The Duchess of Cambridge supports the Ben Ainslie Racing team's proposed British America's Cup bid
British sailing legend Sir
Ben Ainslie today launched his bid to
win the America’s Cup, the 163-year old trophy never won by Great
The Duchess of Cambridge, a keen sailor herself, attended the
launch at the Royal Museums Greenwich
to show her support for the £80million campaign.
The four-time Olympic gold medal winner, Sir Ben, who announced his challenge with Yacht Squadron Racing, said:
‘This is the last great historic sporting prize never won by Great
Britain. It has always been my ambition to mount a home challenge.
time is right and I am hugely encouraged by the support we are getting,
not least from the Duchess of Cambridge. I
learned a great deal aboard Oracle in San Francisco and I would not be
challenging if I did not believe we have a real chance of winning this
Ainslie became the world’s most successful Olympic sailor after winning a
fourth gold medal in London 2012, and quickly turned his attention to
his long term ambition – winning the America’s Cup for Britain.
Ainslie became the first Briton to be part
of a winning America’s Cup team in 110 years with ORACLE
TEAM USA. He played a
vital role in one of the greatest comebacks sport has ever seen,
overturning an 8:1 deficit to Team New Zealand, and allowing the
USA to retain the trophy. Now Ainslie is
planning to take the trophy from the Americans in 2017, and bring the
America’s Cup back to Britain with his team, Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR).
‘Righting a wrong’
Sir Charles Dunstone, Chairman of Ben BAR’s Board said:’This campaign
is about righting a wrong. We have never won it. We have an amazing
maritime history. The Cup has to come home, we have to do that.”
The team announced that it will be representing Yacht Squadron Racing,
which is affiliated to the Royal Yacht Squadron, and it means that
BAR be successful and win the Cup for Britain
it will bring it back to Cowes and the place where it all began 163
Royal Yacht Squadron Commodore, Christopher Sharples, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be working with our member Sir Ben
Ainslie in his patriotic quest to bring the America’s Cup back to
‘Ben Ainslie Racing’
BAR has been in gestation since 2011, when Ainslie first started to look ahead to life beyond the Olympics. He spoke with
USA (OTUSA) CEO,
Russell Coutts with the sole intention of trying to buy an AC45
multihull to compete in the 2012/13 America’s Cup World Series.
had a better idea and instead offered him a job
with the Americans. Ainslie subsequently negotiated both a role with
OTUSA and his own World Series entry for BAR. It worked out well for both
OTUSA and Ainslie, who gathered crucial
experience; and as a result of circumstances, found himself substituted
onto the US boat in the tactician’s role for the 34th America’s Cup.
The spectacular 9:8 OTUSA victory provided the
perfect springboard for Ainslie to return to the UK and seek support
for a British effort.
The first meetings last October were with Sir
Charles Dunstone and Sir Keith Mills, their
commitment gave Ainslie the courage to push on to find other private
investors to build a viable British challenge.
Subsequent backing came
in the form of Chris Bake, Peter Dubens, Lord Irvine Laidlaw, Ian Taylor
and Jon Wood. Ex-head of the
BBC, Channel 4 and ITV
and a keen sailor, Lord Michael Grade was asked and agreed to take on
the role as an independent board member alongside Linklaters Chairman
and Senior Partner Robert Elliott.
Lord Grade joked at today’s press conference: ‘Our job is to get Ben angry at the right minute.’ (A nod to Ainslie’s London 2012 impressive comeback to win his fourth Olympic gold after he warned rivals they had made him angry by teaming up to protest and force him do a penalty turn in his Finn sailing dinghy.)
Ainslie said £80million investment was critical to building a successful tea, including the top designers.
Technical Director and two-time America’s Cup winner Andy Claughton (GBR) will lead the design team. Initial signings include six-time America’s Cup winners Dirk Kramers (NED/USA)
and four times winner Clay Oliver (USA). Designer and performance optimisation expert Jason Ker (GBR); Aero and Hydrodynamics specialist Rodrigo Azcueta (ARG); Hydrofoiling Catamaran
specialist (and America’s Cup winner with BMW Oracle for the 33rd America’s Cup) Benjamin Muyl (FRA) are already on board.
The Sailing Team Manager will be the highly experienced New Zealander
and three-times America’s Cup winner, Jono Macbeth who sailed with
Ainslie in both the 2007 and 2013 America’s Cups. Other signings at this
early stage include Britain’s David Carr and Nick
Hutton who both raced with Luna Rossa in the 34th America’s Cup, Andy
McLean (NZL) who was part of the Artemis Racing team in 2013 and former World Match Race Champion, Matt Cornwell (GBR).
The rest of the
management team is made up of James Stagg, who takes the role of Shore
Team Manager; Andy Hindley has joined as Chief Operating Officer, a
position he also held with the America’s Cup Race Management
organisation for the event in San Francisco; Ainslie’s long-term
Commercial Manager, Jo Grindley heads up the Commercial, Marketing,
Communications and Events teams.
Learning from Formula One racing
Ainslie revealed that Formula One designer Adrian Newey could play a key role in the development of his America’s Cup bid, if Newey can find the time to be involved around his other work commitments.
Ainslie said: ‘I’ve had a couple of really good chats with Adrian. He’s a really
lovely guy and the most successful designer in Formula One history.
keen on racing in the America’s Cup, it’s great for us. He clearly has a
lot of commitments still with Formula One and it really depends how he
can fit something in and being involved in the team.’
The British team also announced its first major partner – 11th Hour Racing Inc, a company focused on sustainable sailing.
BAR aims to showcase a sustainable business model, and rethink the way natural resources are used to deliver a winning team.
Announcing their sponsorship of BAR, Jeremy Pochman, Director of 11th Hour Racing, Inc. said: ’11th Hour Racing Incorporated promotes better practices in
competitive sailing while connecting the team with the means to make our
sport more sustainable and promote the health of our oceans. We
committed our inaugural sponsorship to Ben Ainslie Racing
because of the team’s goal to build and race sustainably for the
The team has also signed Official Partner agreements with
KPMG (Business development partner), Linklaters (Legal services),
Henri Lloyd (technical clothing), Siemens NX (software supplier)
Scorpion Ribs (support boats) and technical supply deals with
Princecroft Willis (accountancy services), Esteco SpA (engineering
software), SOS Rehydrate (medical drinks) and The Goring (hospitality partner).
Pictures: Sir Keith Mills with The Duchess of Cambridge, Sir Ben Ainslie & Sir Charles Dunstone; The Duchess of Cambridge with the Ben Ainslie Racing Team and the America’s Cup