America's Cup: INEOS Britannia boat catches fire after capsizing during testing

  • 09/02/2023
INEOS Britannia capsized.
INEOS Britannia capsized. Photo credit: Supplied

The British challenger for the next America's Cup - INEOS Britannia - has been dealt a blow, after their test boat capsized and caught fire.

During testing at their training camp base in Mallorca on Thursday (NZ time), the T6 boat fully inverted in the water after rounding up from a downwind course to an upward wind course in 18 knots of wind.

Support crew and sailors toiled for over two hours to get the boat on its side, before fully righting it. 

Team members dispose of the batteries that caused a fire.
Team members dispose of the batteries that caused a fire. Photo credit: Supplied

But further complications were caused by the lithium batteries that power the boat's systems, which reacted to the flood of seawater by causing a fire on board. The team said the fire was swiftly tended to "with specialist training coming to the fore to mitigate the damage".

Fortunately nobody was injured in the incident. The full extent of the damage is yet to be determined, with the boat towed back to the team's base in darkness for full assessment.

"It was a tough situation for the team once T6 fully inverted," said skipper and team principal Sir Ben Ainslie. 

"Everyone came together well to resolve what could have been a much more serious issue in salvaging the yacht. 

"Thankfully everyone is safe, and we can now focus on repairing the damage as part of a pre-scheduled upgrade window at the end of this week."

INEOS Britannia have used the T6 as their primary development tool for their AC75 that will compete in Barcelona next year - one of five boats to contest Team New Zealand's crown.