Back in action

Sir Ben Ainslie’s INEOS Team UK is back on home waters, training on the Solent with reduced crew.

23 June 2020


After several months in lockdown, Britannia was sailing once again on home waters as the team resumed training ahead of the 36th America’s Cup.

With health and safety the priority, however, the team put in place a new strategy called Zero COVID Days, aimed at minimising the health risk to the team and the community.

The strategy covers everything from how the team behaves to how they operate at their base and in the community. Hygiene is a big focus, and INEOS has given all team members hand sanitisers and Henri-Lloyd face coverings.

Alongside that are the team’s social-distancing policies that they can monitor closely through social-distancing devices supplied by the company Mafic.

The policies continue out on the water, too. The sailors use the same PPE and they have placed an e-grinder on the boat.


It is effectively a large battery pack that reduces the requirement of the number of crew on the boat. That enables the team to space out as much as possible while still being able to fully operate and sail the boat.

Sir Ben Ainslie said, “It’s been a big week for us as a team to get back on the water sailing.”

“It’s been an incredibly difficult time for everyone, be that in our America’s Cup world or for everyone around the world, so it has put a big smile on a lot of faces to get back out there doing what we are supposed to be doing and pushing the team forward toward the America’s Cup in 2021.”

Construction of the second INEOS AC75 hull continues at Carrington Boats in Hythe, Hampshire, with forty people working a double-shift arrangement, plus a team working at the Portsmouth base.

On its return from Sardinia, Britannia was sporting a new skeg attached to the underside of the hull. It is not known if this has been retained for the latest on-water sailing.

The team’s first race boat Britannia I is operational on the water in Portsmouth, and Ainslie indicated that there could be changes to the second INEOS AC75.

“There are a lot of development items that are coming through that will eventually get onto our second boat.”

Ainslie and the INEOS sailing team are due in Auckland just as the UK summer winds up toward the end of August. That leaves them a tight four months, maximising every minute of on-water training time in the lead-up to the America’s Cup World Series event still scheduled for 17–20 December.

Emirates Team New Zealand has moved to quash speculation of a delay to the World Series. Media reports in New Zealand have suggested the first critical hit-out between all four of the foiling monohull AC 75s could be pushed back a month, to January.

However, that would require the approval of the Cup Defender Emirates Team New Zealand, and the Challenger of Record, Luna Rossa. “To clarify speculation on movements of America’s Cup regatta dates, the Defender confirms there is no change in the event schedule,” Emirates Team New Zealand said in a statement.

America’s Cup watchers in Auckland have plenty to keep them occupied with the anticipated arrival of the American Magic syndicate’s boat on Friday.


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