The Classic Boat Museum in Cowes is undoubtedly a national treasure. It’s a jewel in our nautical treasure-trove. A repository for the weird, wonderful, eccentric and eclectic. If you ever swing by these parts, make sure you take an hour or two to visit. You won’t be disappointed by what’s on offer and your trip down nautical memory lane will jolt, surprise, delight and enlighten.
It’s an endless, thrilling experience that magnificently charts the historical journey to right where we are today and if you go with a scintilla of hindsight, it’s just so glaringly obvious that sailing would fuse full-square with engineering and modern materials and that the apex of our sport, no surprise, is to be found skimming above the water. The museum is cataloging the remarkable and it’s a vibrant, vital part of our town as well as being of huge significance historically.
And so it makes perfect sense that the Ineos Britannia Team has just provided the Classic Boat Museum with a piece that is set to be the absolute stand-out sensation to enthral school parties, college students, the curious and those like me that are fanatical to the point of obsession with the donation of their raceboat from Auckland.
Yes, Britannia II, the actual one that sensationally made the Challenger Finals and came within a hair’s width of beating Luna Rossa is now in the museum’s possession. What a wonderful donation by the Ineos team. The legacy is hugely appreciated in this town and will live long into the future, acting as inspiration for generations to come. Fantastic.
Quite how it will be displayed and where it will be displayed is a work in progress – wouldn’t it be fabulous if we could have it as a landmark attraction similar to how the monstrous New Zealand boat from the Deed of Gift Match in 1988 is displayed in Auckland but that, I guess, is for the local council and the museum to decide. Whatever, Britannia II is set to be a star attraction of Cowes and hopefully can be joined by the winning British boat after Barcelona in 2024 to complement the Cup being housed in the Royal Yacht Squadron. Just saying…
Ben Ainslie has been right behind the Classic Boat Museum having donated the test boat from his first fully-fledged, name-on-the-door campaign in Bermuda, BAR T1, and he penned some lovely words as the latest donation arrived by barge yesterday afternoon: “Showcasing the historical legacy of the America’s Cup is one of the goals of the Classic Boat Museum and we are delighted to again support them by donating BRITANNIA II, helping bring the America’s Cup story to life and leaving a legacy for the generations to come.”
Well said Ben.
And of course, as Cup watchers we look further into the story and naturally the questions start arising about what test-bed the Ineos Britannia sailing team will be using when the restrictions come off in September this year and the sailors can actually go testing and training again in the AC75s. The smart money is on a modified B1 with all the latest thinking around dual helms, cyclors and smart mechatronics but it’s nothing more than pure speculation at this stage. I’ll bet the sailors are itching to get back on the water and perhaps the team are jumping straight to AC40s to get the hours in as was opined to me recently? Who knows but for now, Britannia II is up on the hard here at the home of yachting and the people of Cowes are the great beneficiaries.
My good friend and Chairman of the Classic Boat Museum, Mark McNeil spoke for what I believe was all of us in the local community as he gratefully accepted Britannia II with the words: “It is a huge privilege for the museum to display this important yacht this summer which performed exceptionally well in the early rounds of the Prada Cup in February 2021. Britannia II joins our wide range of historical breakthrough yachting exhibits and will be a significant addition to the Boat Shed allowing the museum to showcase the history of the exciting development of foiling boats and the British America’s Cup story. I would like to thank the team at INEOS BRITANNIA for this amazing donation.” Spot on Mark.
And for those with an interest in the Cup, the museum is a gold-mine. You simply have to visit just for, if nothing more, than to see Columbia’s Sail Book, the bust of Sir T.O.M Sopwith, the scale models of Endeavour, Sceptre and others, or an original Lawsons History of the America’s Cup. That’s worth the price of admission alone but coming soon is the chance to peer into and appreciate a full-on AC75 in the flesh – the only one on display in the world today. Amazing.
Nice work from the Ineos Team and Ben Ainslie on this one. Great PR and huge gratitude from the Cowes sailing fraternity. Now we just need that ugly ewer back in its rightful place and the town will be rocking.