16 February 2024. INEOS Britannia, Britain’s challenger for the 37th America’s Cup, has suffered damage to one of their one-design supplied AC40 training boats, Athena, after a fire onboard.

The two British one-design AC40s (Athena & Sienna) had left the dock early for a two-boat race-training day and towed to the Northeast of Barcelona City to find some good breeze. At 10:05 CET whilst sailing off Mataro,  the crew onboard Athena were required to react to a very sudden electrical fire highlighted by smoke coming out of the forward hatch.

The team chase boat was quickly alongside, fire extinguishers were deployed, but water was required to be pumped into the forward hatch to submerge the lithium battery to contain the fire, no one was injured in the incident.

After stabilising the yacht and contacting the emergency services, the team had a long tow back to the INEOS Britannia team base, with constant monitoring of the crew onboard and the lithium battery.

© Cameron Gregory

At 14:45 Athena arrived back at the team base, where the fire services were waiting and the battery was then safely removed. The response was well managed with specialist training coming to the fore.

The damage will now be assessed by the shore team, both AC40’s were not due to be on the water next week, with a planned maintenance week.

INEOS Britannia Skipper and Team Principal Sir Ben Ainslie said,  “Fire onboard any boat is always an incredibly difficult situation to manage. I want to personally thank the team for their professionalism and the emergency services for their support. We will now focus on assessing the damage to Athena alongside completing the final fitout of our AC75 Race Boat which we will see in Barcelona in April.”

The INEOS Britannia crew aboard:

Dylan Fletcher – Pilot

Ben Cornish – Pilot

Luke Parkinson – Flight Controller

Alex Hughes – Flight Controller