Sir Ben Ainslie: We need an America’s Cup with long-term future

Published on March 30th, 2015

by Sir Ben Ainslie, skipper, British challenger
Recent negotiations between teams in the Americas Cup have created a lot of attention but the reality is these are hugely critical and exciting times for sport’s oldest international competition and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

An impending vote by all of the teams will rule whether or not a new, more dynamic ‘AC Class’ will be implemented. It is a big call but the right one to make the Cup the sustainable event that it needs to become.

By reducing the size of the catamarans from 62ft to something nearer to the 45-footers we have all been developing over the last few months, and by standardizing certain elements of the boat, we can all make savings.

This would in turn make it more attractive to new teams, sponsors and markets. The one thing the America’s Cup has always lacked is continuity and this is what we need to create to entice new broadcasters, media and fans, fostering a long-term vision for the commercial future of the Cup.

Personally, I do not just think this is a good idea; I think it is absolutely essential for the long-term good of the Cup. Without making radical changes, the America’s Cup will never reach it’s potential commercially. Even after the amazing spectacle in San Francisco in 2013, new teams and sponsors are hugely supportive of certainty in a sustainable event.

Of course it is disappointing that a very small number of teams are arguing against the proposals but in some ways it is inevitable. In the case of Team New Zealand, their argument against change is purely focused on their desire to host part of the qualifying series in NZ, at huge expense and competitive disadvantage to all of the other teams.

The Kiwis believe that voting against a smaller boat and cost saving is their best chance of guaranteeing the NZ event and with it substantial government funding. It is therefore crucial that the majority of teams hold firm in making these changes which would continue to take the world’s oldest international sporting trophy into the modern era.

I’ve noticed a bit of criticism out there from dyed-in-the-wool America’s Cup followers but the truth is most people would not even notice the difference in size of boat. They will still be spectacular boats, they will still fly out of the water on hydrofoils at phenomenal speeds, they will still be crewed by incredible athletes.

If anything, the racing may even be better as the boats will be more manoeuvrable. Certainly they will be better suited to the Bermuda race course. The America’s Cup would remain the pinnacle of world sailing. – The Telegraph, full story.

Click here for details on the vote.

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