Navigating the logistics maze to deliver INEOS Britannia cargo to Barcelona for the 37th America’s Cup

INEOS Britannia, the British team vying for the 37th America’s Cup, knew there would be plenty of challenges as they prepared for the prestige event being held in Barcelona between August and October this year. And while fine-tuning their race boat design and endless hours out on the waves might be the first things you think of, there’s another vital element that must be considered: getting everything there. But they found the expert help they needed for that in GAC Pindar, the team’s official logistics provider for the event.

Led by four-time Olympic sailing gold medallist, Ben Ainslie and partnered with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, the design and administration divisions of INEOS Britannia are headquartered at the Mercedes F1 campus in Brackley near Oxford in the UK. However, the competition will take place in Barcelona, Spain, so it was clear they were going to need the very best help they could find to tackle the complex new logistics arrangements for moving goods between the UK and Europe.

GAC Pindar’s credentials have been put to the test by the team since 2022, when it coordinated the transportation and set-up of the INEOS Britannia boats and equipment to Palma, Mallorca, for winter training, while a more permanent base was being constructed and fitted out in Barcelona. Once the base was ready, GAC Pindar shipped the freight over for the opening of the team’s America’s Cup HQ and, just months later, moved more equipment and supplies out from the UK for the start of sailing operations.

The marine leisure logistics expert’s principal role was to forward the freight, take care of customs formalities and act as a consultant for the move. GAC Pindar’s solid knowledge of new UK-EU customs procedures paired with an in-depth understanding of INEOS Britannia’s needs as a sports team ensured smooth sailing for what could have been an overwhelming task. Their umbrella approach to all the team’s requirements even involved establishing dedicated logistics operators for the team in both the UK and Spain.

“If you give me the instructions, the freight and the commercial invoice, then the next time you see it, it will be at the destination – that’s freight forwarding,” says Beth King, GAC Pindar’s Operations Manager.

The initial move out to Palma was the biggest challenge as it involved 20 containers, the T6 research and development boat, masts, chase boats and more.

“We shipped most of the equipment by rail in containers, starting from INEOS Britannia’s UK HQ in Brackley, then to the Port of Tilbury, where they were loaded onto a ship heading for Antwerp to connect with Europe’s efficient interconnected rail network,” adds Beth.

Big time

Much of the freight taken by road was out of gauge, beyond what a standard truck can carry. As such, it required special permits and, in some places, police escorts. Drawings of the oversized cargo were crucial in the planning stages to ensure the right trailers were used.

Image: Relocating the British America’s Cup Team - Navigating the logistics maze to deliver INEOS Britannia cargo to Barcelona for the 37th America’s Cup

To reduce the bureaucratic burden of traveling through France, where a separate permit is required for every department passed through, GAC Pindar loaded the truck carrying the INEOS Britannia 40ft test boat onto a ferry from Portsmouth to Santander in Spain.  Once there, the truck drove down to Barcelona to get another ferry to Palma.

“It sounds a lot simpler than it actually was!” jokes Beth. “There was lots to stay on top of in the route planning, and then there were local restrictions dictating when we are allowed to move the freight on the roads which – somehow – had to be married up with the team’s tight timelines. It’s an extreme case of managing expectations and to do that right, we had to plan well in advance.”

The Brexit effect

Since the UK left the European Union, much more paperwork has been added to what were previously relatively smooth and simple import and export processes.

“The extra layer of customs has curbed flexibility and added extra layers of complexity and cost,” says Beth.

Everything in a shipment for temporary import must be listed in detail in order to match the list up with returning freight when it comes back to the UK.

Carbon count

Sustainability is a key concern for sporting events across the world, and especially for INEOS Britannia, which was the first sports team to achieve ISO 20121 certification, in 2015. GAC Pindar is helping there too improving the way customers’ CO₂ freight emissions are tracked. GAC has developed its own freight Co2e tracking platform to give customers greater visibility on their own emissions.

“Everyone in the world now has to justify moving large quantities of things around the world, and they have to do so more sustainably,” said King. “Partners like INEOS Britannia who want CO₂e reporting and aim to do things in a more considerate way are changing the way we operate – and that, as far as I am concerned, is a really good thing.

“That is why it is so important to be able to measure emissions and plan sustainably. Many of the containers we moved for INEOS Britannia went by rail. The emissions are a lot lower. It might take a day or two longer than direct trucking, but it is cheaper, and trains just keep chugging along over the weekend.”

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) also introduced changes in 2023 mandating all commercial vessels report their CO₂ emissions. The dream is to offer customers low emission routings via our own system. This might not always be the quickest option, that is the only problem, but it does empower the customer to decide on the right option with all the facts in front of them, freight timelines, cost and environmental impact.

A passion for sailing

GAC Pindar is a niche business within the bigger GAC operation, and many of the team are keen sailors themselves.

“One of the things that motivates us is the sport,” says Beth. “It’s a real thrill to be involved with the America’s Cup. No two days are the same, no two shipments are the same. It challenges us all the way from courier to break bulk.”

The next big move from the UK will be the America’s Cup race boat itself (RB3). At 20.7m long, the AC75 will travel with associated equipment to Barcelona, where it will be launched for the first time. The 26.5m mast has already travelled separately, ahead of the RB3 move.

“Confidentiality is paramount; the team’s design and technology advantages have been a well-kept secret,” says Beth. “We’ll be holding a collective breath until then, together with all UK sailing fans across the country.”

Watch now – GAC Pindar delivers Athena, INEOS Britannia’s AC40 to Jeddah for the preliminary event.