Moving Parts | Ollie Pendleton

Moving Parts is an INEOS TEAM UK series looking at the invaluable work of different members from across the team. This time we are looking at a member of the design team, Oliver ‘Ollie’ Pendleton..

Sailing is in Oliver ‘Ollie’ Pendleton’s blood. Ollie, a member of the INEOS TEAM UK design team and a local Portsmouth lad who enjoys watching Portsmouth FC at Fratton park, sailed on his first cross-Channel voyage to the north of France with his parents and grandparents at the age of just six weeks old. Since then he has spent more time on the water than he can remember.

“Being a south coast family, my mum and dad always had a boat and we used to spend all of our summer holidays sailing around the south coast and northern France. After college I took a gap and did a Transatlantic crossing to the Caribbean, my one-year gap year slowly turned into a six years gap year. I did loads of sailing and travelling in the Med, the Caribbean and down to Australia.”

Ollie was not just sailing for fun though. He was a keen and competitive racer and like it is for every competitive sailor, being part of the America’s Cup, the pinnacle of yacht racing, was always the dream.

After returning from his travels around the world, Ollie put his qualification in yacht design from Southampton Institute to use and began working in various sectors across the marine industry ranging from yacht design companies through to designing powerboats and even a stint in product design. The America’s Cup was always in the back of Ollie’s mind, however, and when the opportunity came, he made sure to grasp it.

“When INEOS TEAM UK [then Land Rover BAR] built the base here in Portsmouth, literally down the road from my house, I immediately thought “right, I need to go knock on that door”. I had followed the Cup in San Francisco really closely [the 34th America’s Cup in 2013] and I knew that was something I wanted to get involved in”.

INEOS TEAM UK HQ in Portsmouth, UK
© Harry KH

His dream was realised. Ollie was brought on board and since he has been a key part of the design team for the British Challenger for the 35th and now 36th America’s Cup. Being part of the design team for the 36th America’s Cup, however, is no simple task.

Ollie’s role within the team is a wide-ranging one, working across various teams to ensure all requirements are met, yet one of his specific focusses in this campaign is the role of systems designer, being responsible for the integration of all the electrical and hydraulic systems on the boat. Ollie models all the components into the boat and ensures that when, for example, a hole needs to be punched through a bulkhead to fit a new electrical or hydraulic component, then the right people are made aware of that. When that boat is made up of over 25,000+ individual parts, as Britannia is, that is a hugely complicated task.

“These AC75 boats are so complicated and there are so many systems that it’s just quite mind-boggling to get your head around sometimes. The complexity of the whole thing is just ridiculous, comparatively the cats in the last Cup were pretty simple! There is a definite step change from the last Cup in the levels of complexity, if you just take the sheer part count, for example, it is phenomenally big which means there is just a lot more work to be done. A lot more design work to produce the components and a lot more components to integrate into the boat. It is ridiculously complicated, the sort of thing where you lie awake at night thinking about it and you wake up in the morning still thinking about it”.

AC75 Britannia in action during winter camp 2020
© Lloyd Images / Mark Lloyd

With over 25,000 parts to design, manufacture, and integrate, one relatively new piece of technology which plays an increasingly fundamental role in the design process is the 3D printer. Whilst 3D printing was also part of the team’s 35th America’s Cup campaign, where the team had a lot of externally 3D printed titanium parts for example, for this campaign INEOS TEAM UK has invested in an in-house 3D printer, which Ollie looks after as part of his role. Since its arrival in the team base two years ago it has been running nearly constantly.

“3D printing just gives us the chance to be able to iterate components really quickly, especially for HMI (Human Machine Interface) integration. Take a controller, for example. You can print a physical model and give it to a sailor and ask them for their feedback. It gives them something physical to hold in their hand instead of looking at it on a screen where it’s quite difficult to get an idea of the scale and how it’s going to feel. You get their feedback, adjust the design, print a new model and put it in their hands again. You can turn components around quickly like that, especially when you don’t have to out-source it. You can print a component in a matter of hours, although the larger high-resolution prints can take several days. We had some components that are currently on Britannia that took six days to print”.

Hydraulic system parts made by Renishaw 3D printing

Being part of a design team for an America’s Cup campaign comes with huge responsibility. Not only to make sure the boat is as fast as it can be for the sailors, but also to ensure that it is as safe as it can be. For Ollie, however, the hard work is completely worth it just to be part of a British challenger for the oldest international sporting trophy in the world, the America’s Cup.

“To be part of the first British team to win the America’s Cup and bring it back home would be amazing, it sounds cheesy, but you’d have to say that it would be one of the biggest achievements of your life, aside from marrying my wife and the birth of my three kids of course! It has been and continues to be a lot of hard work but to get that reward at the end would be truly special”.