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Cup Spy May 11: Brits keen to get some monkeys off their backs

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 11 May 15:31 PDT 5 May 2024
INEOS Britannia - AC75 - Day 10 - May 11, 2024 - Barcelona © Job Vermeulen / America's Cup

After several 'anni horribilis' - extending a phrase used by her late Majesty, the British America's Cup team appear to be off to a much better start, in 2024.

What happened in the Cup - May 11, 2024:

  • INEOS Britannia were the only team to sail their AC75 raceboat today their fourth sailing day this week off Barcelona. The Brits have fitted two new wingfoils to Version 2 of the AC75 Class Rule. The boat is about 800kg lighter than the AC75s used in the 2021 America's Cup, and the Brits look to have been testing their light air performance, which was their Archilles Heel in the 2021 Prada Cup.
  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli sailed yesterday for the last time in Cagliari and are packing their AC75 for the move to their race base in Barcelona.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing did not sail today having sailed for three of the last four days.
  • American Magic did not sail today after having had a busy week since their launch four days ago, again sailing for three of the four days.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand stopped sailing on May 1. Is now backing their AC75 for Barcelona - expected to resume sailing in early July. They have started a race training block for their AC75 and Youth and Womens crews in a pair of AC40s in Auckland, which is expected to continue next week at least.
  • Orient Express Racing Team: No AC37 Recon Team report. However they were sailing their A40 in One Design mode and getting a look at the other teams. A launch date has yet to be publicly advised for their AC75 raceboat.

Commentary: Brits get the Monkeys off their backs

Having hit their stride over the past week, with their new AC75, the Brits seem keen to put some forgettable experiences - extending back to the 2017 America's Cup campaign in Bermuda - behind them.

Conditions like today are the equivalent of quicksand for the foiling monohulls - with the test being to self start foiling in a low windspeed - ideally less than the 6.5kts minimum to start an America's Cup race.

This Cup began badly with a measurement issue on their plans to install a towing pole on their test boat T6, a couple of battery fires, inverting a test boat - destroying internal systems, and other issues almost too long to list. And that is not to forget their stickiness in the 2021 Prada Cup, and their slide sideways into Softbank Team Japan on the first day of the 2017 Louis Vuitton Trophy in Bermuda - holing both boats.

While it is early days, their fortunes seem to have changed with the launch of Race Boat 3. The Brits seem keen to do a high level test of their AC75 - quickly checking all the potential areas that could indicate design or other issues - which require serious design, shore or sailing team attention.

Today's long session in light winds, would have been embarrassing in their 2021 America's Cup challenger - which was beaten by two legs of the course by Emirates Team New Zealand in the light airs of the final day of the so-called Xmas Cup in December 2021, sailed in Auckland.

While any AC75 looks fast sailing alone and tacking/gybing in its own time, the Brits stats from today, and since their first sail - look encouraging.

The estimates takeoff angle and speed today, is about the same as other teams. While they only managed nine dry foiling tacks, with the deep skeg AC75 hulls of the Class of 2024 - a "touch and go" tack is probably acceptable and maybe not significantly speed reducing. Only three touch down tacks on a day of varying wind pressure, is quite acceptable. Their gybe numbers are also good for the conditions.

So it is probably small wonder that the Brits are keen to get sailing, put their new steed through its paces, and start to erase some of the bitter memories of Cups past.

While it is early days, the Brits should be walking with a bit more spring in their step.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Report:

INEOS Britannia - AC75 - Day 10 - May 11, 2024 - Barcelona

INEOS Britannia rolled out RB3 at 10:00hrs today and launched 40 minutes later. After some regular checks and maintenances on the different aero and flight control systems, the team docked out at 1230hrs.

Main sail MN1 was hoisted and paired to a J2 jib at the entrance of the harbour at around 12:50hrs. Luke Parker was trimming in starboard side today instead of Bleddyn Mon who was in the coach boat (and provided today's interview).

The sea state was looking really flat today and a breeze of about 10-12kts was blowing from a 190º at the harbour entrance.

RB3 started sailing in a very long upwind straight line in starboard side. After around 2-3 nautical miles sailing offshore the wind got lighter and stable into 5-7kts from 200°. They kept sailing in the same tack for almost 7nm. After they tacked, they continued sailing upwind for 15 miles more drilling 12 tacks and some straight lines in between.

Those tacks were done in the low range from J2 jib and we could observe that was happening something like what happened yesterday with J5: at the exit of the tack the bow was falling into the water surface. They tried different ways to enter and exit the tacks with different height, turning speed and even sometimes with roll angle to leeward before tacking.

Wind dropped and one of the chase boats towed RB3 back to Barcelona harbour to find wind. Around 1440hrs they found 6 to 8 kts from 200° and they continued sailing RB3 into downwind drilling 11 gybes. These manoeuvres were quite successful, and it seemed to us that today they were trying to drop the windward foil arm as late as possible just before crossing the stern by the wind axis in the gybe.

When going back to the upwind sailing they had a bit more of wind than on the previous one and they could drill more successful tacks using low heights.

They swap batteries and changed jib J2 for jib J1 at about 16:40hrs. About 30 minutes before they changed the cyclors, who were cycling for a bit more than 90 effective minutes.

With the J1 up they sailed with below racing limit winds of 4 to 6 kts from 180º (1700hrs) and they could perform one downwind and one upwind.

It was quite impressive that the boat was able to take off itself sometimes in wind measured at sea level at around 5 knots (maybe there was more wind higher up INEOS Britannia's rig).

The bustle and the thin and deep skeg seem to work pretty good on this light winds and flat sea conditions.

The manoeuvres seen when sailing with the J1 were greater than the ones seen with the J2 in the limit range by the beginning of the session.

INEOS Britannia dropped sails at 18:05hrs and dock in was done at 18:30hrs.

As a summary they sailed today for 76nm and three upwind speed test drills (1 with very long straight lines), 2 downwind legs, 27 tacks (15 touch and go, 3 touch down, 9 fully foiling), 17 gybes (2 touch and go, 15 fully foiling) and 2 luffing manoeuvres.

Crew - Sailing: Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott, Luke Parkinson, Leigh McMillan
Crew - Power: (FC) Freddie Carr, Harry Leask (->Matt Grotel, Ben Cornish ). Power Group: Neil Hunter, Ryan Todhunter (->Michael Rossiter, James Skulczuk)

[From: AC37 Joint Recon Team: Jose Luis Piñana - AC Recon]

Session Statistics: INEOS Britannia - AC75 - Day 10 - May 11, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 21° Clear Sunny
  • Wind Strength: 4-12kts
  • Wind Direction: 180°-200°
  • Sea State: 0.2 - 0.3mtrs from 145°
  • Crane In: 1040hrs Dock Out: 1230hrs
  • Dock In: 1830hrs Crane out: 1920hrs
  • Takeoff Angle TWA: 085° Speed: 16kts
  • Total Tacks: 27 Fully Foiling: 9 Touch & Go: 15 Touch Down: 3
  • Total Gybes: 17 Fully Foiling: 15 Touch & Go: 2 Touch Down: 0

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, and 2017 and 2021 America's Cups. Its format is intended to give Sail-World readers a snapshot of all teams' progress on a given day or period.

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