It has been just over 5 weeks since INEOS TEAM UK launched their second AC75 raceboat in Auckland, soon ready to take to the race course in The PRADA America’s Cup World Series Auckland. Spinlock are excited to have also just delivered the teams racewear, the latest development of their custom SPINLOCK AC PRO protection jackets.
One of the most technical boats ever built, it needs to reach take-off speed as quickly as possible – across a range of wind speeds and angles – and pass through the air with the minimum of resistance. As the boat is bigger, faster and more technical than ever before, it is essential that the team’s safety gear meets the most exacting standards. The athletes need to be kitted out with the best possible protective equipment and flotation technology while remaining aerodynamic and able to athletically perform at the highest level.
There is no ‘off the shelf’ flotation for these teams and INEOS TEAM UK have been working closely with Spinlock since 2014 and both sides have carried product learnings from the AC35 to the AC36. The sailors still need to carry comms equipment, air supply and personal safety knife, all of which must be located on the personal flotation device (PFD) for efficiency, performance and comfort. Sweat-inducing bursts mean breathability is also high on the list of requirements.
The vests need to allow for hot air to escape quickly and efficiently from between the layers of foam surrounding the body. Spinlock’s use of innovative materials and ‘venting’ allow the sailors to perform knowing they are not going to overheat during a race.
It has been a process of constant development, with Spinlock trialling different materials, selecting fabric for minimum weight and maximum sports performance. With the introduction of the AC75, the risk of capsize has increased, so harness technology has also been incorporated into the PFD. INEOS TEAM UK Grinder, Nick Hutton, is in charge of developing the critical safety gear for the crew: “We finished the AC35 with a great launch pad for moving the Spinlock product forward. For this next iteration, we have retained all the ‘likes’ of the previous model and developed them for the new AC75 PFD. “Every little detail needs to be taken into consideration when developing our kit and we need to go into a training session or race knowing we have done everything we can to ensure the crew onboard are wearing the best safety equipment while also being comfortable and able to perform to their optimum.”