They have been building up the excitement all week with teaser shots on social media, but today (Thursday) the veil was lifted out at the INEOS Britannia training base in Palma, Mallorca of the British team’s LEQ12 – its prototype testing platform.
Revealing an angular hull form with extreme faring forward that leads to an, almost, full length skeg running aft and a super-flat stern run-off, ‘T6’ as the boat has been named is a hive of detail, the result of an extensive partnership and integration with the Mercedes AMG F1 Applied Science team based at Brackley in Northamptonshire. Its slab-sides are reminiscent of the Te Kahu test boat built for Emirates Team New Zealand at AC36 whilst the flaring is very much a step-on of the Cup winning Te Rehutai design and we wait to see the first photographs of the deck layout and control packages.
The T6 hull was built by Carrington Boats at Hythe, near Southampton in the UK, before being transported up to the Mercedes F1 base in Brackley for its detailed fit-out of the electronics and control packages but James Allison, Chief Technical Officer of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team, is clear that this vessel is very much a platform to validate their design and engineering packages that they are deploying for this Cup cycle: “We understand from our F1 experience the vital importance of creating the best suite of tools for designing and engineering the vehicle. We also understand the crucial role that validation plays in improving and coming to trust those tools. T6 has been designed for that purpose, and we’re all looking forward to getting to grips with the data she can provide.”
Capturing that data and analysing the results will be key ahead of the team confirming the final design for their one-build AC75 that will compete in Barcelona at AC37 in September 2024 and with the team’s AC40 now in transit for delivery at the beginning of November, it is going to be a busy time for the INEOS Britannia team. Extensive tow testing of the hull form and, in particular, the almost elliptical foils that feature what is presumed to be a Pitot Tube protruding forward to measure fluid flow velocity, is now scheduled ahead of the team rigging and sailing the boat for the first time.
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were the first team to launch and start testing their LE12 in Cagliari, Sardinia and over the coming weeks, the recon teams and photographers will have their work cut out to capture all the developments of the testing schedules as they unfold. As a clue to how the next generation of America’s Cup yachts might look and the tweaks and controls that they will be deploying to harness the massive power generated in the AC75 rig, these LEQ12’s will be a fascinating watch.
The race for the America’s Cup is well and truly on with all the teams now on the water and breaking cover. Stay tuned.
Recon Unit Notes: A non-sailing day for the team as the new LEQ12 saw the light of day for the first time. Silver paint job with minimalist team branding. From the front the boat appeared to have a distinct V-shaped bow section which quickly transitioned into a super-flat aft section. Boat had vertical slab sides. A pronounced ‘hula’ ran from the bow to within less than a metre from the transom where it terminated at 90 degrees. Foils configurations were matching and terminated in wide flat T-foil wings with large, hinged flaps and a central bulb with a pointed forward-protruding stainless-steel shaft which is believed to be a sensor. Rudder was narrow chord and terminated in a flat T-foil. Bow had a bowsprit stub supporting a forward-facing want for wind instruments. The deck slopes steeply fore and aft from the highest point which is in front of mast step position. Two large oval flush access hatches: one on foredeck centre and one on forward part of aft deck offset to port. Aft section off deck around rudder post is soft material that can be unzipped for access to rudder controls. Centre aft is a king post for comms aerial of some sort. Twin cockpits either side of about 2.5 metres length and 0.75 metres width. Cockpits are divided into three sections.
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