Ben Ainslie and INEOS Britannia team suffered a double capsize, culminating in a complete ‘turtle’ of their T6 LEQ12 test boat.
After a dramatic recovery effort Ainslie commented . . . “We salvaged the best I think we could and finally got the boat upright and then to cap it off we had some major issues with the lithium batteries setting alight which was the final bit of carnage for the day”
After some three very productive hours of data collection at rapier pace around the Bay, the day turned somewhat for the worse just before 4pm as T6 got loose with leeward heel and bow up.
The flight controllers corrected everything but just seconds later the team found themselves capsized on the starboard side with an uncharacteristic loss of sail control.
The INEOS chase boat was in quickly and a tow line attached, the standard procedure for righting foiling monohulls.
But as the boat came upright the team couldn’t hold the bow into the wind and with the crew unable to depower the mainsail, the boat flipped back over onto the port side and capsized again.
Following the second righting, with the bow of the boat submerged up to the mast, the support crew had to move fast to get pumps onto the boat to avoid it becoming swamped.
With an inflatable buoy was attached to the bow and a long inflatable tube inserted down the inside of the hull to prevent sinking, T6 was coaxed gently towards Palma Port with a chase boat attached on either side.
Shortly before entering the harbour the crew had to deploy specialist fire extinguishers to deal with the boat’s now smouldering Lithium-Ion batteries setting alight.
Speaking about the incident, a determined Ben Ainslie commented:
“We salvaged the best I think we could and finally got the boat upright and then to cap it off we had some major issues with the lithium batteries setting alight which was the final bit of carnage for the day.”
“We’ve got the boat back in probably the best shape we could considering it went turtle and we’ll re-group and have a look at what the issues are and what caused it. The only positive was that we were about to go into an upgrade window so if this was going to happen, it’s not a bad time.”
And praising his outstanding team, Ainslie was effusive saying:
“The team did a brilliant job. We sort of train for these things but until it actually happens, you’re never quite sure and that’s the first capsize we’ve had full turtle in these boats so plenty of learnings for us and I’m sure for the other teams watching but we’ll take it on the chin and come back from it.”