Ben Ainslie’s British Syndicate Needs Backer

Published on October 24th, 2013

Sir Ben Ainslie’s bid to launch a British challenge for the America’s Cup is gathering momentum with the ace sailor now eyeing design and sailing talent.

Ainslie, the English sailing great whose late addition to the Oracle crew helped the Americans defend the Auld Mug against Team New Zealand, is desperate to get a local syndicate for the next regatta.

He says the next two weeks will be crucial to his cause – adding justification to Team New Zealand’s rush to protect their top talent via a $5m interim grant from the government.

“I’ve been working hard. I’m reasonably confident,” Ainslie told the BBC of realising his dream.

“There’s a lot of support for sailing in this country. The excitement from this last event, the people who would be interested in backing a team like this, if there was ever a time to do it, it’s now.”

Ainslie’s immediate goal is to get enough finance to assemble a competitive core of designers and crew for what is certain to be another contest in large catamarans.

“There were only four teams in this last event, so there’s a limited pool of sailors and designers. I think there’s a window of about two more weeks before those sailors and designers will get snapped up,” Ainslie said.

He said the bigger picture was more tricky but there was time to work on that.

“In terms of raising the funds for a team, that’s a big ask,” Ainslie said.

“There’s a commercial side to it, but you can’t build that up right away. That will take more time, and knowledge on where the next event will be and when.

“So in the meantime, we need some private investors to come in and underwrite the campaign so that we know we can get to the end and we can sign the designers and sailors.

“If we can’t do that, we won’t do it [launch the challenge]. There’s no point going into an event like this without the talent because your chances of winning are then very slim.”

Ainslie, the greatest ever Olympic sailor, was bitten by his latest America’s Cup experience where he was crucial to Oracle’s stunning comeback to beat the Kiwis.

He believed the success of the close-fought final would make it possible to assemble a British challenge. Britain staged the first America’s Cup 162 years ago but has never won it.

Britain was last involved in the challenger series in Auckland in 2003.

It appears a growing fleet of challengers are lining up on the back of the late success of San Francisco.

With Hamilton Island Yacht Club confirmed as the Challenger of Record there will be an Australian challenge for the first time since 2000.

Sweden’s Artemis Racing are determined to return after their tragic effort this year. Italy’s Luna Rossa always saw the last regatta as a learning experience for the future in multihulls and Team New Zealand, with the help of their initial government funding, are pushing on with trying to find private sponsorship to stay in the game. Full Story

QUOTE/UNQUOTE
At the recent Leukemia Cup Regatta Dinner hosted by The San Francisco Yacht Club where Sir Ben presented as the guest speaker, interviewed by the illustrious Gary Jobson, he made no bones about his desire to race for a British AC team should the opportunity arise.

“There’s a lot going on as you know – it’s an interesting period. We need to find out what happens with the next event what Russell Coutts and Larry Ellison decide they want to do. I think we’ll be happy being back here in San Francisco. It’s an awesome venue with great hosts. It’s no secret we’d like to have a British team involved in the Cup. Having said that, as we all know, it’s a big boys game. You can’t go into it without the right level of funds – you have to have the team with the wherewithal to win otherwise there’s no point. You’re wasting everyone’s time. We’re going to decide in the next couple of weeks if we can get that together so things are moving along quite quickly and hopefully that can be the case.” Read On

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