Ben Ainslie interview: ‘This is my best shot at winning the America’s Cup for Britain’

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Ben Ainslie on board Ineos Britannia (Harry KH/Ineos Britannia)
Ben Ainslie on board Ineos Britannia (Harry KH/Ineos Britannia)

Ben Ainslie believes Ineos Britannia has its best shot to date at winning the America’s Cup after the protocol was unveiled on Tuesday for the 37th running of the Cup.

Britain has never won sport’s oldest trophy but Ainslie will spearhead his team for a third straight edition in 2024, with the venue – potentially Cork in Ireland – set to be finalised in March.

A new women’s America’s Cup has been added for the first time with the youth series returning, while efforts have been made to massively reduce costs in a bid to entice new entries into the main America’s Cup.

Entries will be allowed just one race boat rather than the two of the last edition in New Zealand earlier this year as well as share reconnaissance and some initial design aspects, as well as cutting down crew numbers.

The terms of the 37th America’s Cup were thrashed out between Ainslie’s team as the challengers of record and the defending champions Team New Zealand.

And Ainslie told Standard Sport: “We still need to develop but this is the best chance ever for our organisation. It’s not for me to say it’s the best chance Britain has had but we will have developed in the last three cycles to get to this point.

“I’m the kind of guy that sets a target and, until I get there, I won’t give up on it. It’s not easy – we know just how hard it is going to be to win. It was always going to take multiple campaigns to get there. We can do it if we get the right strategy.”

Provisional plans have also been put forward for a documentary series to follow the America’s Cup, which Ainslie likened to Formula 1’s own Netflix series.

“Everyone’s seen the success of the Drive to Survive series in Formula 1 so why not Sail to Survive for the Cup?” he said. “There’s glamour, prestige, danger with these boats, there’s the sports politics with rules, quirky designers, sailors out there doing their thing. It’s a real team sport like Formula 1 is and it’s nice to showcase that to people.”

 (Ineos Britannia)
(Ineos Britannia)

Ineos Britannia does not lack for its own F1 influence having worked with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and his team closely for the last edition of the Cup.

And the architect of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes as technical boss at the F1 team, James Allison, has taken on the same role for Ineos’ America’s Cup operation.

“We already have that relationship with Mercedes and our designers are working on site in Brackley [Mercedes F1’s headquarters,” said Ainslie. “We’re really delighted with how it’s going. There’s a huge amount we can learn from F1 but similarly they realise how hard the America’s Cup challenge is.”

There is currently a three-way battle to host the next Cup with Cork, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Auckland all vying for the role.

Of the potential hosts, which will be decided by the defending champions, Ainslie added: “For our team, Cork would be amazing – it’ll almost be like a home race, just an hour across the Irish Sea.”

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