Yacht Racing World Newsletter – Issue 9
Monday October 11
Yacht Racing Life – INEOS Britannia launches world-class team to challenge for 37th America’s Cup
INEOS Britannia today confirmed its core leadership team to lead the British challenge for the 37th America’s Cup live from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team HQ in Brackley, UK.
The America’s Cup is sport’s oldest international trophy, predating the modern Olympic Games by 45 years. Whilst the Cup started in Britain with a race around the Isle of Wight, it has never been won by a British team since.
Backing the team again is INEOS and INEOS’ Chairman and Founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who previously supported the team’s 36th America’s Cup challenge. Being part of the INEOS Sport group means access to a wider sporting family which includes the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team, the All Blacks, and football clubs OGC Nice and FC Lausanne-Sport.
As part of this high-performance group, the British America’s Cup team has come together with Mercedes-AMG F1 Applied Science, a division of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, to form INEOS Britannia, bringing together the best of the worlds of high-performance marine and automotive engineering, with the goal to win the America’s Cup for Britain.
Leading INEOS Britannia on and off the water into the 37th America’s Cup will be Sir Ben Ainslie, four-time Olympic gold medallist and one of only two British sailors to have won the America’s Cup (with Oracle Team USA in 2013) as Team Principal/CEO and Skipper.
Cup Insider – Ben Ainslie on the Ineos Britannia/Mercedes-AMG F1 Applied Science partnership announcement
Immediately after Monday’s live-streamed announcement Ben Ainslie took follow-up questions from invited sailing and motorsport media. Cup Insider’s Justin Chisholm was there to hear what he had to say.
Some people might be surprised that the British America’s Cup sailing team is now based in landlocked Brackley – 85 miles north of its previous HQ on the edge of the Solent in Portsmouth. What is the thinking behind that?
Just the level of the partnership we have with the Mercedes-AMG F1 Applied Science made it a no brainer, really.
From a design perspective, the 2000 people in this campus here are focused on trying to create the best possible Formula 1 car. For us to bring our designers here was a lot easier than trying to filter people out of out of Brackley down to Portsmouth, or wherever else.
Then there are the resources we can tap into. Things like components testing, or simulation – which we know in our world is as key as it is in Formula One. I think America's Cup in some areas is pretty developed. But in other areas, maybe it's a bit underdeveloped – a bit juvenile.
Within this organisation, when we've got a problem, we have the world's leading experts in any particular area that we can go to and ask that question of and get a response. Whereas before, we would go out to technical partners, and it might take you three or four weeks to get a response. So it's that capability that we're able to tap into that makes such a big difference.
Will the team ever return to its original headquarters at The Camber in Portsmouth?
Camber has got BAR Technologies in there. They are doing really well – as a business it's really taking off. They are not quite full capacity, but there's not actually any space for us – although I think there might be at some point for a reduced team for some different special projects. But we couldn't get to take the whole organisation back now.
Cup Insider – James Allison shares his thoughts on challenging for the America’s Cup with Ineos Britannia
Prior to this week’s partnership announcement from Ineos Britannia and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team, America’s Cup fans could have been forgiven for not knowing the name James Allison – writes Justin Chisholm.
However, the British designer’s skills and expertise have earned him legend status in Formula 1, and now he is set to make his mark on the America’s Cup world as his chief technical officer role at the all-conquering Formula 1 team expands to include the Ineos Britannia AC37 challenge.
Allison – who has described the opportunity to be involved in the British America’s Cup campaign as ‘mouth-watering’ – sat down with a small group of motorsports and sailing journalists earlier this week to talk about what lies ahead.
Here are the highlights of the Q&A:
Can you give an indication of where you think F1 expertise is particularly applicable to the challenge of building a boat fast enough to win the America’s Cup?
First off, I think it is worth pointing out that the engineers in America’s Cup – the people who have made that their lives – are very fine engineers and they are working on impressive stuff.
Traditionally they work in a championship that grows up to a crescendo - has its fight on the water and then sort of subsides. So they have this different business model to Formula 1 which this ongoing churn.
