America’s Cup: Can a knight and a duchess rule the waves?

Published on June 26th, 2014

by Shirley Robertson, 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist
The America’s Cup has existed since 1851 and not once has Britain won it in the intervening years. But is that about to change?

The British challenger for the event’s next running in 2017 is certainly the strongest, the one that has all the right ingredients for success.

For one it has royal approval from Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. She’s probably the most famous person on the planet right now, certainly the most photographed, and to have her present for the official Cup challenge launch of Ben Ainslie Racing was an unbelievable coup.

But her role doesn’t stop there. She’s a keen sailor herself and, rather than just being a face of the team, she wants to have a hands-on role as well.

Then there’s the financial aspect. OK, the team has only raised 40% of the capital required but, unlike 2013 winners Team Oracle, which has effectively relied solely on America’s third richest man in Larry Ellison [whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at $52.3 billion], this has the backing of the six of Britain’s richest men.

But arguably the new team’s biggest strength is the Ben Ainslie factor. The David Beckham of sailing, people back him because of his proven track record. The knight of the realm racked up four Olympic gold medals during a glittering career.

I’ve known Ben for a long time. It was probably 20 years ago that I first met him and I remember a very shy, quiet kid.

But, even back then, he had this unwavering confidence that has never been knocked out of him.

Whatever the predicament, you do believe that with him anything can happen. Take those Olympic triumphs, particularly the last one when he came back from the brink to top the podium at London 2012.

It was the same in the America’s Cup. He would never say so, but I know that a lot of people hold him responsible for Oracle’s gargantuan comeback against Emirates Team New Zealand.

He is an amazing sailor. He works harder than anyone else, he focuses harder than anyone else and in Olympic sailing that’s very clear to see. It’s harder to measure in the America’s Cup.

It is because of him that rich men are digging into their pockets to back him in this bid.

He’s not a natural salesman by any stretch of the imagination but he finds himself as the CEO of a vast £100 million ($170 million) operation of which £60m still needs to be raised. He’s in charge of a lot of money and a lot of people.

It’s a big step up. Were he to pull it off and win the America’s Cup, it would top anything else he has achieved in the past. – CNN, read on

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