America's Cup: Sir Ben Ainslie targets success with new British team
Last Updated: 10/06/14 3:48pm
Sir Ben Ainslie is hoping to emulate the success of cycling's Team Sky as he announced the launch of a British team to race in the 35th America's Cup.
Ainslie hopes to raise around £80m in funding to take on the defending champions Oracle Team USA, who Ainslie helped to a dramatic victory last year.
The 37-year-old, the most successful sailor in Olympic history, took over as tactician for Oracle Team USA midway through the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco last year as the home team came from 8-1 down to beat Team New Zealand 9-8 in one of the most thrilling ever renewals.
Ainslie told Sky Sports News: "Can we win? Absolutely we can. We've put together a very strong group. Yes it's a huge challenge, it's one of the toughest challenges in sport. Our budget is around £80m which is a realistic budget to win.
Can we win? Absolutely we can. We've put together a very strong group. Yes it's a huge challenge, it's one of the toughest challenges in sport. Our budget is around £80m which is a realistic budget to win.
Sir Ben Ainslie
"It was great to be part of the winning team last year. It was a very powerful feeling. It's a huge challenge, there's no doubt about it, to try and claim the trophy Taking on Larry Ellison and his team is a massive challenge, no question about it."
Sir Charles Dunstone, co-founder of Carphone Warehouse, and the entrepreneur Sir Keith Mills, deputy chairman of the London Organising Committee of the 2012 Olympic Games, are among the backers Ainslie has persuaded to come on board.
"It's taken the last 10 months to get the key backers together and we are hoping to get more funding together," Ainslie added.
"The negotiations we have had have been very productive. Sir Charles and Sir Keith have been very impressive and we are very pleased to have their support."
There has been speculation that Red Bull's much-heralded F1 designer Adrian Newey could be involved in the project, and Ainslie revealed he is keen to help.
"We would love to have Adrian involved," he added. "He is very keen and a passionate sailor but he has lots of other commitments with Formula One. Should time and conditions permit, we would love to have him involved with the team.
"We have already started on that process of trying to learn from motor sport, specifically with some of the engineering challenges we have with these boats.
"We have also seen cycling become very technologically based in their performance, Team Sky for example, the approach they have.That is what we need to follow in their footsteps and need to be better in every department (than our rivals), which these teams have done."
The venue for the 35th America’s Cup has yet to be confirmed but races staged during a three-year schedule between 2015 and 2017 will count towards the final America's Cup match.
San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago and Bermuda have been shortlisted for the 2017 finale.
The Cup is named after the yacht America, which won the inaugural trophy off the Isle of Wight in 1851; it has never been won by a British entry.
"It started in British waters in 1851 and we are very keen to set matters straight. We have a great team behind us both on an off the water," Ainsile said.