A possible lifeline was thrown to Ben Ainslie and the INEOS Team UK from Quantum Sails President Vittorio d’Albertas and his colleague Pietro Pinucci.
The Italian pair have become YouTube stars with their insightful comments on the new America’s Cup AC75 class, and their latest video looks at the foiling problems of Britannia, the British second-generation boat.
The AC75 class being used in the 36th America’s Cup introduced the first foiling monohull design to the event.
As with all foiling boats, getting on the foils and staying there in the wind range set for the event is key to winning.
This is obviously more difficult at the light end of the wind range . . . As dramatically demonstrated in the abandoned Christmas Race.
Britannia struggled to foil at all, while the Kiwi boat, Te Rehutai, was able to foil for most of the time, lapped Britannia, and only just missed completing the course outside the 45-minute time limit.
So, not only have the Kiwis shown more pace in decent sailing conditions, but they have also extended that to display strong foiling ability in the most difficult of conditions – all with the same foil/flap combination.
Vittorio and Pietro have looked at the problem that INEOS UK face and how resolve it in the short time available before they must compete in the Prada Challenger Selection Series, starting on the 15 January 2021.
Their theory is that the problem in the light wind, where Britannia requires considerably more speed before they can start to foil, is down to an incorrect angle of attack of the foil arm, requiring the application of excessive flap angle.
They conclude that the Britannia bow shape generates less lift in light airs than that of the other boats as they try to lift onto the foils.
And to overcome this they are applying excessive flap and/or rudder angle, which actually slows them.
This poor angle of attack could also be slowing them in manoeuvres, with the result that they lose distance at each tack and gybe.
As Vittorio points out, on the windy second day they were the fastest boat in a straight line but in the light wind they were terrible.
They believe the Brits will have worked out what the problem is and, if they are correct, then there is time to carry out the changes required.
The next event is the Prada Challenger Selection Series, starting on the 15 January 2021, with the boat configuration required to be declared for the Round Robin on 13th January.
Then a second declaration on 20th January, before the second Round Robin.
Before the Prada Cup Semi-final stage starting 4 Febuary there is another declaration day on 27 January and then a final declaration on 8 February before the Prada Cup Final Stage.