Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott came out swinging on a perfect day on the Bay of Palma.
The helming duo, with a rightful weight of expectancy on their shoulders, put the hammer down for a session that saw them at near race-pace and looking very much the real deal.
INEOS Britannia unleashed T6, their LEQ12 prototype for an almost demonstration day of power, poise and pace with Leigh McMillan and Iain Jensen more than earning their wages on Flight Control and trim as the Ben and Giles show rolled around the Bay.
Right from the moment the tow line was dropped, T6 looked alive and a sighter foiling stint that lasted almost 90 minutes continuously was an opening salvo of intent that ticked off the design team boxes and sucked in the valuable oil of data that Mission Control back in Brackley, Northamptonshire at Mercedes Applied Science, who watch and monitor literally everything, desired.
With the testing done, it was a sailor’s afternoon. Downwind T6 looked on steroids – beautiful high flight and the most majestic gybe to gybes you could imagine, with high exit speeds and deep, deep angles.
Upwind it’s hard to deny that this bustle concept is a game changer, and it would be almost unimaginable if it didn’t make RB3, the team’s nickname for its raceboat for the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona.
There’s something of witchcraft going on as T6 sinks to the bustle-skim mode and not only fights leeway hyper-effectively but also allows the team to go through accurate modes between windward heel, flat, leeward heel and back to windward heel again. Impressive to watch at pace.
Trim, particularly of the mainsail, is looking increasingly accurate, more refined and perhaps to pre-defined targets. Certainly, a huge improvement from when the sailors first started on T6 and the little tweaks going into the tacks and the tiny dumps on the bear-away at the windward mark before rapidly re-sheeting were more than noticeable in Palma today.
The traveller and head of the mainsail look very much to be acting as one and it’s perhaps now in the detail of technique where INEOS Britannia will be making the significant gains.
After sailing, and having captured almost the perfect tack head on the recon team quizzed Leigh McMillan as to what the perfect tack entailed.
“You’ve got a lot of people involved in a tack and it’s just everyone all working nicely together, the timing and everyone’s in tune with that timing, and then swopping roles from one task to the other end and getting all of that timing right – getting the ride height, the heel and the pitch all nicely set up and all the trim adjustments you have to make, to exit the tack.”
“So, it’s a lot of choreography going on but I feel like we we’re getting pretty solid generally and trying to put the pressure on that in the pre-starts and put the pressure on a small racecourse and making sure that we’re getting more finely tuned . . .
you’re looking at speed lost through the tacks that’s always a good one if you’re not looking at the pure dynamics of the boat, just looking at your total speed loss from VMG to VMG through the manoeuvres.”