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America's Cup- Jobson goes one on one with Ainslie (Part 3)

by ISAF Media on 23 Jan 2014
Oracle Team USA tactician Ben Ainslie Carlo Borlenghi/Luna Rossa© http://www.lunarossachallenge.com
After having sat down with Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill, ISAF Vice-President met with Ben Ainslie (GBR) shortly afterwards. Ainslie was drafted in to replace John Kostecki mid-way through the 34th America's Cup on-board Oracle Team USA and played a key part in one of the finest sporting comebacks of all time.

ISAF-Vice President Gary Jobson sat down with Ainslie at the end of 2013 to find out a little bit more about the British sailor in Part 3 of 3...Miss Part 1 or Part 2?

The three part series will be published on the ISAF website, www.sailing.org.

Gary Jobson

'I think one of the greatest things that all of us respect in sports is when you overcome adversity or make a comeback. You might not know this but I was on the water in 1996 at the Olympic Games in Savannah, and I was on the water in Sydney. And what happened in Savannah, I think you were 19 years old and this brilliant sailor from Brazil, Robert Scheidt, and you and he had to beat you in the final race and you had the match race of all time. And he got the Gold and you got the Silver. And then four years later here you are the two of you at the top of the fleet in the Lasers and you had almost the exact same scenario at the windward mark and luffing each other, but you came out on top. You've been able to do that and let me assure you there were a lot of Finn sailors including the Danish guy trying very hard to keep you from winning that medal but you pulled through. Very impressive. (Applause) There's a question that has been gnawing at me for about a month now, who are you going to sail for in the next America's Cup?'

Ainslie

'That's an easy question. I thought you were going to ask me something difficult. Well you know there is a lot going on at the moment, Gary, as you know in the America's Cup. It's an interesting period. And, of course, we need to find out what happens with the next event with what Larry Ellison, with Russell Coutts, hopefully, what they decide they want to do with the America's Cup. I think we all hope it will be back here in San Francisco.'


Jobson

'I think it should be and it will be in my view.'

Ainslie

'What an awesome venue and great hosts and all the rest of it. It's no secret that we would like to have a British team involved with the Cup. Having said that, as we all know it's a big boy's game. You can't go into it without the right level of funds. You know this. You've won the America's Cup. You've got to have the team with the where with all to win it otherwise there's no point, you're wasting everyone's time. Within the next couple of weeks we've got to decide if we can get that together. So things are moving quickly and hopefully that can be the case.'

Jobson

'I know how important you are to your country, England, and what that means and England really has unbelievable sailors and Olympians and Shirley Robertson. The list goes on and on. Ben I think you should sail for Great Britain and come challenge here. I think you should.'

Ainslie

'We'll try.'

Jobson

'Of course we're the enemies but anyway I think it would be exciting. The British have had such a long unsuccessful history in the America's Cup that you could be the guy to turn this around.'

Ainslie

'That's right. We started the event in 1851. Back then it was called the 100 Guinea Cup and you Americans came over in your little tin pot boat called America, won the Cup, sailed off, called the Cup America's Cup and we haven't seen it since so it's probably about time we changed that.'

Jobson

'You know Ben I'm kind of wondering how people of the past would consider catamarans being used in the America's Cup, which, let's face it, was a little bit controversial although, boy was it exciting. Thank you for providing such wonderful TV. But here's a little story. So there's a 20 year old guy in 1820 named John Cox Stephens. And John Cox Stevens built himself a catamaran. The name of the boat was Double Trouble, two hulls, double trouble. He was a catamaran aficionado, 1820, and 24 years later at the age 44, he founded the New York Yacht Club and he was the head of the syndicate that built that boat, America, to go to England. So I have a gut feeling that he is up there looking down endorsing the use of multihulls in the America's Cup. I also did an interview with a guy name Thomas David Blackaller Jr., one of the greatest San Francisco sailors of all time, and Tom told me, I asked him in this interview on ESPN, 'Tom if you were the czar of the America's Cup what it would look like?' And he said, 'if I was czar of the America's Cup it would be in San Francisco Bay in catamarans.' And what an unbelievable show we had in San Francisco Bay in catamarans.'

Ainslie

'He's got a bit of foresight there.'


Jobson

'Is it scary coming into the leeward mark at 45 knots?'

Ainslie

'It is a little bit dodgy at times, yes. Funny thing was, obviously We had a lot of help, we had a lot of software and I had a tablet in the lifejacket which I had to help with the Navigation. As you all know, everyone round the world got into the sailing. I was getting messages from friends at home going, 'Finally I can understand what sailing is about.' It's amazing. Also I was getting messages from friends and family at home saying, 'This is ridiculous because we're trying to get our kids to sleep and the racing is on at 10:00 or 11:00 at night and the kids won't go to bed.' I had a message from my nephew who's eight years old and he said, 'Uncle Ben this is great. The racing is really amazing, it's fantastic but I don't understand why you keep opening your lifejacket and you're looking for sweets and I can tell you there aren't any sweets there.' I said they're not sweets. He said, okay, good, good, good.'

