Suffolk sailor Tim Carter to join London 2012 hero Sir Ben Ainslie on Ineos Team UK's effort to win America's Cup
A team led by the world’s most successful Olympic sailor is facing a final tense battle to win a chance to bring the world’s oldest sporting trophy home to the UK for the first time in 170 years.
And Suffolk will be giving a special cheer for one of them, Tim Carter, who grew up and learned to sail in the county.
While few of us will ever know the thrill of skimming through the ocean spray in a state-of-the-art racing yacht, you don’t have to be an expert to appreciate the excitement of the America’s Cup.
Ineos Team UK - skippered by Sir Ben Ainslie - will go head to head in their boat Britannia with Italian team Luna Rossa for the right to challenge holders New Zealand for the iconic trophy.
They must win seven of a possible 13 races to secure victory in the Prada Cup - the last hurdle before entry into the America’s Cup final.
The elite squad representing the UK and the Royal Yacht Squadron has another Olympic gold medallist, Giles Scott from Huntingdon as its tactician, responsible for getting the yacht around the course as fast as possible.
Suffolk’s Tim Carter is one of the grinders - the boat’s human powerhouses who continually turn winch handles to generate energy to manoeuvre components like the sails.
The former Woodbridge School student, whose family live in Waldringfield, said he felt incredibly fortunate to have been selected, but recognises the team faces a daunting challenge.
“To try and win the America’s Cup for Britain for the very first time would be truly special. We have a big challenge on our hands,” he said.
In an interview for the school’s website Tim, a student there from 2002 to 2010, spoke of the exhilaration of his time in New Zealand, where the team has been battling it out in heats since late last year.
“In this new class of boat (an AC75 high-performance hydrofoil monohull) we are learning so quickly how to sail them well and improving the whole time.
“But when you are up on the foils doing 50 knots, flying 2m above the water at maximum heart rate, everything is exhilarating!
“We had some big struggles during the preliminary events before Christmas, but the drive and determination from the whole team to solve those issues has been staggering.
He described the gruelling training needed to secure his role in the team as a grinder.
“The training has been pretty full on. The America’s Cup is a four-year cycle, but ultimately as a grinder you are training before you are lucky enough to be selected by a team.
“The last four years have been incredibly tense, training between 15-20 hours a week in the gym, around the grinding on the boat itself.”
Tim took up sailing when his sister Alice joined their local club at Waldringfield. ”I loved it instantly,” he said. “I competed in junior and youth competitions nationally and internationally.”
After leaving school he went to Portsmouth University - an ideal place for a sailing enthusiast.
How it works
The trophy holder is known as The Defender, and the other entries compete to be The Challenger. Normally a world series of preliminary regattas is held around the world but last year they were cancelled due to Covid. Three teams, Ineos Team UK with their yacht Britannia, and rivals Italy (Luna Rossa) and the USA (American Magic) headed for Auckland, New Zealand in December to start a gruelling series of races. But they face an uphill battle. As Auckland - where the races are being held - went into a short Covid lockdown this week, they were 4 - 0 down to their Italian rivals.
His earlier competition results secured him a place in the British Sailing Team which is the training group for major international competitions including the Olympics.
As well as his sailing role with Ineos, Tim also works on component construction.
Woodbridge School head Shona Norman said: “All of us at the school are in awe of Tim’s phenomenal success on the water. We could not be more proud.
“We wish Tim all the very best for the period ahead of him … we are supporting him every step of the way from the other side of the world.”
Read the full interview with Tim Carter here.