katie prescott | BBc radio 4 | 2 december 2016
Listen to the Radio 4 Today interview here
Phil White, a technology expert at PA Consulting Group and head of Land Rover BAR’s Technical Innovation Group (TIG) is interviewed alongside Sir Ben Ainslie by Katie Prescott from Radio 4’s Today Programme. The interview looks at the role of technology in Ben’s challenge of bringing the America’s Cup home.
In the interview Ben explains that the America’s Cup is the oldest sailing competition in the world and is being pursued by Land Rover BAR (Ben Ainslie Racing), with the support of the TIG. The TIG is a collection of the top brains in a range of sectors such as technology, defence and telecoms. Ben goes onto explain how tapping into some of Britain’s expert companies will help give the team a winning edge.
Katie looks over onto the factory workshop where three of the sailing boats are being worked on. There she talks to Phil about his role at PA and Land Rover BAR. Phil explains that he is an engineer by background and works at PA – a technology and management consultancy – at PA’s technology centre in Cambridge. He explains that he is in charge of managing the TIG which aims to bring together the best of British technology to support the sailing team in bringing the Americas Cup home.
Phil talks about one of the boats that the TIG has helped to develop. He explains the goal of the boat is to move as fast as possible on top of the water and not through it. He talks about some of the technologies applied to the boat to help it travel at 40-50 miles per hour.
Phil goes on to say that in some ways, sailing is similar to Formula One: “There are areas of boat we can change and some areas that we can’t. It’s a matter of understanding the rules and then making the modifications as best we can within what’s permitted.”
George Sykes, a technology expert at PA and project manager for the TIG talks about one of the technologies that has been developed – bone conducting speaker technology. He says: “It’s the same technology that’s used in hearing aids. It allows someone who don’t have normal hearing capabilities to get the same sound effect inside their head by transmitting the sound waves through the skull instead of through the air. We’re looking to use this technology in this context to help the sailors communicate in the boat.”
Phil goes on to talk about aerodynamics, grinders and electronics and says that bringing together the technologies from every member of the TIG, to help build the fastest platform for the sailing team, is the key point in achieving success.