Jobson

'I happen to have learned that both Jimmy Spithill and John Kostecki early on during practice both fell overboard. Did you ever fall overboard?'

Ainslie

'I very nearly fell overboard, yes, in training, when I was steering the boat. The forces on the boat are amazing. If you are jibing and turning up downwind around the leeward mark, the forces are just unbelievable. We had designers who went out on the boat and they hadn't been out on the boat much before. And if they're in the wrong spot when you turn up and they're not holding onto anything, they literally just go flying off the boat. So we lost quite a lot of people off the boat. And we obviously, we lost Joey Newton in between races he went for a bit of a tumble. It's easily done. Coming out of a jibe Darren Bundock was steering our boat out of the jibes I ended up with my arm around his neck. That was basically the only thing holding me on the boat. Poor old Darren he was trying to steer the boat out of the jibe and he had me basically trying to throttle him, staying on the boat. So we had some pretty scary moments but I can say they were scary because we obviously know what happened to the Artemis team and Andrew Simpson who was one of my best mates in the world. It was tempered. It was a lot of fun. The boats are amazing. They're really aggressive, full on boats but at the same time you have to respect what we're doing out there and trying to be safe. I think I would say everyone was devastated with what happened to Andrew but I think the sailing community, being a sailor, I was just blown away by the level of support from everyone in the sailing world and the community. Everyone that came together. The fundraiser that we had in San Francisco and all the people here tonight who made such huge efforts to help with that. It's been one of the most touching moments of my life. Racing in the America's Cup was great but I think the way the America's Cup community and the sailing world dealt with the incident was really fantastic.'

Jobson

'Very nice. Well said. Your leader, Mr. Ellison, was kind of a recluse throughout the America's Cup summer. We didn't see much of him although he did come alongside our Regardless where I was and I talked with him for 10 minutes. I had really good material at the end of that 10 minutes. And within 30 second his long-time assistant, Judy Sim sends me a text message, 'you may not use any of the content or discussion of Larry Ellison in your TV broadcast.' However, when Larry Ellison showed up the press conference after winning, he was gracious, he was funny, he was respectful, and I was thinking where was he all this time? We should have gotten to know him. So tell us a little bit about Larry Ellison from your perspective now that you've gotten to know him.'

Ainslie

'I think that's right. The times I've met Larry Ellison he's been exactly how you described him. He's very charming, very approachable, very knowledgeable about sailing. I just think he's clearly a very busy man. We saw him as a team maybe three or four times during the whole 12 months that I was with the team. He was very rarely around. I know he kept in regular contact with Russell Coutts. He was clearly up to date with what was going on with the team and certainly during the event he was out there every day watching the team, supporting the team. He was on the phone to Russell a lot during the races giving advice. Poor Russell, yes Larry. Yes, Larry. He knows what is going on. Certainly as we got to the end of the event and it went on much further than any of us thought it would go, he gave us his whole business week, they had the Oracle Open World which must be one of the biggest weeks in Larry's year workwise and he gave it all up to support the team. So it was fantastic. Certainly this whole vision of what we've seen with the America's Cup, yes there's been a lot of criticism, yes none of us really knew where this would end up and we were fortunate the event ended up being the success that it was. But we shouldn't forget that it was really Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts' vision to make it happen. I'm almost out of contact with Oracle so I don't need to brown nose anymore. That's honestly my opinion.'


Jobson

'When you're a commentator on TV, you can't imagine the number of e-mails that come. Some people tell you you're great and other people tell you you're terrible and it just becomes a blur and you try and do the best you can when you are out there. It was great fun. Do you know what you have in common with John Kostecki, Paul Cayard, Russell Coutts, my partner Kenny Read who did a nice job in his first television exposure, do you know what you all have in common?'

Ainslie

'I don't.'

Jobson

'You've all been gracious speakers at Leukemia Cups. Russell spoke here a few years ago. Did a great job. He did one for us in St. Louis a few years back and he's done one in Newport, Rhode Island. So very appreciative, Ben, to have you on our stage and supporting the Leukemia Cup and you can see how passionate people are. You might not know this but I got involved 21 years ago. Volunteer. Didn't know much about blood cancer. Didn't know the difference between Lymphoma and Leukemia. And quite ironic that I ended up with one of these diseases. And unlike Carl Van Duyne who passed away from non-hodgkins lymphoma, all the treatments and all this research I became the recipient. So you never know how things are going to go in life but sometimes when you help other people out, in the end you're the one that is helped out the most. That's one of the things that I learned.'

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