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America's Cup: Ainslie claims significant progress with British team


'America’s Cup Day 8 San Francisco. Oracle Team USA tactician Ben Ainslie at the Day 8 Media Conference'    © Richard Gladwell    Click Here to view large photo

Sir Ben Ainslie has revealed that his drive to win the America's Cup with a British team for the first time in the trophy's 163-year history is 'in a good place' and that he has made significant progress towards raising the $US100m (£60.8m) required to try.

The four-times Olympic gold medallist said a final decision would be made in the spring, once the rules had been published.

L to R: BAR team members Paul Goodison, Sir Ben Ainslie and Matt Cornwell stand in front of the J.P. Morgan BAR AC45 at the London Boat Show 2014, ExCeL, London. -  onEdition ©   Click Here to view large photo
Ainslie, currently one of the feature points at the London Boat Show, announced that his JP Morgan-sponsored Ben Ainslie Racing Team would compete in the Extreme Sailing Series in 2014 with a crew that includes the Olympic gold medallists Paul Goodison and Pippa Wilson, said he had made good progress on securing backing from private individuals.

Former Team Origin backers Sir Keith Mills and Charles Dunstone, involved in the previously failed bid to launch a British America's Cup team, are among those involved as well as 'two or three' other private investors. Ainslie hopes to raise around half of the $100m required from private backers, with the rest from commercial sponsorship. 'There's no fixed date for the publication of the rules but we expect some rough drafts in the next month or so and for that to be made public in the spring,' he said.

Under the historic 'Deed of Gift', the winner chooses the next venue, the remainder of the details are negotiated with the Challenger of Record, Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Mills pulled the plug on Team Origin after the last protocol was announced - largely believed to be a result of the conflict with the London Olympics in 2012 and the split effort that would cause with going to a wing sailed multihull for the 2013 America's Cup. Sadly that move broke up the opportunity for a united British effort in the 35th America's Cup, with Gold medalist Iain Percy (GBR) signing with Artemis Racing (SWE) and now heads that team.

'So long as that's realistic, and there's no nasty surprises in there, then we'll push ahead. We expect the budget to be somewhere in the region of $100m, we're realistic about that,' Ainslie remarked.

He said he was also 'starting to pull the right sailors and designers together' and that the Extreme Sailing series of 'short, sharp' races around the world would help develop his thoughts about the right alchemy of skills and personalities required.

But Ainslie said a British bid for the 35th America's Cup, likely to take place in San Francisco in 2017, would have been impossible without the boost in profile afforded the sport by his part in Team Oracle's dramatic 8-7 victory last year.

'Realistically, we wouldn't be able to get to where we are now – we still have a way to go but we've had a huge amount of support – if the Cup hadn't been the success it was,' he told the Guardian, recalling how he had 'no idea' in the US how keenly the race was being followed back home.

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America’s Cup Final 5 Oracle Team USA Skipper James Spithill and Ben Ainslie - the combination will break up if Ainslie is successful with his British bid -  Carlo Borlenghi-Luna Rossa©   Click Here to view large photo


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9:51 PM Thu 9 Jan 2014GMT


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