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Spinlock kit the sailors out for battle

3 Mar 2020

Spinlock kit the sailors out for battle

It has been just over 5 months since INEOS TEAM UK launched their first race AC75 boat, Britannia, a radial monohull that foils on wings. 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.  

Spinlock kit the sailors out for battle

Spinlock kit the sailors out for battle

There is no ‘off the shelf’ aero body armour; it has to be custom-made and incorporate a range of factors. For INEOS TEAM UK, there was only one supplier to work with: Spinlock. The team 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.

Team Great Britain SailGP Team presented by INEOS wore the same Spinlock PFD as INEOS TEAM UK

Team Great Britain SailGP Team presented by INEOS wore the same Spinlock PFD as INEOS TEAM UK.

It has been a process of constant development, with Spinlock trialling different materials, selecting fabric for minimum weight and maximum sports performance. Spinlock have also developed a new spine protector using SKYDEX, an advanced impact mitigation material using cushioning geometries to distribute pressure, provide greater comfort and precisely tune the response to mitigate impact. SKYDEX is built into a greater larger area of the back panelling, providing body protection to the motorcycle crash protection standard and passing the 50N standard for flotation.

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.”

Team Great Britain SailGP Team presented by INEOS wore the same Spinlock PFD as INEOS TEAM UK. “We were thrilled to see the team perform on the Sail GP race course and claim their first event title in the latest generation PFD. Which helps ensure the boat handling and crew manoeuvring is as fast and athletic as possible. The Sail GP racing will line us up ready for any feedback for the next development of flotation and protection for the INEOS TEAM UK team and Britannia”, states Spinlock CEO Chris Hill.

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