Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup

Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup

Ineos Britannia, day one of a new dawn

Sport

11/05/2023 - 09:45

Ineos Britannia looked scintillating on Wednesday as the team took to the water with their new slight-anhedral, long-span, port foil replete with its barrage of mounted cameras for a superb day of commissioning that will certainly have raised a smile with the design office and data engineers back at Mercedes Applied Science HQ in Brackley, Northamptonshire.

What we saw later in the session after the usual high-speed tow-testing protocols were completed, was the British LEQ12 ‘T6’ test platform seemingly a step change on in terms of user-friendly with beautiful low-flight, end-plating the bustle and the surface of the water and far smoother tacks and gybes.

Upwind on either foil, T6 looked stable in flight and gave the Flight Controllers, Leigh McMillan and Bleddyn Mon, the ability to sail super-accurately to ride height targets (clue: low) whilst offwind with marginally less apparent wind to contend with, the ride height was higher for speed with some stunning gybe-to-gybe success numbers fully foiling.

The air of ‘cautious optimism’ around INEOS Britannia perhaps masks ‘real’ optimism as the performance today on the water was a marked improvement from when the team were running different junction height foils with the W-Foil concept hanging off a shortened starboard foil arm. Yes, there were a few ventilations that caused the inevitable splashdown but in this commissioning phase as the team push into what Giles Scott famously called “corner cases” of flight, cant, trim and pitch, it’s to be expected but coming ashore the team looked more than happy with their solid afternoon out on the Bay of Palma.

Bleddyn Mon, arguably the key link within the INEOS Britannia team between the sailing and technical sides of the programme, was trimming and flight controlling from the port side of ‘T6’ today and he gave a terrific run down of the new foil profile saying: “It's kind of a concept that we’ve seen across a few of the teams so yeah early days for sure for us, very much a commissioning day really to be honest, making sure that it's kind of actuating as expected and everything and we’ll have to have a look at the data tonight and see what we can see with it.”

Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup
Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup

Asked whether the new foil was angled squarely at the expected swells in Barcelona, Bleddyn offered: “We obviously saw the Kiwis last time round with a slight curve into their foil and it seems like most teams are kind of leaning that way. The challenge is obviously choosing where to stick the junction and how confident you are with that in a sea-state, so we have seen a few variations across the teams and hopefully over the next few weeks we’ll draw our own conclusions from it.”

Getting that junction height right on these foiling monohulls is perhaps one of the key decisions of this America’s Cup cycle and the ventilation that INEOS Britannia has experienced is clearly something that the team will be looking to iron out completely in the coming days of testing as Bleddyn confirmed, saying: “Often you get a bit of a splash if you get quite a big vent and I guess as our control refines and obviously particularly in harder sea states, they potentially get a bit more frequent, but yeah not desirable.”

INEOS Britannia are forging a new path now in this America’s Cup cycle and on this, day one of a new dawn, the manoeuvre numbers were high with a 96% success rate foil-to-foil through the gybes and a 58% success rate foil-to-foil through the tacks in a breeze that barely got above 10 knots.

The coming days will be fascinating as the sailors get increasingly confident with the new foil and push harder through this exciting testing phase. Sailing is scheduled for Thursday.

Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup
Ugo Fonollá / America's Cup
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