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The New Forest boat-builder behind Sir Ben Ainslie's bid to bring home the America's Cup

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Team Ineos go five from five in the America's Cup (picture: COR 36|Studio Borlenghi)
Team Ineos go five from five in the America's Cup (picture: COR 36|Studio Borlenghi)

SIR Ben Ainslie is perfectly placed in the fight to become the first British team to win the America’s Cup – and a Hythe boat builder has played no small part in that success.

Sir Ben’s Ineos Team UK beat fellow challenger Luna Rossa in Auckland last weekend to register a perfect five wins from five races and become the first finalist in the Prada Cup.

The winner of the cup will go on to challenge holders Team New Zealand for sport’s oldest trophy, the America’s Cup.

But it was made possible thanks to world-renowned boat builder and professional yachtsman Jason Carrington and his Hythe-based boatyard.

The Carrington Boats Ltd (CBL) team in Hythe builds some of the finest composite yachts for the world’s most challenging races.

Carrington, who went to Lymington Junior School and Priestlands, said: “Being responsible for building a boat to hopefully win Britain its first America’s Cup gives me a feeling of both excitement and anxiety, as these boats are staggeringly light yet have to carry enormous loads.

“Any America’s Cup campaign is a huge undertaking, and the boat is just one piece of the cake. Team Ineos UK are a fantastic team to work with, of course, me and the whole team here at CBL are immensely proud to have played a part and are grateful for the opportunity.

Jason Carrington and his family
Jason Carrington and his family

“We very much feel like part of the team and are very conscious of all the history around the America’s Cup; it is very exciting to be involved.”

Carrington grew up in Lymington before becoming the first apprentice at the famous Green Marine, known as one of the world’s first carbon raceboat builders. The family business, established in Lymington in 1982, was relocated to Hythe in 2010 before the company went into liquidation in 2017.

After Green Marine’s closure, Carrington opened Carrington Boats Ltd (CBL) with Lawrie Smith and Phil Hutchinson, who also have close links locally.

Accomplished sailor Carrington has competed in four editions of the Whitbread and Volvo Ocean Race between 1993 and 2006.

Boatbuilding and being on the water is in Carrington’s blood. His father owned Lymington boatyard Bridge Boat and Crane, and his mother owned The Water Rat, which ferried passengers on Lymington River.

Britannia is helmed by Sir Ben, a four-time Olympic gold medallist and America’s Cup winner who was made the first-ever freeman of Lymington and Pennington after the London 2012 Olympics. He is joined on board by fellow Olympic gold medallist Giles Scott and Lymington’s Richard Mason.

Britannia made its inauspicious competitive racing debut at the World Series in December, suffering from mechanical issues before retiring from the second race. However, those issues appear to be firmly behind the team.

Britannia touching down on the water for the first time (photo: Ineos Team UK)
Britannia touching down on the water for the first time (photo: Ineos Team UK)

Carrington added: “It is important to point out that all teams will have good days and bad days, it is impossible to put into words how challenging, and complicated these boats are to build, commission and maintain, small changes or updates can make a big difference.

“The America’s Cup is very much a development race, and you simply can’t stand still. It was brilliant to see the team go well, but I am very conscious that there will be ups and downs along the way, you have to take the rough with the smooth and make sure we enjoy the smooth.”

The hugely challenging task of building such a complex vessel was made all the more complicated due to the recent pandemic. Although CBL did not have to close it doors, it did so to keep staff safe. This meant the team lost two weeks of construction time.

“When the first lockdown came in March, we had a team of 50 people working around the clock, and we were up against an extremely tight schedule with a delivery date we simply had to achieve,” said Carrington.

“We came back after two weeks with Covid safety measures in place. The team deserves huge credit for managing to claw back the time and deliver the boat on the original delivery date, as each boat takes around 50,000 hours to complete the composite structure with a build time of seven months.”

CBL has a core team of 20, but that can grow to as many as 60 during its busiest times. The majority of the workforce comes from Lymington, New Milton and the surrounding area.

Ineos Team UK is backed by New Forest billionaire, Ineos founder and chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who said at Britannia’s christening: “The America’s Cup is a magnificent competition with an extraordinary history. I believe that for one of the first times in British history, we are going to arrive at the start line with a truly competitive boat.

“As the song goes, “Britannia rules the waves”, and we are all extremely hopeful that the team will finish by ruling the waves in Auckland and bringing the cup back home for the first time in its history.”

The Prada Cup semi-final, between Luna Rossa and New York Yacht Club’s American Magic – which was seriously damaged during racing earlier this month – will take place over seven rounds from 29th January to 2nd February. After racing early this morning (Friday, UK time), Luna Rossa is 2-0 up.

The winner will then take on Ineos Team UK in the best-of-13 final from 13th to 22nd February.

The victor will face off against Emirates Team New Zealand, again in a best-of-13 series, 6th to 15th March.

The America’s Cup was first awarded in 1851 by the Royal Yacht Squadron for a race around the Isle of Wight. Then called the RYS £100 Cup, it was won by the schooner America, after which the trophy was subsequently named

It was held by the New York Yacht Club from 1857 until 1983 when it was beaten by Australia’s Royal Perth Yacht Club. Clubs from New Zealand, Switzerland and the US have won it since.

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