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America's Cup: Ainslie announcement prompts Cup conjecture - Live

'1851 Cup Regatta. Day 2. TeamOrigin and BMW Oracle Racing.'    Ian Roman/TEAMORIGIN    Click Here to view large photo

Ben Ainslie, winner of four Olympic medals, three of them Gold, will hold a media conference on Tuesday 10 June at 10.00am local time, to announce his plans post 2012.

The announcement will be made at the Royal Festival Hall, London and will be carried live on Sail-World. The announcement is scheduled to run for 30-40 minutes.

Ainslie is expected to announce his sailing direction beyond the 2012 Olympics, in which he has been nominated to represent Britain in the Heavyweight Singlehander (Finn) class.

An America's Cup campaign, believed to be emanating from Britain is expected. Had it involved another a team from another country the announcement would probably not have been made in UK.

The question then remains as to who the team backers will be, with front runners being a rejuvenated effort from Sir Keith Mills, who previously backed the Team Origin effort. Or, whether a new player, such as Sir Richard Branson, with the various Virgin brands, could be involved.

The third option is that Ainslie could be starting his own team, and could be joined by long-time tactician Iain Percy. Ainslie is expected to retire from Finn sailing after the 2012 Olympics, and Percy's class, the two man Star keelboat will be dropped for the 2016 Olympics. But to further complicate matters, Percy has been sailing with Challenger of Record Artemis Racing.

However the prospect of a sailor led team is an intriguing one for the British, who don't seem to lack for bankable sailing stars, but do seem to lack the ability to get a viable and winning America's Cup campaign up and running.

The only issue that Ainslie would face with a sailor led team is money. But his experiences with Emirates Team NZ as a tune-up helmsman in the 2007 Defence may have given him some insights as to how a professional team can be run, as opposed to the billionaire backed model.

Ben Ainslie and his Team Origin crew celebrate winning the World Match Racing Tour at the Monsoon Cup 2010. -  Subzero Images -AWMRT?nid=92636   Click Here to view large photo

Given the timing, it is believed to be unlikely that an AC72 effort would be slated for the 2013 America's Cup, however with the restructured competition an entry in the America's Cup World Series involving a single AC45 is more of a possibility.

Such a program would build a lower level platform from which a full America's Cup program could be built for the 35th America's Cup and would provide a basis on which to attract sponsors on a lower level on investment, than for a full-blown America's Cup program.

In a media discussion, just prior to Christmas, America's Cup Regatta Director, Iain Murray said that they couldn't build AC45's fast enough, and they expected to have 12 boats sailing at the next event in Naples, Italy, and by mid-year there should be 13 AC45's racing. 'We expect to have nine teams sailing in Naples,' he said. 'Three of those team will have two boats each,' he added.

'We are committed to building boats 15 and 16. We can't build them quickly enough. Unfortunately we can't get boat 15 to Naples in time for the next round of the America's Cup World Series.'

The intriguing point with that comment, is where all the AC45's are going? Unless there are new teams coming into the World Series.

Luna Rossa announced that they will be entering the America's Cup and have confirmed that they will be launching an AC45 in Auckland and sailing that as part of a partnership arrangement with Emirates Team NZ, who have imported their AC45 back to Auckland. That accounts for just one of the new AC45's.

Nine teams are currently entered being Team China, Emirates Team NZ, Aleph (FRA), Energy Team (FRA), Artemis (SWE), Green Comm Racing (ESP), Team Korea, Luna Rossa (ITA) and Oracle Racing (USA). Currently only Oracle Racing have more than one AC45.

The press conference will start at approximately 1000 GMT on Tuesday 10 Jan and will run for 30-45 minutes. Once the press conference is over, a replay will be looped for 24 hours.




by Richard Gladwell

  

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2:13 AM Sat 7 Jan 2012 GMT






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