America’s Cup challenger for record Ineos Britannia might have to rethink their current phase of testing after an onboard failure saw one of their boats damaged.
The team were out on their LEQ12, named T6, on Saturday (NZ time) to test a version of their rudder design in Barcelona. They were sailing on their foils, but under tow as they were out on the water without a rig in light conditions.
The session looked to be going smoothly, until a failure in the rudder system saw the component begin to move in an unusual manner, before the boat made a sharp 90-degree turn which tossed the sailors around.
While everyone onboard came out unscathed, co-helmsman Giles Scott said the vessel wasn’t quite so lucky.
“We ended up with an extreme load case and ended up with some pretty heavy damage,” Scott said.
“We had a few things we wanted to sign off with the rudder and I suppose we knew that today we were pushing to an extreme. Unfortunately, we overstepped the mark there, but the positive side of it is – albeit it is some destructive data – we’ve got a good point in the data set there and it can only help.”
T6 is the team’s testing-only boat, with the class being called LEQ12 as is must be less than or equal to 12m in overall length. It is similar to the one-design AC40 that the teams are racing in preliminary regattas with a crew of four, however because it is merely a vessel for testing components ahead of the build of their new AC75, teams are able to configure them as needed.
With the America’s Cup to be contested around this time next year, it’s a glimpse at the potential conditions for the event and vital time for the crews to be learning how to best approach their work in such conditions; Saturday saw them sailing in about 6 knots of wind, which is just below the minimum wind requirement for a Cup race to commence.
Scott said the boat was “under reasonable control” during the session up until the moment it came to an abrupt halt.
Ineos Britannia, who struggled in the first preliminary regatta on the AC40s in Vilanova i la Geltru last month, will now have to examine exactly what went wrong and how badly the vessel is damaged, though they do have their one-design AC40 on hand in Spain and can begin to build towards the next preliminary regatta, which is in Jeddah in November.