America’s Cup: Back on home waters

Published on June 5th, 2020

Five-time Olympic medalist Ben Ainslie is now in his sixth America’s Cup campaign, and the 43 year old is eager to win the trophy for Great Britain. As Team Principal & Skipper of INEOS Team UK, Ainslie offers an update from the homeland:


The past few months have been a difficult time for the team, as it has been for everyone around the world. Trying to manage the risks and dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic whilst having to deal with the issues around the America’s Cup team has been a challenge.

But on June 1, after over three months on land, we have been delighted to be able to get back to business and back out on the water. In the ongoing situation, however, it’s very important that we minimize the risk to our team and the community wherever we can, and that is why we have put together a new strategy we call Zero COVID days.

The strategy covers everything from how we behave in our home lives through to how we operate in our base and in our community. Hygiene is a big focus, for example, and we have given all team members INEOS hand sanitizers and Henri-Lloyd face coverings.

Alongside that are our team’s social distancing policies which we can now monitor closely through social distancing devices we are using through a new partnership with a company called Mafic.

These Mafic devices are wearables that can be attached to your arm or our Spinlock PFD (personal flotation device) that help us identify any hotspots where people are getting close to the two-metre social distancing barrier and ultimately help us make sure we are as safe as we can be in our working practices.

The policies continue when we are out on the water too. The sailors use the same PPE and we have placed an e-grinder on the boat. That is effectively a large battery pack which reduces the requirement of the number of crew on the boat. That enables us space out as much as possible whilst still being able to fully operate and sail the boat.

As our challenge for the America’s Cup continues our focuses are now threefold.

Firstly, we are making sure we keep the build of our America’s Cup race boat, Britannia II, on track. Carringtons, our boat builders in Hythe (Hampshire), have done a fantastic job and we are on track with that which is great news.

Secondly, we have to make sure we keep our first race boat Britannia I operational on the water in Portsmouth. There are a lot of development items that are coming through that will eventually get onto our second boat.

Then, finally, it’s all about getting to New Zealand. That is proving to be something we can’t control, however, we are doing absolutely everything we can to work with the New Zealand authorities to go through the correct processes. New Zealand have done an amazing job in terms of how they have responded to the crisis and hopefully we can find a workable process in order to enter the country.

It’s been a big achievement for us as a team to get back on the water sailing. It’s been an incredibly difficult time for everyone, be that in our America’s Cup world or for everyone around the world, so it has put a big smile on a lot of people’s faces to get back out there doing what we are supposed to be doing and pushing the team forward towards the America’s Cup in 2021.


36th America’s Cup
In addition to Challenges from Italy, USA, and Great Britain that were accepted during the initial entry period (January 1 to June 30, 2018), eight additional Notices of Challenge were received by the late entry deadline on November 30, 2018. Of those eight submittals, entries from Malta, USA, and the Netherlands were also accepted. Here’s the list:

Defender:
• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

Challengers:
• Luna Rossa (ITA) – Challenger of Record
• American Magic (USA)
• INEOS Team UK (GBR)
• Malta Altus Challenge (MLT) – WITHDRAW
• Stars + Stripes Team USA (USA)
• DutchSail (NED) – WITHDRAW

Of the three late entries, only Stars+Stripes USA remains committed, but they still must complete the entry fee payment process before they will be eligible to race. They have allegedly made their initial payment but as a late entry challenger under the Protocol, they also have a liability to pay a US$1million late entry fee due in installments by October 1, 2019. However, it is not yet confirmed if they have paid the fee, nor is there any knowledge of a boat being actively built or sailing team training.

Key America’s Cup dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
✔ March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
✔ June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
✔ August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
✔ August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
✔ November 30, 2018: Late entries deadline
✔ March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ 2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series events (CANCELLED)
✔ October 1, 2019: US$1million late entry fee deadline (NOT KNOWN)
✔ February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ April 23-26, 2020: First (1/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Cagliari, Sardinia (CANCELLED)
✔ June 4-7, 2020: Second (2/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Portsmouth, England (CANCELLED)
December 17-20, 2020: Third (3/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Auckland, New Zealand
January 15-February 22, 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 6-15, 2021: The America’s Cup Match

AC75 launch dates:
September 6 – Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Boat 1
September 10 – American Magic (USA), Boat 1; actual launch date earlier but not released
October 2 – Luna Rossa (ITA), Boat 1
October 4 – INEOS Team UK (GBR), Boat 1

Details: www.americascup.com

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