Sir Ben Ainslie’s British challenge for the next America’s Cup is taking shape, but the four-times Olympic gold medallist will not commit to the event unless the rules give him a chance to win.
Having become the most decorated sailor in Olympic history at the London 2012 Games, the 36-year-old last year helped Oracle Team USA recover from what was a seemingly impossible 8-1 deficit to win international sport’s oldest trophy.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Ainslie, who launched his own team, JP Morgan Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR), in January 2012, is now looking for funding to mount his own challenge for the 35th edition of the America’s Cup.
Ainslie is quietly confident about being able to drum up enough backing to challenge, but will only commit to the event when the rules and regulations, chosen by the winner, are announced in the coming months.
“Well, we’ve got a lot on at the moment trying to raise the money, the funding, for the America’s Cup and start to try to put a team together,” Ainslie, who grew up and learned to sail in Cornwall, said at the London Boat Show recently.
“It is a huge challenge but so incredibly exciting to be able to start doing that and put a credible team together.
“There is no fixed date for the protocol or the rules of the America’s Cup to come up, but we expect them to be reasonably soon.
“We hope to see some good cost-cutting measures to encourage more teams to be involved in another exciting event, possibly in San Francisco.
“If that is the case, then we will look forward to pushing forwards with the team.”
Ainslie, who hopes to have Red Bull’s Formula One design chief Adrian Newey involved, said: “When you are talking about a big budget, around about $100 million, we need to be very certain about what the parameters are, what we are up against, what the challenge is.
“We won’t commit to the Cup unless it is a realistic challenge for the challenging teams, that they can have a chance to take on the defender and win.”
It is shaping up to a busy year for Ainslie, who is not only planning an America’s Cup assault but skippering BAR in the Extreme Sailing Series. His team was announced on Wednesday as one of nine taking part in the eight-stop globe-trotting event, which starts in Singapore next month and ends in December in Sydney, Australia.
The Extreme Sailing Series will call at Cardiff between August 22 and 25 and Ainslie sees it as the closest racing you can get to the America’s Cup this year. “It is great fun, a global series of eight races in the Extreme 40 class, which is sort of a smaller version of the America’s Cup class, if you like,” Ainslie said.
“We are very excited about that and excited to get back out on the race course.
“We have a great team. We have some of my old Olympic team-mates, Paul Goodison and Pippa Wilson.”
Ainslie will also be competing again in the Round the Island race, having smashed the multihull record off the Isle of Wight last year – a special victory that came less than a month after the death of his close friend Andrew Simpson.