The Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) team is hoping to win Great Britain’s first ever America’s Cup title in 2017 with possibly the world’s most sustainable sailing operation ever. The team’s sustainability efforts feature a good dose of recycled carbon fiber.
Susie Tomson, the team’s sustainability director, explained in a Q&A with GreenBiz that the team uses a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to measure the efficiency of its use of resources in the building of its race boats. She says the use of LCA in race boat manufacturing “is really a first in the sailing world” and that recycled carbon fiber is a big part of the team’s sustainability goals.
“[The Life Cycle Assessment] helped us to figure out how we can use recycled carbon fiber in the molds from which the race boat is made,” Tomson explained. “The recycled [carbon fiber] is much less carbon-intense than virgin carbon fiber. For our two docking rigid inflatable support boats (RIBS), LCA showed that, by using recycled PET [polyethylene terephthalate] plastic, natural flax fibers in the floor and a bio-based resin, we could save both on carbon and on cost.”
The use and promotion of recycled carbon fiber has been a part of the team’s work since its inception. Back in February 2015, Ben Ainslie Racing was awarded the Olympic-inspired international standard, ISO 20121, which provided a framework for sustainable operations throughout the team’s activities. In April 2015, Ben Ainslie Racing reported it supported a student’s work at Imperial College London, who wrote a thesis investigating the end-of-life options for carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP), with an emphasis on recommendations for materials sustainability in competitive sailing. In December 2015, Ben Ainslie Racing presented some of its carbon fiber sustainability work, research and ideas to many of the sailing world’s top sailors, marine designers and engineers at the World Yacht Racing Forum (WYRF) in Geneva.