Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup

Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup

Ineos Britannia back with a bang


07/01/2023 - 13:54

INEOS Britannia became the second team to kick off the 2023 AC testing season with a very encouraging 45 mile run out in the Bay of Palma with T6, their LEQ12 prototype testing platform, that certainly looked much more stable in flight than we have seen to date. With the highly experienced AC Flight Controller Leigh MacMillan taking his first turn on the wheel in the starboard cockpit, supported by Giles Scott steering on the port side, the team simply got better and better as the day progressed as confidence in the platform built and the wind played ball.

Speaking afterwards MacMillan encouragingly explained after that: “Certainly we’re kind of letting it go a little bit more as the hours go by and all the shackles are coming off.” But it was a day on the water that very nearly got curtailed before it even started. On the first hoist of the mainsail, a sharp bang was heard around the halyard lock area, and it took some two hours with a shore-team member going up the mast three times to get the situation sorted and the boat back into sailing condition. Tough work for the shore team – especially as the swell started to build in the Bay – but nobody said the America’s Cup was easy.

Once flying, T6 looked immense, and the team hit speeds into the high 30-knot bracket on some blistering downwind runs that were certainly hair-raising and must have been electric onboard. One thing with T6 is its performance in waves with the wave-piercing bow section almost looking too slender for the task. Notable pitching was observed, and this is an area that clearly the team will be working on but in general, once airborne, the flight controllers Iain Jensen and Luke Parkinson looked increasingly comfortable holding the boat low and fast. Tacks and gybes were tentative affairs understandably and mainly initiated in displacement mode but one notable gybe towards the end of the session saw a near-perfect foil-to-foil captured by the on-water Recon Unit. Watch the tally count rocket over the coming weeks.

Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup

Too early to start talking about developments, INEOS Britannia still look like they’re in the commissioning phase of T6 but today was a big marker of intent for what’s in-store in 2023 for the team. A very long day on the water following the early issues with the mainsail but thoroughly rewarded by a blistering final run along the Palma City seafront and back into the harbour.

Asked about how much data was gathered after such a positive session, MacMillan offered: “There's going to be plenty of data for the guys to look through and from here on it's just learning as much as we possibly can to build into the race boat.”

INEOS Britannia starts the New Year as it means to continue.

On-Water Recon Unit Notes: The British team’s first sailing day of 2023 got off to an inauspicious start when shortly after the mainsail hoist there was a loud bang on board the boat as the sail fell off the halyard lock. It took three climbs of the mast and some feverish work on deck to get the issue fixed after around two hours.

Happily, that was the end of any obvious issues for the team and with the breeze kicking up to 12 - 12 knots from the southwest the British LEQ12 was soon up and foiling much more steadily that we have observed previously.

Onboard were Giles Scott (port helmsman), Leigh McMillan (starboard helmsman) along with trimmers/flight controllers Luke Parkinson and Iain Jensen.

The team made around 10 foiling runs during the day with estimated take off speeds were in the 12 - 16 knot range and the top speed downwind was estimated to be 35 knots plus.

Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup

Having lost time early in the day with the halyard issue the crew were keen to milk as much from the day as possible and stayed out until dusk. The finished the day with a spectacular fully foiling blast along the Palma city front to the mouth of the harbour to round out more than 40 miles of sailing the length and breadth of Palma Bay.

No word yet on whether the team will sail again tomorrow on Saturday January 6 but Sunday’s forecast is for very strong winds.

Onboard Today

Helms: Giles Scott / Leigh MacMillan

Crew: Luke Parkinson / Iain Jensen

Sails Used:

M1-1 Mainsail: 3 hours

J1-1: 3 hours

Total Tacks: 3 - 3 touchdowns

Total Gybes: 3 – 1 foil-to-foil, 2 touch & go

Wind Strength: 5-12 knots (PM), 12 degrees, Scattered Cloud

Take-off speed: 12-16 knots (estimate)
All foiling runs were self take off – typically at an estimated 12 - 16 knot

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