INEOS TEAM UK are currently testing their first AC75 ‘Britannia’ from their base in Old Portsmouth. The team’s comms department caught up with CEO, Grant Simmer to get the low-down on the British campaign so far.
What are the key areas you think could win the 36th America’s Cup?
The things that will win the next edition are the ability to sail the boat at close to optimum performance for the most time during the race, having the best foil package – rudders and foils will be important – and the ride control, how you control the ride of the boat.
You would lose, for sure if you had a catastrophic failure close to the Cup, these boats are highly loaded and pretty light so a major structural problem close to the Cup could definitely lose it for anyone.
By launching a test boat early, you had physical insight into the AC75 class, how risky therefore do you think Emirates Team New Zealand strategy, in not sailing a test boat, could prove to be?
I think Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) will actually gain back the time of not having a test boat, they gain a bit during our shipping times and since the last Cup they’ve relied a lot on their simulator – like all the other teams – so I don’t think it’s that risky.
Our test boat has been really good because it gave us a programme and project to work on early in the campaign. It was good getting the shore team and sailing team together and getting some systems in place, we learnt from just getting out and sailing a boat in this configuration.
You have competed in eleven Cups and won it four times in various roles. Which campaign do you think was the most mentally draining?
They were all difficult! I think the Deed of Gift match in 2010 was probably one of the hardest, because it was on and off and we weren’t really sure when and how we were ever going to race. The boats were cool but quite difficult.
The other one was 2013 in San Francisco where we [Oracle Team USA] had that really big capsize and nearly lost the first boat, we had other penalties on the team, with sailor bans and penalty points as a result of the AC45 scandal. It was a real mess at times and clearly in the end it worked out but only by the slimmest of slimmest margins.
What were the big lightbulb moments for you?
In the 2003 Cup with Alinghi, it was when we knew the boat was competitive and perhaps slightly better than the other teams, that was a great moment. We hadn’t really been able to gage the New Zealand performance up until then.
In 2013 it was when we realised, we could foil upwind, which was critical to that Cup.
There haven’t been any lightbulb moments yet in this campaign, but hopefully we will have one in the next few weeks!
How critical is hull shape in this Cup to assist foiling – and could we see something radical here for boat #2?
We could definitely see something quite radical, there’s enough scope in the rules! ETNZ’s boat, with the central bustle, and the Luna Rossa boat are clearly designed for foiling and not for displacement sailing. That tells us that they are not planning on racing in low wind speeds, they are planning to race in foiling conditions.
Any surprises so far in what you have seen in the recent boat launches?
ETNZ and Luna Rossa hull shapes are ideas that we thought about also. The ETNZ deck layout is very simple, with a strong emphasis on energy production.
With potential speeds reaching above 50 knots, could we see failures?
Yes of course, because of the high righting moment and being very light boats.
You can easily capsize these boats, a big focus will be the safety of the crew -followed by trying to protect our physical assets.
Main image © Lloyd Images