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Cup Spy Jan 14 : Brits end a successful day with a big splash

by Richard Gladwell/ 15 Jan 11:30 NZDT 13 January 2023
INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - January 14, 2023 - Badia de Palma - Mallorca © Ugo Fonolla / America's Cup

INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Mallorca - Day 12

INEOS Britannia continues to successfully climb what looked to be a very steep slope with the commissioning of their LEQ12 prototype boat T6. On Saturday the team sailed from Palma in a beautiful 14kt breeze and could really throw the test-boat around.

Top international sailing journalist, Justin Chisholm, is a member of the AC37 Recon Team assigned to monitor and report on INEOS Britannia. He reports:

INEOS Britannia helmsman Ben Cornish commented after the British team’s ultra successful last sailing session two days previously that “this is why we came to Palma – for days like these”.

He will likely be saying the same about the team’s twelfth sailing day today which saw the wind blowing at from 240 degrees at a peak of 14 knots, creating near perfect conditions for the four person crew of Cornish and fellow helmsman Giles Scott along with trimmers/flight controllers Bleddyn Mon and Leigh McMillan to put the silver T6 LEQ12 through its paces around the length and breadth of Palma Bay.

The early part of the day was spent practicing take offs with the team sailing just a few hundred metres airborne before dropping back to a slow displacement mode ready to accelerate into another immediate takeoff. After 45 minutes of this the team set off on a series of prolonged windward leeward runs around the bay from close to Maguluf in the west and all the way down to Arenal on the east side of the bay.

Multiple non-stop laps of this course were sailed with numerous foiling gybes and tacks, both of which looked more assured than during the previous session (possibly due to the flatter sea state today). Estimated top speeds upwind were close to 30 knots and downwind close to 40 knots.

At one point a fifth man joined the sailors – Chris Shirmer the T6 boat captain – and he was spotted filming the port foil arm joint in action while the boat was sailing upwind on starboard.

The boat looked largely under control throughout the day and appeared stable in flight at speed. However, two big nose first downwind splashdowns around 1530 were followed by a prolonged wait with a technician aboard down below before the sails came down at 1555 and the long tow in began. (See video below)

No damage to the boat was reported. A strong wind forecast for the coming days means INEOS Britannia will not sail again until Thursday earliest.

After the very successful session Justin Chisholm spoke with Shore Crew Manager, Jeff Causey about his responsibilities within the team, and the Brit's Palma winter base.

"It's a pretty wide range of responsibilities," Causey explained. "I guess the primary focus is looking after the reliability of the yacht and just trying to maximise our time on the water and our efficiency on the water. And that trickles down into quite a few responsibilities around keeping the base here running, it's a fairly small facility relative to the size of the organisation, so just trying to keep the base here doing the things we needed to do to get a productive day on the water."

Justin Chisholm: Today it was a productive day on the water another one good day on Thursday and another good one here. What can you tell us about today? What were the goals when you went out there?

Jeff Causey: The goals are always really just to keep them learning, moving forward. We always set out at the beginning of the day with an agenda and a lot of times we measure a good day by ticking off the things we intended to tick off but then we're learning a lot about the boat that we didn't expect as well which is a good thing. so time on the water is where where those gains come so that's really the priority for us.

Justin Chisholm: We saw a fifth man on the boat at some point looks to us like he was maybe filming the port foil the joint. Can you tell us anything about what was going on there?

Jeff Causey: That's Chris Schirmer, the boat captain. We're still sort of transitioning from a commissioning phase of signing the boat off structurally and mechanically and and crossing into learning , into that become more performance driven as well. So Chris gets on the boat a lot to check on things we have questions about with geometry and make sure everything's working alright, and checking on strange noises and that sort of thing.

Justin Chisholm: We also noticed on the hydraulic system at the back there's what I can only describe as a pole stick sticking out of the back what's that all about?

Jeff Causey: It's really just a baton system to support the end plating section of the mainsail.

Justin Chisholm: We saw a big splash down at the end of today's run which had lots of stable flight. And then on the last downwind there was a big splash down quite spectacular. Is the boat okay?

Jeff Causey: Yes, I think the boat is fine.

Justin Chisholm: Did that curtail the sail the day today?

Jeff Causey: We were getting to the end of our day anyway. And that probably had an influence on it more to sort of understand what happened there

Justin Chisholm: What are we looking at next few days? It's gonna be windy here in Parma next week.

Jeff Causey: We're gonna put the boat in the shed for the next four days and and get through a couple of upgrades that we want to try for the next sailing day and take advantage of, as you say a windy few days, so probably has us off the water anyway, so we'll try and front foot that.

Session Statistics - Mallorca - January 14, 2023 - INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Day 12

  • Wind Strength 0-2kts(AM) 13-14kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: S then SSW
  • Roll out: 0920hrs Dock Out: 1100hrs
  • Dock In: 1640hrs Crane out: 1715hrs
  • Total Tacks: 8 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 6; Touch Down: 3
  • Total Gybes: 6 - Fully foiling: 3; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 3

Crew: Giles Scott, Ben Cornish, Leigh McMillan, Bleddyn Mon

This commentary was written and compiled from video, still images and statistical content extracted from the AC37 Joint Recon program and other material available to Sail-World NZ including photo files, and other on the water coverage from the 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2021 America's Cups.

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