Olympic success

Optimised boat building

The challenge

ACM&C Director Alex Newton was asked to support British Olympic efforts by constructing a groundbreaking boat for sailors Iain Percy and Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson. Continuous improvement and daily fine-tuning of the boat were key to a significant sporting success.

The solution

Alex led the construction of a superb craft within 13 days and gave on-going build and optimisation support ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Iain and Andrew went on to win Gold in their state-of-the-art keelboat.

The full story

At A C Marine & Composites we take great pleasure in the role we played in the Gold medal success of sailors Iain Percy and Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson.

Iain and Andrew were preparing for the Beijing Olympics when they first met ACM&C Director Alex Newton. Alex’s reputation in composite boat building led to Iain and Andrew contracting Alex to build and project manage their state-of-the-art keelboat ahead of the European Championships.

The craft itself was cutting-edge in design and construction technique. One of the first of its type, it was made from the latest S-glass pre-preg materials to deliver a stiffer and faster hull.

As such, a fine and adaptive hand was needed to assemble all components. A demanding deadline allowed only 13 days for construction – including transportation between Germany and Croatia.

Fortunately, a combination of coffee, enthusiasm and sheer determination saw Alex complete the construction, refining and painting required. His work and Iain and Andrew’s 2nd place at the European Championships led to an invite to China as part of the Olympic team.


In Asia daily testing at sea was followed by early mornings and long nights fine-tuning the boat. Everything from the shape of the hull to the keel and rudder profiles was developed for any small advantages. Deck hardware positions were also adapted to suit the personal preferences of the two-man crew.

As race day approached the tiniest of details became paramount. Alex worked tirelessly on weight distribution and other customisations. Minor adjustments led to improvements in speed and agility.

Eventually the pair triumphed, bringing home Britain’s fourth sailing Gold medal of the XXIXth Olympiad.

Alex: “It was an absolute honour to work with Iain and Andrew, and to see their determination, dedication and focus first hand.

Olympic success is often about maximising fine margins, and we analysed everything we could in the hope of providing marginal gains. This included changing the deck shape, adjusting weight transfer and customising control positions.

We were making changes, testing them on the water and then adjusting them in the workshop, often in the space of 24 hours. It was exhilarating but exhausting and, with 100-hour weeks, a real test of character as well as my skills.

Following Beijing Alex and ACM&C was invited back for the 2012 Olympics, were silver medals were realised.

Alex: “Ultimately Iain and Andrew’s success was down to their skills, experience and sheer desire to make themselves Olympic champions. I just tried to provide the best possible platform I could for them to perform at their peak.

Personally, this project was also a great learning curve. To see the drive, focus and determination it takes to be an Olympic champion was very rewarding. I continue to inject some of the insights I gathered from that experience into ACM&C workshop environment today.

For more information on this project, email info@acmarineandcomposites.com

Gold medals

ACM&C: helping Olympians perform at their peak


Demanding environments require strong solutions. ACM&C has the skills to help you succeed

Lasting rewards

Our Olympic experience continues to drive our team ethos today

Project statistics

Olympic campaigns

Medals and counting

An Olympic success story

The challenge

Swift turnaround assembly for the European Championships, followed by boat building, design and manufacture

What was delivered?

Initial boat construction in a remote location in 12 days, tooling, hull and desk assembly, cross-continent transportation and delivery, 24-hour turnarounds for performance improvements, weight distribution analysis, modifications and customisation on deck shape, hull and keel and rudder profiles

The result

A place in the history books for Iain and Andrew and the satisfaction of a job well done for ACM&C

"Alex has an attention to detail that is second to none, and his experience with composite manufacturing is world class. I would have no hesitation in recommending A C Marine & Composites for composite projects of any scale.”

Iain Percy, triple Olympic medallist