The fine detail of the hydrodynamics and the aerodynamics - the numerical optimisation that goes on - this stuff is very impressive. We can hold our end up – but we don’t necessarily transform their world.
Shirley Robertson Sailing Podcast – Delving deep into British Sailing's Olympic ‘Medal Factory’
In this month's edition of the podcast, Shirley Robertson talks to a host of Olympic sailing stars as she delves deep into the world of British Sailing, and asks just why the team has become such a dominant force in Olympic Sailing.
Robertson, a former Team GB member herself of course, a four time Olympian and double Olympic gold medallist, talks to three of Team GB's Tokyo 2020 gold medallists, discussing their own personal routes to victory, but also delving into life as a member of the most successful Olympic sailing team of all time.
In part two of the podcast Robertson talks to the men's 49er Class crew Stu Bithell and she talks to Finn gold medallist Giles Scott. Both Bithell and Scott thrilled British sailing fans in the manner of their medal wins, both managing to grasp gold medals that seemed to be slipping away in two of the closest medal races in recent memory.
Bithell and helm Dylan Fletcher just squeezed enough speed out of their 49er to put points between themselves and New Zealand gold medal favourites Burling and Tuke, while Giles Scott manoeuvred himself back into gold medal position on the very final leg of his medal race after a nerve wracking twenty minutes of sailing that saw the reigning Finn gold medallist re-start his race...:
"The only way that I could really mess things up and slip off the podium was if I got disqualified and Josh (Junior) won the race. So that is your doomsday scenario that you have to talk about....so the conclusion to that was if there is at all a chance of you being over the line, you're going back and of course in that race there was an individual recall flag.....as soon as the flag went up I was going back, there wasn't anything going through my head....and from there it was a full scramble to try and get back into the race."
Robertson also gets an outside perspective on the Great British Medal Factory, talking to newly appointed US Sailing performance head Paul Cayard. A former Olympian himself, Cayard has been tasked with turning around the fortunes of the ailing American sailing team, and has an interesting take on his observations of the British setup.
In Part 1 of this edition she kicks off the podcast with the woman who's gold medal in the 470 Class in Tokyo makes her the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time - British 470 helm Hannah Mills. Robertson also talks to the Team's Head of Performance, Mark Robinson, she discusses the rigours of back to back Olympic campaigning with Team GB's Luke Patience. A three time Olympian, Patience started his career with a silver in London, but after two consecutive fifth place finishes in Rio and Tokyo, is both honest and sincere in his description of the pain that constant Olympic pressure can bring. It's a moving account from one of British Sailing's most eloquent of athletes.
Sailing World – The Go-To Bottom Cleaner
If you must know, it takes Marlene Plumley “about 5.3 minutes” to methodically clean the bottom of a J/70 in the water. She would know because she does every boat the same way every time, and as the diver of choice for many top teams in the class today, she could practically do it with her eyes closed.
“Starboard stern first,” says Plumley, who travels around the country servicing J/70 and J/111 teams. “I start with the starboard side of the rudder, which is the first and last surface I clean. Then I go forward, take a breath, go down, and clean a 2-foot-wide swath from the middle of the boat. Come up, take a breath and go back down, rinse and repeat.”
J/70 class rules prohibit bottom cleaning using breathing apparatus, so Plumley’s tools are simple: a mask, fins, a wetsuit and scrub pads. On one hand she uses a cut-resistant glove to operate a swivel pad, and she uses the other hand to check her work.
How does she know she hasn’t missed a spot? “Drag,” she says. “I can feel it.”
What she can feel and see is the gas film that most sailors don’t even realise exists.
“Photosynthesis happens day and night, above and below the surface,” Plumley says. “Every morning I dive a boat, I see an eighth-inch-thick transparent bio-slime layer, called gas film.”
That’s a slime that will grab dirt and debris in the water column, which we all know is slow, and Plumley doesn’t do slow.
