INEOS Britannia, Sir Ben Ainslie’s boat on fire.

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America’s Cup team INEOS Britannia is going through a stormy time, and not only on the sea. After some disappointment in the America’s Cup preliminary races, with a Last and second-to-last place at the Vilanova and Jeddah stages., here comes more bad news: Sir Ben Ainslie’s AC40 literally burst into flames during a training outing in Palma de Mallorca, where INEOS is based.

INEOS Britannia, Sir Ben Ainslie's boat on fire.
INEOS Britannia, Sir Ben Ainslie’s boat on fire.

Is there a problem with the electronics? INEOS Britannia is on fire!

Picture the scene: the crew is at sea and training when, suddenly, smoke comes out. Having a fire on board is never a good thing, when the lithium batteries are then on fire, the risk of an explosion on board is high. Fortunately, the team managed the emergency as best they could, pumping water into the battery compartment to contain the fire, and no one was injured in the incident.

The damage is yet to be assessed but there will probably be a redo of all the electronics on board, which, if it did not catch fire, has been in contact with salt water. This is no small problem, considering that the foils of AC40s are managed by on-board electronics. Without electro-hydraulic controls, it is impossible to fly!

And don’t think this is a problem only for INEOS Britannia. Luna Rossa also had a circuit overheating problem during the preliminary races in Jeddah, forcing her into a technical retirement during race 8.

Luna Rossa’s noose diving that caused it to withdraw from the final against Team New Zealand

James Barbaro

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