right after, the chaseboat towed the boat out of the harbour, where they started sailing in displacement mode on their port foil.

In front of Badalona, with 4knots from 160º, the team decided to tow the boat in the opposite direction heading to Barcelona Airport, where they proceeded with the first take-off assistance of the day. They managed to foil for fourteen minutes at 30knts with very light wind conditions, until they touched-down as the breeze was decreasing. Straightaway, they did another attempt which lasted no more than three minutes.

At 14:15h, in the vicinity of el Garraf they swapped cyclors and changed the batten from the mainsail.

They continued with three more sailing attempts before towing the yacht back in front of the port entrance, always putting a lot of interest at the foot of both of the main skins when being towed (see photo below).

They waited patiently for the breeze to fill in, until they made the call to drop the sails at 16:35h and docked in by 17:00h. ARBR team sailed for 28 min out of 4 hours on the water.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli -LEQ12 - October 6, 2023 - Barcelona

Following a week of updates in the shed, the Italian team LRPP opted for an afternoon seabreeze training day and rolled out their LEQ12 prototype at 11:30, quickly stepped mast and cables before craning in by 11:45.

The wings have been swapped and mirrored between starboard and portside arms: flatter wing 03 on the port arm with the previously seen orange marked dots across the entire wing span while the anhedral wing 02 was back on starboard arm with shortened outboard wing without winglet. After the usual dock checks, the team docked at 13:30 as the southerly seabreeze was filling in. The main M1-2 was hoisted by 13:40 followed by the J1-1.5 as the breeze measured 7-9 kn from 165 TWA with a flat seastate. The LEQ12 was boarded by 4 sailors only with swapping with a reserve helm on chase1. The first foiling stint began with a self take off at an approx speed of 17kn in 80 TWA, several tacks followed before transiting into a series of sudden bear aways and trim ups on both tacks.

Then the LEQ12 seemed to be focussing on high and fast modes testing and straight line sailing prevailed in upwind and downwind course. On several occasions a crew member was observed checking main foot and jib track while sailing and the first foiling stint ended after foiling for 75 minutes. The seabreeze seemed to have picked up measuring 12-14kn from 175TWA with a slightly larger choppy seastate and the team lowered the J1.5 to hoist their J2.

The second foiling stint lasted approx 45 minutes starting with a self take off seeing the usual sailing path executed by the LEQ12 several times on both tacks: mostly straight line sailing, 3 tacks, bearing away, 1 gybe and trimming up to repeat. The third and last foiling stint of the day began with another easy mastered self take off, after which the LEQ12 headed offshore for some longer runs before trimming up close to the harbour to lower sails. The day was called after an approx total of 16 tacks, 7 gybes, and 168 total minutes foiling time [Michele Melis AC Recon].

Weather Observations - Port Olimpic

We are showing 48hrs of readings from the nowcasting station at Port Olimpic near the America's Cup racecourse at Barcelona. The reading were taken at a height of 12 metres, rather than at 2 metres above sea level, which is the case with the AC37 Joint Recon Team.

Average wind speed was recorded at 4 - 7kts before 1200hrs at Port Olimpic in a weather station. It died down to just 3kts after that time before puffing back in at 7kts gusting 9kts around 1530-1600hrs. Peak strength for the day was 9kts

The direction was initially at 070 degrees (ENE) at 1200hrs, swinging to steadily to 180 degrees by 1530-1600hrs, and then settled in that direction for several hours.

Wave height was relatively low at 0.4metres.

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. Weather information is by Predictwind

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