Ainslie targets cup glory
Four-time Olympic champion Sir Ben Ainslie is confident his £80m America's Cup team can follow the example of Team Sky's success at the Tour de France by bringing sailing's oldest trophy back to British shores.
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Ainslie, 37, was part of Oracle Team USA which secured a dramatic 9-8 win over Team New Zealand in San Francisco last Autumn, and is determined to repeat that success with a home-grown team come 2017.
Ben Ainslie Racing has been backed by the likes of co-founder of Carphone Warehouse Sir Charles Dunstone, and deputy chairman of the London Organising Committee of the 2012 Olympic Games Sir Keith Mills while experienced New Zealand America's cup campaigner Jono McBeth will take on the role of sailing team manager.
The British team is set to be based in Portsmouth under the flag of Yacht Squadron Racing, a club affiliated to the Royal Yacht Squadron.
There will be a three-year racing programme ahead of 2017, with some six America's Cup World Series events between nations hoping to qualify for the showpiece match-off against the holders.
"Winning that event in San Francisco with a good group of guys was way more powerful than anything I had done as an individual, to share that experience, but standing there on the podium lifting the America's Cup, it did cross my mind that it would be much more fulfilling with a British team, and so that is the goal," Ainslie said during Tuesday's launch at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, which was attended by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.
"It is never easy, but it is about bringing together the right people who have built successful corporations, designed successful America's Cup boats, sailed on winning boats, brought the Olympics to Britain - and we have those people.
"I know what it is like to be successful. All of us are here to win the America's Cup and we will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.
"I learned a great deal aboard Oracle in San Francisco and I would not be challenging if I did not believe we have a real chance of winning this time.
"For me, it is probably not the easy option, but it is the right option.
"It is about righting a wrong and bringing the cup back to British waters for the first time ever.
"Our budget is around £80million, which is realistic to try to win, we don't just want to take part.
"We need to bring together the right talent in terms of designers, we have a fantastic core team and will be building the team out from here.
There have been reports Red Bull designer Adrian Newey could come on board with BAR, whom Ainslie said would be a "tremendous asset."
The British Olympian added: "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 America's Cup was first contested off the Isle of the Wight back in 1851 and after the inaugural trophy was lost to the United States' boat, it has never been won back by a British yacht club.
Ainslie said: "This has been a childhood ambition since I was growing up down in Cornwall, watching the British team, backed by Peter de Savary, racing in the old 12 metres.
"Something just bit me and I had this burning desire and ambition to ultimately be part of a winning British America's Cup team.
"It was a fantastic experience with Team Oracle last time, we have a lot of respect for them, also for Team New Zealand and all the other competitors, but ultimately we want to win this for Britain."
BAR already have in place some 40 per cent of the funding needed and are confident of bringing the remainder on board over the coming months.
Dunstone said: "The British public have become captivated by the America's Cup, we have got the world's greatest sailor and a very exciting format - if this is ever going to happen, it is going to happen now."