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Cup Spy Jan 31: INEOS Britannia heads offshore, while Patriot has a foggy encounter

by Richard Gladwell/ 1 Feb 2023 16:57 NZDT 1 February 2023
INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - January 31, 2023 - Badia de Palma - Mallorca © Ugo Fonolla / America's Cup

What happened in the Cup - January 31, 2023:

Two teams trained on Tuesday. American Magic was again greeted by a fog bank and stayed on the inshore course at Pensacola. The Brits went offshore in search of a breeze off Mallorca. They found it and had a good training session.

  • INEOS Britannia towed their LEQ12 10nm off Mallorca in search of a breeze, and then had a good session. Coach Rob Wilson comments on the day.
  • American Magic was confronted by a fog bank in Pensacola and decided to train on the inshore Course. Flight controller and sail trimmer, Michael Menninger discusses the issues around flight control in a seaway.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing did not sail today.
  • Luna Rossa did not sail today.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand did not sail, Auckland is currently under a State of Emergency for the rest of the week, due to a series of past and expected severe weather events. Fortunately the team is located in the area developed for the 2021 America's Cup bases, and long-planned stormwater infrastructure projects were implemented in 2020/21.
  • No further developments from the late entry French K-Challenge. An announcement will be made in Paris, on February 2 by the team and their challenging club Societe Nautique de Saint-Tropez.

    INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Mallorca - January 31, 2023 - Day 18

    Top sailing journalist, Justin Chisholm was on the water and made various observations:

    With a complex weather scenario in play on Palma Bay today – which involved northerly gradient breezes being negated by a nascent sea breeze created by warm sunshine and clear blue skies heating up the Mallorca landmass – INEOS Britannia's meteorological advisors called for an offshore day out side the confines of the bay.

    A scheduled 1200 dockout was delayed until 1315 due to technical issues we believe to have been related to the pair of GPS aerials on the British LEQ12's stern quarters. Once out of the harbour and mainsail hoisted the T6 test boat was towed south for 30 minutes at 20 knots out into the open waters of the Mediterranean.

    Conditions outside the bay comprised 9 knots of wind from 240 to 260 with a bumpy unpleasant seastate made up of a characteristic Mallorca short steep chop overlaid with a half metre swell. Not ideal conditions for foiling perhaps but the British crew – helmsmen Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott, with flight controllers/trimmers Leigh McMillan and Luke Parkinson (who swapped out for Iain Jensen during the session) – made the best of them to rack up plenty of flying time during a 50 nautical mile day.

    Take offs were mostly self-generated but there were a few tow ups during lighter patches of breeze. The crew started the day with a series of take offs, shore one minute or less flights, followed quickly by another takeoff. The team's coach Rob Wilson said this 'circuits and bumps' session was a planned take-off practice session.

    Later in the day there were several extended foiling runs with multiple foiling tacks and gybes – some clean and others involving touch downs.

    The only issue the team encountered was a break required to fix an issue with the J1 (used all day) halliard lock which had rleased itself while the boat was in flight. With the sun only just above the horizon at 1715 the breeze finally began to fade, putting paid to chances of anymore foiling.

    Sails were dropped shortly afterwards before a long (10 nm) tow back to port.

    After the session team coach, Rob Wilson gave his prespective on the day.

    "We're still in this tricky weather pattern down here in Palma. So we've got Northeasterlies/Northwesterlies. It was actually warm today. Earlier on, we had 15-16 degrees that we were signed to get a little bit of a sea breeze up near Palma . So with the northwesterly fighting the southwesterly we thought we'd cut our losses, in the end . And so it was a half hour tow to outside the bay, and we got some really good sailing in."

    He described the sea state as "a half metre swell and then a bit of a tricky chop on top of that. So you know, it certainly made the takeoffs a lot harder. And then, the whole control side more difficult in a straight line. It was really nice, it felt like a sort of scaled down Barcelona day. So it was good to be out there."

    Justin Chisholm asked Wilson to explain one of the Brits training routines where "we saw the boat doing a few short flights and then dropping off the foils and then just 30 seconds later another flight and then down again. Was that a deliberate kind of let's practice takeoffs at a certain angle?"

    "Yes, that was part of the day," Wilson responded. "It's just to check in on the takeoffs so yeah, we you know, get the boat up to speed and then we're just bringing it down again. It's quite useful exercise."

    "What did you learn about the boat sailing in those conditions, it's obvious to draw a parallel with what we're hearing about Barcelona," Chisholm asked.

    "We will have to have a look at the data and sort of dig into that side of it," Wilson replied. "There's lots of little pieces you're learning on all of these days, how the boat reacts in the flat water and in the sea state, and I wouldn't say it's one major thing, but sort of sum of lots of little things."

    Rob Wilson said they were pleased with the way T6, as the British test boat is known, was taking off - both unassisted in 8-9kts of wind and under tow in lighter winds.

