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Sir Ben Ainslie hails ‘game-changing’ AWS technology in America’s Cup bid

Martyn Landi, PA Technology Correspondent
·3-min read

Sir Ben Ainslie has hailed the new computing power available to Ineos Team UK as a “game-changer” in their preparations for the America’s Cup.

The four-time Olympic gold medallist has said the team’s use of Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its new cloud computing partner has allowed the team to run more simulations than ever before in preparation for the competition.

Sir Ben is team principal and will skipper Ineos Team UK at the 36th America’s Cup in New Zealand next year.

He told the PA news agency that thanks to the new computing system, the team had been able to continue their design and development at pace despite the coronavirus outbreak and the limitations placed on team planning.

“The switch to AWS has been a bit of a game-changer for us really, just because of the access to high-performance computing, and we’re now about 20 times more powerful than we were before, just in terms of being able to get that many more simulations done in a day,” he said.

“Not being on the water means we’re more reliant on the simulations.”

The sailing team said that using AWS’s cloud computing services has enabled it to carry out up to 1,200 detailed performance simulations a day for their AC75 boat – 20 times more simulations than their previous computing set-up and at a lower cost.

The team have used these simulations to help design the hull of their boat, using simulations to determine how to create the fastest version of the craft possible.

Nick Holroyd, Ineos Team UK’s chief designer said: “They say that ‘time cannot be bought’, but by working with AWS, we are able to do just that.

“Much of the external shape of the Ineos Team UK boat will have gone through CFD simulations created using the AWS Cloud. By leveraging AWS’s virtually unlimited compute power, scalability, and resilience, we believe we’re in a strong position to design the boat that can bring the America’s Cup home to Britain.”

Andy Isherwood, vice president of Amazon Web Services EMEA, said the tech firm hoped it would be able to support the sailing team design “the most technologically advanced boat in America’s Cup history”.

Sir Ben said that given the Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions around training that came with it, the use of technology had been vital for preparations.

“In recent months, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the team has spent less time on the water than usual, meaning our simulation work with AWS has become more important than ever,” he said.

“Working with AWS for the first time this year has given us access to more and faster computational resources, which has proven crucial in developing the fastest race boat possible. It has helped the team push ahead as we continue to design and develop our race boat for the America’s Cup.”

The Olympian added he hoped the gradual return of sport would help lift the mood across the country.

“It’s obviously been a very trying and difficult time for the world. I think in our world, the thing that’s frustrating is that normally when things are tough, for whatever reason, sports are the things that can lift people’s spirits and we haven’t been able to do that in the last three or four months.”

He said the team had been building up its operations again since lockdown eased and went back on to the water around a month ago, something he described as “a big moment for us”, as training continues ahead of the competition next year.