British Team Would Defend America’s Cup on British Waters
Published on February 25th, 2016
Ben Ainslie and his Land Rover BAR team seek to become the first British crew to win the America’s Cup in its 165 year history. And if successful, they plan to defend in British Waters.
But had Team Oracle USA, of which he was a part, not pulled off a stunning turnaround from 8-1 down to 9-8 to win the America’s Cup in San Francisco Bay in 2013, the four-time Olympic champion is adamant the situation would be markedly different.
“This was always a long shot,” says Britain’s most revered sailor. “I remember initial meetings with Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts, they wanted me to sail for Oracle and I agreed if they gave me a boat to race in the World Series with a view to building up a British team [for the next race]. But halfway through that Cup I certainly didn’t think it looked good.
“The America’s Cup appeared to be heading to New Zealand and more likely than not we wouldn’t be here discussing a British team. If Oracle hadn’t succeeded I don’t think commercially the Cup would have been that attractive for a British team in New Zealand.”
But today Ainslie finds himself with lucrative backers, Government and royal support, an ever-growing workforce and a multi-million-pound base in Portsmouth.
Yet the next 18 months are a gargantuan task with Land Rover BAR bidding to become only the second team after the Swiss-backed Alinghi in 2003 to win the cup at the first attempt.
“The goal is to win, it’s a huge goal but that’s always been the goal and there’s no hiding from the fact it’s a massive challenge,” says the skipper.
“In terms of British sport, it’s one of the last hurdles we’ve never cleared,” he says. “I can’t think of that many sporting trophies we’ve never won. It would be a huge moment for the nation in its sporting history if we were able to get that cup back home.
“But if we’re not successful we want to keep going until we are. There’s no end point. That’s why we’ve tried to create a sustainable business around the team. And if we do win, then we just have to defend it in British waters. We’re in this for the long haul.”
Source: Evening Standard