Sir Ben Ainslee and Kate Middleton
They haven’t done it. Ever. In the 163 years that the America’s Cup trophy has been awarded, British teams have failed to bring it home. Sir Ben Ainslie this month officially launched a bid to change history, with Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton standing by to support the four-time Olympic gold-medal winner in his quest for England.
“This is the last great historic sporting prize never won by Great Britain,” Ainslie said. “It has always been my ambition to mount a home challenge. The time is right, and I am hugely encouraged by the support we are getting, not least from the Duchess of Cambridge. 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.”
Ainslie is the world’s most successful Olympic sailor, most recently taking home gold in the London Games in 2012. He was a member of Oracle Team USA in the most recent America’s Cup, helping to overcome an 8-1 deficit and beat Team New Zealand. His newly formed challenge is called Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) and will represent Yacht Squadron Racing, which is affiliated with the Royal Yacht Squadron.
If BAR wins, the America’s Cup would return to Cowes, where it was first awarded more than a century and a half ago.
“Since losing the original race in 1851, the Squadron have made a number of unsuccessful attempts to win the Cup,” said Commodore Christopher Sharples. “The previous and most recent occasion was in 1958. Sir Ben has impressed us with his incredible track record, his total commitment, his ability to build a most impressive management team and recruit some of the world’s top sailors and designers with the relevant experience.”
Technical director and two-time America’s Cup winner Andy Claughton will lead the BAR design team. Also onboard with BAR are Americans Dirk Kramers, a six-time America’s Cup winner, and Clay Oliver, a four-time winner.
Stay tuned — AC35 is starting to get interesting.