The iconic Race around the Isle of Wight will mark the first occasion Ainslie will compete on home waters since winning his historic fourth Olympic gold in Weymouth last year. The J.P. Morgan BAR AC45 catamaran will be racing on British waters for the first time when it competes in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race on the first June.
Skipper Ben Ainslie summarizes the reason behind entering: 'It’s been a fantastic experience to race the AC45’s in the America’s Cup World Series, this was an opportunity to bring the boat to the UK to show the British public how dynamic and exciting these boat are. The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race provides the perfect opportunity to race the AC45 on an iconic course in Britain’s largest yacht Race'.
The current multihull record of three hours eight minutes and 29 seconds has stood since 2001, held by offshore legend Francis Joyon. It was very nearly beaten last year by the Multi 50 trimaran Actual, missing out by just one min, 28secs. Ben continued: 'I’ve had a few people comment about going for the Race record, in order for the team to have any chance of getting close the record we would need to have the perfect conditions. We’re aiming to get round as quickly as possible but the most important is to race safely and have great fun, whatever happens after that is an added bonus'.
It was only right and correct that the team will change to an all British crew for this one off Race and Ben is bringing in a group of experienced sailors. Mark Bulkeley (Head sail trimmer) and Matt Cornwall (Bowman) have a wealth of AC45 sailing experience competing for Team Korea and Artemis in the 2012 -13 America Cup World Series. Ben also won the World Match Racing Championship with Matt in 2010. The other two crew roles on board will be taken by Andrew Mills (Runner) and Mark Andrews (wing trimmer). Both sail as part of the British Sailing Team in the Finn Class and were training partners for Ben in the lead up to London 2012.
The first America’s Cup was raced clockwise around the Isle of Wight in 1851. A race originally called the '100 Guinea Cup' which was won by the New York yacht America which gave rise to the America’s Cup.
Ben summarises: 'The Round the Island is slightly different to the original Cup course as its counter clockwise and I will be racing against close to 1,900 other boats but never the less it will still be a fantastic opportunity to Race the new generation of Cup boats on the same waters over 160 years later'.
For J.P. Morgan this is a celebration of their commitment to the sport of sailing… Keith Evins, head of UK marketing, J.P. Morgan Asset Management commented: 'We are very proud of our long standing sponsorship of both the Round the Island Race and Ben through his Olympic campaign and recently his new America’s Cup world Series team. It will be a fantastic spectacle for spectators and competitors seeing J.P. Morgan BAR racing around the iconic landmarks of the Isle of Wight.'