Ineos Britannia, joining the club

Ineos Britannia, joining the club

Ineos Britannia, joining the club


29/01/2023 - 18:19

Not exactly tourist brochure weather today in Palma with leaden skies relentlessly depositing persistent precipitation whilst the mercury barely nudged above 12 degrees all day. The wind thankfully came back in for the INEOS Britannia team who made the very best of Saturday to catch up on their testing programme having sat out Friday after the total becalm on Thursday. After a slow start, the Bay of Palma served up an afternoon of blustery 15-18 knot breezes with at times a short chop and it was clear that the sailors were more than up for the challenge.

Bleddyn Mon and Iain Jensen were spotted doing rock-paper-scissors before dock-out presumably to pick a pod (we think Mon won) and all round, the mood in the team is just so positive with plenty of smiling demeanours dockside which is always a good sign in an America’s Cup campaign. And the positivity showed as the British set to work, hurtling around Palma at speeds well into the 40-knot bracket. Testing tick boxes for the engineers and systems teams were completed at pace on the flat water early in the session and ‘T6’ – the Silver Bullet - looked rocked solid in flight and around the corners with dynamic sail control through the puffy conditions into the afternoon.

After a brief interlude when the wind dropped to sub 5 knots before thundering back in on darkening skies, the sailing team changed down from the J1 jib to the smaller J3 headsail and continued the session at even greater intensity. Then came a most curious low-speed capsize as T6 came to what seemed like a gentle wind-down to displacement. Both foil arms ended up in the raised position and over she went, rather agonisingly, in almost slow motion. Rob Wilson, the ‘Supercoach’ to INEOS Britannia summed it up calmly afterwards saying: “It was pretty benign to be honest and it kind of feels quite good to join the club as well because it's just a test of how the shore guys are going to react to that and it was all very calm, quite an efficient righting procedure so it was good to get that under the belt.”

And talking about what caused the splashdown, Wilson added: “We need to have a little look at the data but you've probably seen, and I'm sure you got it on the video, we ended up with two boards up in the air and so not a lot of righting moment and there was about 18 knots at the time and so it's just a real slow rollover and then we righted the boat from there, no damage to the boat initial inspections are all quite encouraging the boys actually really changed keep sailing but you know it's our first time putting her on a side so we thought it was prudent just come back to the shore and just check the electronics and make sure everything was okay.”

The recon unit captured the capsize on video and for sure the INEOS Britannia technicians will be looking at just why the foil arms were both raised with the most obvious explanation being just a simple communication error and it very much serves as a reminder to everyone just how difficult and complex these boats are to sail. The professionals more often than not make it look easy but after a week when Emirates Team New Zealand corkscrewed into a capsize on a fast bear-away and now INEOS Britannia ‘joining the club’ it’s a feature of these 40-foot pocket-rockets that the Cup world is getting accustomed to. The excellent INEOS Britannia chase boat team were quickly in to right the boat and the shore team will be undertaking a thorough inspection to ensure no damage to the complex electronics.

No harm done.

On Water Recon Notes: Despite some persistent drizzly rain in Palma Bay today, the British team had a sparkling day of sailing – marred only by a slow speed capsize around 1430 this afternoon which probably cost the team at least another hour off high-speed sailing in 15 to 18 knots of wind and flat seas.

Having hoisted the main and J1 and towed four miles out from land the LEQ12 crew – Giles Scott and Leigh McMillan on the wheels with Bleddyn Mon and Iain Jensen - later swapped out for Luke Parkinson – wasted no time in getting the silver boat up on foils in in 8 knots of breeze from 025 and a super flat sea state. Having completed two 15 - 17-minute foiling sessions the breeze faded to 5 knots prompting a brief tow up run of less than a minute. After a 30-minute wait for the breeze to fill in, it duly arrived at a solid 9 knots from 034.

Several dry windward/leeward laps were performed with multiple foiling tacks and gybes and fast head ups and bear aways included.

By 1400 the wind was up to 15 – 18 knots and the J1 was swapped out for the J3. While on a prolonged fast downwind run – during which the yacht topped 40 knots – after slowing and coming off foils, the crew appeared to lose partial control of the foils with at one point the windward and leeward foils both being elevated. What followed was a slow speed capsize to leeward (while on port gybe). With the two sailors in the windward pod perched above the water, the two leeward crew were easily able to swim or climb free, meanwhile, the chase boat crews were quickly into action. With the boat sitting comfortably on its side with the mast horizontal (courtesy of an inflated buoyancy bag sitting in between the sail skins at the top of the mainsail) a tow line attached to a canvas sling was passed to the upper pod sailors who appeared to attach it somewhere at the front of the cockpit. However, this approach did not appear to work and instead the tow line was attached to the bow for the boat to be towed head-to-wind and then righted.

Soon after time was called on the session and the main and jib were dropped prior to a bow two back to base.

Dock out: 0940 Dock-in: 1530

Conditions: Overcast with drizzly rain 4-8 degrees. Wind at 15-18 knots (PM) 5-9 knots (AM)

Onboard Today

Helms: Giles Scott / Leigh McMillan

Crew: Iain Jensen / Bleddyn Mon

Recon Notes: Jensen subbed out for Luke Parkinson in the afternoon

Sails Used:

Mainsail (MN1-1P): 3 hours 10 minutes

J1 (J1-1): 2 hours 20 minutes

J3 (J3-1): 1 hour

Total Tacks: 9 – 5 foil-to foil, 2 touch & go, 2 touchdowns

Total Gybes: 5 – 4 foil-to-foil, 1 touch & go

Recon Notes: Multiple self-take-offs with 1 tow up.

Take-off speed: 14 knots at 55 degrees TWA (True Wind Angle)

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