Tip & Shaft – Franck Cammas: ‘We ticked a lot of boxes’
The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, considered by many to be the favourite in the Ultim class on the upcoming Transat Jacques Vabre, suffered foil damage during training last week out of Port-la-Forêt. Despite the start date being exactly a month away, November 7th, this setback does not seem to worry Franck Cammas, co-skipper with Charles Caudrelier, as Tip & Shaft's discovers when we caught up with him this week.
Can you explain to us what happened to you during your training?
We hit something with the starboard foil, we weren't going very fast, at 22 knots upwind, but it was pretty violent, one of the hardest collisions we’ve had with the boat in the last two years. The tip was damaged for about 30 centimetres right to the core structure, it also exploded of all the layers on the vertical part of the shaft because the foil twisted on contact. It needs about three weeks to repair it, but what is positive is that we did not damage the core structure too much, if the impact had been harder we might well have lost the foil, or part of it.
This is a big setback to your preparations?
Actually what troubled us more was not being able to complete that training course, we would have liked to be able to compare our performance downwind in the breeze with the new boats. And now it rules out the whole team’s activities for 7 days a week, until October 25, to fix that blessed foil. But beyond that it that did not stop us from sailing, and anyway, apart from final small adjustments to the pilot, we had finished our preparations.
Do you have a spare foil just in case?
Yes, we have our V2s, we have already tested the port foil, we still have a little work to do to finish the starboard. But this V2 is not yet fully developed, it requires adjustments that we have not yet been able to complete, we prefer to make these modifications before using them racing. So it is very important that we repair the damaged foil to be able to leave with the V1. We really want to retain the option of using one or the other until the last moment.
Sports Industry Group – Ben Ainslie buys majority stake in British SailGP Team
Ben Ainslie, the most successful sailor in Olympic history and a former America’s Cup champion, has become the majority owner of the Great Britain SailGP team.
Ainslie and business partner Chris Bake have purchased majority ownership in Great Britain SailGP Team, with American tech billionaire Larry Ellison retaining a minority stake.
With the global franchise sailing series now deep into its second season, the British team becomes the first to be taken under third-party ownership, a long-term objective of SailGP.
As a condition of Ainslie’s entry into the series, the Briton secured an option to take ownership of the franchise if its running costs and liabilities were covered in full.
With the series aiming to be ‘100 per cent powered by nature, both on and off the water’ by 2025, Ainslie sees the sustainability message as a key selling point to potential partners.
“I can see massive potential to bring in the commercial partners that want to be associated with the team, as well as younger sailors and female sailors and the sustainability angle that comes with the league”.
In the official announcement regarding the acquisition, Ainsley added: “With new teams, owners and partners coming into SailGP the league is in a very exciting commercial space right now.”
“SailGP has the commitment from Larry Ellison to take sailing where it has never been before. We look forward to welcoming new like-minded partners to the GB team who share our ethos and our drive to push forward positive change.”
Japan Times – Women to race with men in ‘groundbreaking’ shift from SailGP
SailGP will include female sailors in its adrenaline-filled racing for the first time this week by adding an extra crew position aboard its “foiling” catamarans.
There have been few routes for top female sailors to progress beyond events such as the Olympics and SailGP has implemented a pathway in an effort to address this gap.
The $1 million prize competition, co-founded in 2018 by Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison and SailGP CEO Russell Coutts, is in its second season and will see eight crews line up off Cadiz in Spain this weekend for the final event of its European leg.
One of those sailing in Spain will be Britain’s Hannah Mills, who became the most successful female Olympic sailor when she and Eilidh McIntyre won gold in the 470 dinghy at the Tokyo Games, adding to her gold from Rio 2016 and silver from the London Games.
Planet Sail – Formula 1 + America’s Cup
Merging INEOS Britannia with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team is a big deal and one that some believe paves the way towards a new era of advanced development in the America's Cup. PlanetSail’s Matt Sheahan was there and talks to the big guns to find out how this partnership will work.
We report on the SailGP season as the foiling fleet descends on St Tropez, plus we find out what the world's sailing rock stars do in their spare time.
But it's not all about foiling, Matt Sheahan got stuck in with the 44Cup fleet when it came to Cowes to discover why the world's best don't always choose foils.