Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup

Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup

America's Cup, an upbeat mood all around Ineos Britannia


20/04/2023 - 13:41

There’s an upbeat mood all around INEOS Britannia at the moment and a near five-hour testing session in pitch-perfect conditions out in Palma simply added more fuel to a fire that is burning brighter and brighter as the weeks go by. Flat water and 8-10 knots of breeze made for a day that would have the engineers back at Mission Control at Mercedes Applied Science in Brackley, jumping for joy.

The opportunity to really test the inverted W-Foil on both long and short runs through a huge variety of modes was fully taken by Giles Scott, Dylan Fletcher-Scott, Leigh McMillan and Iain Jensen who put ‘T6’ through her paces, revelling in the conditions – they could have been out there all night. The starboard foil today had a camera mounted underneath the bulb and, in close-up shots of the outboard wings, can clearly be seen tiny white free-flow strips dotted all the way out to the wing tip.

On the bow of T6, two red marker lines could be seen attached to the bustle and this is a team very much playing with the interaction between the wing and the bustle as was confirmed in interview later with Will Bakewell, the Test and Validation Lead for INEOS Britannia who said: “That’s definitely been sort of the top of the objectives list in trying to nail down various things associated with wings and hulls, which I'm sure it is for all of the teams at the moment.”

Quite whether the other teams are exploring this as hard as the British is debatable but the noticeably, and naturally, low flight whilst on port tack or port gybe with the starboard foil immersed is where the team find themselves. On occasions when they rode high, it was only for a very short time before the flight controllers quickly brought T6 back down to a more manageable level of wave skimming and still the occasional hull splash down occurred. It’s hard to tell whether it’s what the team refer to as a ‘corner case’ where they are pushing a cant or wing angle mode to test, or whether it’s something fundamental that needs work.

In interview, all the Ineos Britannia team are coy about the W-Foil with responses varying from “It’s certainly different” (Giles Scott) to “It’s obviously an interesting design” (Bleddyn Mon, to “It’s definitely an interesting concept” (Luke Parkinson). Today Will Bakewell put things into perspective when he said in interview afterwards with Justin Chisholm of the Recon Team: “It's obviously very different to what we've got on the other side, and I think that's a massive advantage and just being able to form those comparisons because we operate in very changeable conditions so trying to draw absolute comparisons on tiny changes is sometimes quite difficult so just having that comparison there is really useful.  And it's different in so many regards as well that we can learn from it in all conditions and that's what we were trying to do today…it's not been a disappointment at all, actually it's gone very well, it's been reliable and interesting so I guess that's all that you can hope for.”

Whether the W-Foil continues as a concept or the team take the data from the port foil and go down the refinement route that we see on the likes of Emirates Team New Zealand, NYYC American Magic or Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli is in the hands of the highly experienced design team and engineers that INEOS Britannia have at their disposal. On the water, the sailors look more than good, inducing windward heel upwind and downwind and rifling through tacks and gybes with a 90% success rate either foil-to-foil or touch & go as well as completing huge data runs across the Bay of Palma.

Ineos Britannia are a happy camp at the moment. Boxes are being ticked, test lists are being completed, conclusions are being drawn. What they do next will be fascinating.

New look, new faces for the 52 Super Series champions
11th Hour Racing Team and Malizia to duel for top spot on