    "Especially in that [difficult] sea state, which effectively makes it harder to take off. It's probably equivalent of a sort of eight knot, wind speed day. We were getting between by between five knots and probably 12 knots today in total.

    Session Statistics - Mallorca - January 31, 2023 - INEOS Britannia - LEQ12 - Day 18

    • Wind Strength 7kts(AM) 9kts (PM)
    • Wind Direction: NE (AM) SSW (PM)
    • Roll out: 1130hrs Dock Out: 1314hrs
    • Dock In: 1812hrs Crane out: 1840hrs
    • Total Tacks: 6 - Fully foiling: 0; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 2
    • Total Gybes: 6 - Fully foiling: 2; Touch & Go: 4; Touch Down: 0

    Crew: Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott, Leigh McMillan, Iain Jensen, Luke Parkinson (swapped out for Iain Jensen)

    American Magic - AC75 Version 2 - Pensacola - January 31, 2023 - Day 41

    From the AC37 Joint Recon Team:

    Patriot sailed inshore today, covered approximately 11 nm, comprised of 2 W/L legs.

    Three headsails were loaded into the support RIB, one was used. Sailing began at 1342hrs Patriot completed two maneuvers and ended sailing at 1417hrs. Patriot had a total flying time of 12 Minutes. Top speeds could not accurately be measured due to the short duration of the sailing.

    VIP's were observed on board the chase boats today including: Tom Whidden, Gary Jobson, and members of the DeVos family.

    A brief attempt was made to get some hours in but, the breeze never filled in consistently today. The fog was intermittent as well.

    Today's sailing efforts were likely for the benefit of the spectators.

    This was the second day in which Patriot had encountered fog at Pensacola and had their training session impacted by it.

    Patriot is not expected to roll out tomorrow Wednesday Feb 1, 2023.

    After the session Mike Petersen of the AC37 Joint Recon team asked Michael Menninger, a Flight Controller and Sail Trimmer on board Patriot for his take on the day.

    “It was good. We struggled to find some breeze. But we managed to get up and get a little bit of sailing. So it was a positive day and we tried to get as much out of it as we could. But we didn't have great breeze.

    “We're trying to squeeze, as much knowledge we can with the remaining days we have on Patriot because it's coming to a close soon.”

    The session then turned into a school on flight control and sail trimming, including whether the two roles could be combined. “With regard to light control, how much adjustment is needed to the foil flaps once you're in flight?” Petersen asked.

    “It depends on the seastate, it depends on the variability in the breeze, it depends on a lot of things. But as a flight controller, you're trying to be as consistent and smooth as possible, just to avoid using as much of the flaps and the elevator as possible.”

    “Can you tell us the difference between low flight and high flight? And when do you use the different modes?” Petersen asked “It's just how high you want to fly,” Menninger responded. “And I guess that could be another sea state, different moding option - the higher the sea state and the bigger the difference between the troughs and the crests, you may want to fly a little bit lower, just so you don't get as much tip breaching.”

    “Is flight control a full time job, or could it be combined with sail trim and/or cycling?” Petersen asked.

    “That's a good question”, Menninger replied. “That's something that we're, trying to ask ourselves and know a lot of other teams are asking as well. It's going to be a long process to learn how we can be good at kind of melding those two skills together. This is an ongoing thing that we're working on.”

    “When we're sailing offshore, and in a rougher sea state, do you tend to try to err on the side of a low flight mode for safety? Petersen asked. “It really depends how the boats setting up and what type of foil you may have on,” Menninger explained. “When we get to the America's Cup, it's going to be interesting to see how all the different teams choose to mode their boats through the sea state.”

    “People might choose different foils. They might choose to sail different cant angles, ride heights, etc. I think the sea state brings a certain dynamic piece to the sailing, and that I think teams will be able to make different choices and have different platforms.”

    “And just with a few days remaining, sailing Patriot in this session, what will the team specifically be trying to get out of the boat?” Petersen asked.

    “We're just trying to end on a high note. Just trying to wrap up this sailing, and our highest priorities put behind us and moving on to the AC 40,” was Menninger’s reply.

    Session Statistics - Pensacola - January 30, 2023 - American Magic - AC75 V1.5 - Day 40
    • Wind Strength 8kts (AM) 7-9kts (PM)
    • Wind Direction: S (AM) S (PM)
    • Sea State: <1ft chop (AM) <1ft chop (PM)
    • Roll out: 0946hrs Dock Out: 1130hrs
    • Dock In: 1626hrs Crane out: 1700hrs
    • Total Tacks: 44 - Fully foiling: 38; Touch & Go: 3; Touch Down: 3
    • Total Gybes: 28 - Fully foiling: 27; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 0

    Crew: Paul Goodison, Tom Slingsby, Dan Morris, Michael Menninger, Andrew Campbell, John Croom/ Madison Molitar/ Colten Hall/ Trevor Burd/ James Wright/ Tim Hornsby/ Taylor Brown

    Additional Images:

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