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Meet Ana Paterson. A recent recruit, Ana has joined INEOS Britannia for the team’s 37th America’s Cup campaign as a Graduate Engineer after studying Marine Engineering at Newcastle University. Ana’s passion for sailing, coupled with her interest and ability to excel in engineering, makes her the perfect match for the INEOS Britannia design team graduate role.
Growing up in Wetherby, just outside of Leeds in Yorkshire, one of Ana’s first memories was sailing an Enterprise with her father. “ I grew up sailing at Ripon and Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club, sailing with my dad from the age of two years old, I moved into an RS Tera Sport at around eight years old & loved sailing ever since.”
While at school, Ana excelled at maths, physics and STEM subjects. It was at University, however, that Ana found her calling “when I was looking at which subject do at University, I found marine engineering and that was when I first realized that I could combine my passion for sailing and my skill of engineering into a career.” Ana attended Newcastle University where she received a MEng in marine technology with hons in Naval Architecture. Despite the heavy course load at University, Ana continued her sailing, and took part in various team racing including gaining experience on bigger keel boats. The next step, however, was to find her dream job!
“The first America's Cup I can remember was the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco. It was incredible to see Ben (Ainslie) race with Oracle Team USA and win eight races in a row, to win the America's Cup in one of sports greatest comebacks. I hoped then that one day I would be involved in an America’s Cup Team, but it was just a dream.”
Fast forward nine years and Ana is now a Graduate Engineer for INEOS Britannia and challenging for the America’s Cup. Since starting university Ana had been on the lookout for a job that combines high performance sport with engineering and when she saw the role at INEOS Britannia advertised she knew right away it was perfect for her; “ it was my dream job description”, Ana said. “I applied hoping I would get it, but when I got the call for an interview it was a special moment, I couldn’t quite believe it.”
Ana now works in the INEOS Britannia design team, with the opportunity to work across a lot of different projects. Her first project was working on the simulator cockpit mockup, tasked to make an IKEA style flatpack version that could be slotted together and tested for suitability and optimization.
“It was certainly a test of my CAD skills and really helped me get up to speed with the software”, Ana explained. “It was so rewarding seeing something I designed on the computer in real life and helping the sailors in their ergonomic checks; seeing what seating position they wanted, where they wanted their controls to be and their line of sight of different parts of the boat. It was very cool to get involved with a project that the sailors are directly involved with as well.”
As part of the graduate programme, Ana received CAD training when she first joined, learning how to use the software and system. However, she was also given a lot of trust and responsibility to set out on her own projects. “ Everyone is here for help and guidance if you have any questions, and is very supportive of the work we are doing.” Since Ana’s success on her first project, she has moved on to working on the steering system integration from the team’s test boat into the simulator. Alongside that project she works with the reliability team to develop the weight tracker for the race boat, to ensure INEOS Britannia are compliant with the AC37 weight rules.
INEOS Britannia and Mercedes-AMG F1 Team are two high tech sports teams combining together for this America’s Cup Campaign, creating a unique environment in which Ana thrives, “being around people who are so passionate and committed about what they do really drives you on, it’s a very inspiring workplace.”
As a female in engineering, Ana has always been in the minority. “I think there were about 70 students on my university course, where eight of us were female.” For Ana, however, this has never been as a barrier. “Just go for it. There's nothing stopping you apart from yourself. If you keep working hard and believe in yourself, you can get there.” She credits this strong mindset to her early sailing career as a child, adding:
“Growing up sailing, there were proportionally less girls during competitions. I remember when I found out there was a prize for first female. I thought, ‘I don't want to be first female, I want to be first’. It doesn't matter to me whether I'm competing against boys or girls, I want to win. Sailing helped me in that mindset that it doesn't matter who you are, you're all in the same boat [pun intended].”
When asked what she is most looking forward to this America’s Cup campaign, Ana’s response is swift. Having only ever seen an America’s Cup race boat on TV, she can’t wait to see the team’s boat out on the water, as well as potentially having the opportunity to be a part of history.
“Britain has never won the America’s Cup and it’s a special thing to be a part of a team where everyone is working and striving to achieve something that has never been done before. It would be an incredible thing to achieve, and an honour to be a part of that team.”