Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup

Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup

America's Cup, Ineos Britannia launch wing three

Sport

26/03/2023 - 16:47

Ineos Britannia had a stop-start kind of day out in Palma as the on-water re-commissioning of T6, the team’s now much-modified LEQ12 prototype, called for plenty of time from the support teams just outside the harbour as the technicians ironed out a few gremlins before tow-testing of the foil they are calling ‘Wing Three’ could commence. Indeed, Chris Schirmer, the T6 Boat Captain, stayed onboard for the day to be on-hand immediately as the highly technical product of the Mercedes Applied Science approach went through its commissioning protocols.

Giles Scott and Ben Cornish were called upon for the helming duties today with Iain Jensen and Leigh McMillan given the first cant sweeps and flap adjustments on the Flight Control. Very difficult to tell from tow-testing any meaningful analysis from afar but T6 popped to flight with ease and underwent a full hour and a half of data gathering behind the chase boat at pace. Palma was putting on its springtime best with a glassy sea under a 7 knot breeze and a respectable 15 degrees Celsius – perfect for Ineos Britannia to get this vital period completed in the most efficient manner ahead of sailing at the weekend.

After the towing sessions were completed, sails were loaded onboard, and after a lengthy time to hoist and adjust the internals within the double-skinned mainsail, the Chase Boat gave a tow-up onto the flat port foil in the hope that the breeze might just tip over the marginal and give the sailors some foil time. It wasn’t to be as T6 slumped into displacement, and the team wisely called it quits, accepting a fast tow back to base.

Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup

Speaking afterwards, Will Bakewell the Test & Validation lead for Ineos Britannia explained the very nature of T6 and the upgrade programme, saying: “It's been really good to get back out there and start learning stuff again. It's been a bit of a slightly extended delay compared to what we would have planned but yeah pretty good to be back out there…you may have noticed the new wing and there's a lot that you can see there and some that you can't. Good progress and I guess it shows the benefit that T6 as a platform that we can bolt new things onto and then really learn about those new items.”

Asked about what the recon team were sure was a new bustle profile, Will confirmed this saying: “I think you probably got a profile shot so yeah the new bustle on there as well and that's exactly the same thing, we designed the boat so that we can bolt new stuff onto it.” Will also alluded to the changes up aloft in the sails and control mechanisms when asked about the short sailing session, as he said: “It's still useful to hoist the sails and look at some changes we made there as well.”

From a recon perspective, ‘Wing Three’ remains a source of much debate. It’s a concept that INEOS Britannia trialled at AC36 in their testing programme but never used in actual racing so it will be interesting to see how small rules changes may well bring this design back into serious consideration for the one-shot AC75 that the British will shortly be going into build with. The coming weeks will provide the answers to all the questions that the analysts and designers back at Mercedes Applied Science HQ in Brackley, Northamptonshire will be asking. Intriguing to see how this one plays out.

Sailing begins in earnest at the weekend for the British.

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