“The AC75s make an AC50 look basic! You go downstairs on these boats and look at the systems on board, it’s just absolutely mind-blowing.”
David ‘Freddie’ Carr is at the heart of powering one of these ‘mind-blowing’ boats, as one of the grinders on board INEOS TEAM UK’s AC75 – BRITANNIA.
Grinders are the powerhouses of an AC75. On BRITANNIA, everything below the water is powered by batteries and everything above the hull is powered by the men on board.
In short, the grinders’ manpower is critical to ensuring that a race plan can be executed and, in this campaign, INEOS TEAM UK took a strategic decision to have fewer grinders in comparison to their opponents.
“There is lot of freedom in the rule, and as a team we were able to divvy up the rules as we see fit,” Giles Scott, INEOS TEAM UK’s tactician, said before the final race of the PRADA Cup Round Robins.
“In our case, we sacrificed a few grinders to be stronger in other areas. We are pretty pleased with the trade-off we made, we feel we are racing well and hopefully it will continue.”
“The grinders are working incredibly hard and it’s an efficiency deal. As Giles said, these are decisions we made a year ago or more as they involve the layout of the boat and the systems we use,” Sir Ben Ainslie said.
“Our grinders actually had a lot of input with our engineers on trying to find the right solution; it’s working out, they are doing a good job.
“They are incredibly fit these guys and we couldn’t sail the boat with that fitness and the passion that they bring.”
Carr has five America’s Cup campaigns under his belt; Great Britain’s Challenge in 2003, Sweden’s Victory Challenge in 2007, as a grinder for Luna Rossa and as part of the British team in Bermuda.
As a result, he’s no stranger to being interviewed about his craft, and in recent times, there is one question which always gets posed.
“The question that you always get asked is, what’s it like sailing for Ben Ainslie? You get asked it in every interview and it’s just like sailing with one of your really good mates,” Carr said.
“He’s good bloke, an absolutely world-class sailor and the fiercest competitor [you will find].
“We did this competition during our safety training, who could hold their breath the longest, and he nearly drowned trying to win it! That’s Ben.
“He’s so positive the whole time. If we have a bad day, he’ll come in and say that we have learnt X, Y, Z and we did this better today… in a few days’ time we will do this better.
“He will tell us to keep driving and keep pushing, it’s really smart leadership and natural leadership. It’s what he does.”
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Driving and pushing on, is exactly what INEOS TEAM UK have done since a challenging set of warm-ups during the PRADA America’s Cup World Series Auckland and the PRADA Christmas Race.
After 26 days of relentless development work, they started the PRADA Cup Round Robins and last weekend, secured the fastest route into the PRADA Cup final.
INEOS TEAM UK have not lost a race in the PRADA Cup and their productivity has afforded them three weeks of valuable development time.
In America’s Cup sailing, every moment counts, and it means that they can enhance BRITANNIA and continue their quest of getting faster and more efficient on the water.
“This is next level [sailing],” Carr said. “The AC75s make an AC50 look basic! You go downstairs on these boats and look at the systems on board, it’s just absolutely mind-blowing.
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“Then when it comes to foil designers, for them it’s 15-times more complicated trying to get the foils to do what they want to do.
“The parameters they are working within, compared to the AC50 foils. It’s a challenge. It’s a real challenge.
“Every time we come in off the water, we have learnt something completely new. To say that every day is a school day, is an absolute understatement.
“It’s like every day you’re going into a physics lecture and learning masters physics! It’s pretty ‘out there’, I definitely have to have a few coffees before every debrief!”
Foiling aka flying explained…
As Carr mentions, AC75s have taken sailing to the next level and are a brand a new class of boat, which the world has not seen raced before.
AC75s are 75ft foiling monoholls. They are built to do the unfathomable and fly just above the water at speeds of around 60mph. How is that possible?
“We use the same technology as an aircraft but our wings, or hydrofoils, are under the water,” Carr said.
“As an aeroplane would use the wind moving over the wings to generate lift, we use water over the hydrofoil to release the hull and get the boat out of the water. The design and shape of the hydrofoil is key to the boat’s performance.
You are doing 50 knots across the water, supported by something the size of an ironing board which is keeping you foiling. When you put it like that, it’s absolute nonsense really, isn’t it? But, its good fun…
David ‘Freddie’ Carr – (Image – COR 36 | Studio Borlenghi)
“BRITANNIA can reach speeds of 50 knots (60 mph). Those speeds are fast for power boats, and until now, unheard of for sailing boats and there are no engines in sight.
“Foiling is what has allowed us to make this quantum leap in speed; by reducing the contact surface with the water the drag is hugely reduced.”
How does takeoff work?
The next question, how on earth do you get a seven-tonne boat to lift up out of the water in the first place?
Well, in the same way that a plane has to get up to speed before it departs from a runway, an AC75 needs to reach about 14 knots in order for the foils to get the force required to the boat up.
“Our 87ft main sail provides the thrust to get us going,” Carr explains. “It uses forces in the same way as an aeroplane would, but it’s stood upright.
“The wind passing over it provides the forward motion and when the boat reaches speeds for around 14 knots, the hydrofoils kick into action and foiling occurs.”
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Using all of the technology available, INEOS TEAM UK are able to travel at four times the speed of the wind.
“In short, in a race scenario, the earlier you foil, the higher your top-end speed and the greater the chance you have of winning that race.”
The next chance that INEOS TEAM UK will have to win a race will be in the PRADA Cup Final which starts on February 13.
At this point, the British team do not know who their opponents will be as Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team and New York Yacht Club American Magic must take part in a winner-takes-all PRADA Cup semi-final first.
The semi-final commences on Friday and if New York Yacht Club American Magic are able to take to the water, then it will mark the most remarkable turnaround for them after their heart-stopping capsize earlier this month.
Watch every moment of the America’s Cup challenge, live on Sky Sports. Coverage continues with the PRADA Cup semi-finals on Friday at 2am on Sky Sports Mix, repeated again at 9am.
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