Antonov Drafted In To Fly 75ft Boat Half Way Around The World

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How do you move a 75-foot boat halfway across the world? This is a problem that the British boat racing team INEOS recently came across. However, the solution was relatively simple, draft the help of an Antonov 124, one of the world’s largest cargo aircraft.

Antonov An124, London Stansted, INEOS TEAM UK
How do you transport a 75-foot boat halfway across the world? Photo: Lloyd Images/INEOS TEAM UK

There is always a need to ferry cargo around the world. Typically cargo is carried in the bellies of passenger aircraft or on special freight aircraft such as the Boeing 747F. However, sometimes these aren’t enough. This is where Antonov comes in with its fleet of supersized aircraft, that turn heads wherever they land.

A unique cargo

Whenever an Antonov Design Bureau aircraft is required, you instantly know that the cargo involved will be interesting. From brand new trains to military tanks, the Antonov fleet seems to have carried it all. This time the shipment took a slightly more nautical form as a 75-foot boat.

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The boat being ferried across the world by Antonov is no ordinary boat. INEOS TEAM UK has specially designed the 75ft hull for America’s Cup, sport’s oldest international trophy.  The competition will start on March 6th, 2021, and see the boats race in the New Zealand Hauraki Gulf.

Antonov An124, London Stansted, INEOS TEAM UK
The aircraft (not pictured) has made it as far as Dubai World Central so far. Photo: Dubai Airports

As such, the team needs to get its 75-foot boat to New Zealand. Here’s where the Antonov comes in. One of Antonov Design Bureau’s 124 aircraft has been drafted in for the journey. The plane, UR-82009, is being used for the trip. It is 35 years old, having been manufactured in 1986 according to data from Planespotters.net.

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The journey begins

The boat was constructed in Portsmouth. However, the local airports didn’t host its departure from the United Kingdom. Instead, it was driven approximately 130 miles by road up to Stansted Airport to the north-east of London. Upon arrival at Stansted, the hull was towed into the mouth of the AN-124 by INEOS’ 4×4 prototype.

Once secured, the aircraft departed from London Stansted at 18:28. Following roughly seven hours in the sky, the plane touched down at Dubai’s World Central Airport in the United Arab Emirates. This is the first of two stops on the journey from London to Auckland. The journey is expected to take four days in total and will cover some 11,000 miles.

Antonov An124, London Stansted, INEOS TEAM UK
A prototype 4×4 was used to haul the boat onto the aircraft. Photo: Lloyd Images/INEOS TEAM UK

Rather than traveling with the boat, some of the team that will place the finishing touches on the plane has already flown to New Zealand. They are now quarantining for 14-days in line with local government regulations. Once the boat arrives, they will complete a final fit-out before the boat’s first sail occurs in October.

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Commenting on the Mammoth task, British Olympic gold medalist Sir Ben Ainslie who leads the team, said,

“We had to give ourselves maximum design and build time in the UK, which meant the Antonov was the only transport option. It’s testament to the huge effort by the whole team to get RB2 built and delivered to New Zealand on schedule.”

Have you seen an Antonov aircraft transporting an interesting cargo? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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