Cup confidential: Inside Land Rover BAR with Georgie Ainslie
Bikes on boats

_Georgie Ainslie, television presenter and wife of Land Rover BAR head Ben Ainslie, takes us behind the scenes at the America's Cup in Bermuda as the world's greatest sailing competition reaches its finale. _In her sixth instalment, Georgie explains that the idea of using pedal power on America's Cup boats has been around for years...

So last week ‘bikes on boats’ were the talk of Bermuda following Emirates Team New Zealand’s race boat launch. They have controversially plumped for pedal power over arm grinding machines to drive their hydraulics. There has been much debate in the other team camps over which is the more beneficial approach; legs generate more power but impede movement from one side of the boat to the other; arms generate less power but the grinders can duck down out of the wind and become more streamlined, reducing aerodynamic drag. Only time will tell which team or teams have made the smarter call as both have pluses and compromises.

Photo: Facebook / EmiratesTeamNewZealand

Bikes on boats

I remember Ben coming home from the 2013 Cup saying he would consider pedal power for this coming campaign but after many discussions at Land Rover BAR he chose instead to opt for the grinding approach. What the Kiwis have done, in selecting otherwise, is provide the world’s media with a wonderful photo op and given everyone hours of endless speculation over which method will win the 35th America’s Cup and that in itself can only be good for the sport of sailing.

Photo: Land Rover BAR

Land Rover BAR goes (Facebook) live

Image courtesy LandRoverBAR/Lloydimages

In her fifth instalment Georgie, Ben and the team take the internet for a tour of R1 via Facebook live.

Last week we launched R1, the ultimate flying machine on water which we hope in a few months time will lead us to victory in the 35th America’s Cup so we can finally lay to rest those 166 years of hurt, fulfil our mission here and #bringthecuphome.

This week the forecast is for super high winds in Bermuda so there’ll be diddly squat training on the water. I know it seems ludicrous for a sailing boat not to sail in wind but foiling these things at anything over 25 knots is just too dangerous.

Land Rover BAR goes (Facebook) live

Image courtesy LandRoverBAR/Lloydimages

So while R1 was consigned to the boat shed I thought the best way to bring to life this wonderful example of design and technology was via a Facebook live post with Ben acting as tour guide. He wasn’t alone, designer James Roche and boat captain Jo Lees helped out too, taking me and viewers through the complexities of sailing, crafting and maintaining this 50 foot carbon beast. It’s taken a whopping man 50,000 hours to get Rita on the water. Let’s hope the weather plays ball and we don’t have to wait too much longer to see her in action on the Great Sound.

The launch of Rita

Lloyd Images

In her fourth instalment Georgie takes us inside the less-than-smooth christening of Rita, the new LandRover BAR boat, and talks about the new America's cup framework agreement.

This has been our biggest week yet here in Bermuda as far as the team is concerned. On Monday (February 6) we launched Rita, the race boat that will contest the 35th America’s Cup. I won’t lie, the moment we had been building up to all morning did not go according to plan. Let it be a lesson learned to keep things simple. There was a fear amongst the team of damaging the hull should we smash a bottle of Champagne over her as most yacht christenings go. Fair enough. And so began the construction of a complicated bit of kit allowing the bottle to swing and smash but not directly onto the boat, just giving the impression that it had. All I had to do was hit a red button and boom, job done. Except that isn’t what happened.

The launch of Rita

Lloyd Images

Twice we tried to christen Rita this way but after two failed attempts we resorted to a more conventional method of hammer and brute force. Well, needs must. Let’s hope our campaign goes significantly smoother than our launch and we all maintain a sense of humour when things don’t go exactly as planned. Christening blip aside it really was the proudest day, the culmination of some serious man hours put in by the boatbuilders, designers and shore team and marked the start of the business end of this cup campaign.

A new America's Cup framework

Lloyd Images

Bermuda is beautiful, balmy and our home for the next five months but the bright lights and big city were calling and I returned home for a few days of combined work and play in January. Ben was back in Blighty recently as well, talking about what happens post-Bermuda 2017 as far as the Cup is concerned. The feedback to the new ‘framework agreement’ appears to be pretty positive with most people, even some purists, understanding that commercially it makes sense for teams to work together to widen the appeal and lessen the costs.

The main points are that the Cup will now be contested every two years, not four as has been the case, and the class of boats raced will be to some degree predetermined. The number of World Series events will increase and the hope is that a regular TV audience will be established.

We also heard that Bernie Ecclestone is stepping aside, sort of, from formally being Mr Formula One. Having travelled around the world broadcasting F1 there are such obvious similarities between the two sports and having Martin Whitmarsh, previously of the McLaren F1 team, in our camp fills both Ben and I with huge confidence that the Cup is in the best hands as it looks to become more mainstream.

Christmas in Bermuda

All images courtesy of Georgie Ainslie

In her third instalment, Georgie, Ben, Bellatrix and the rest of the Land Rover BAR team celebrate a tropical Christmas...

A week in to 2017 and I can finally sit down and start typing this diary again after a hectic break which saw the welcome arrival of my mum and dad to Bermuda for the first time since we moved here. Christmas in Bermuda was actually pretty lovely with special thanks going to the Land Rover BAR fairy godmother, our relocation organiser Jane Powys, who did what she did best and organised a beautiful festive season for everyone.

Christmas in Bermuda

We had a wonderful team lunch at the Hamilton Princess hotel complete with Father Christmas and face painting (pictured). A few days on, however, and the boys are back at work all hours and the kiddies have started at school. Ben has just the one New Year’s resolution for 2017. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to guess what that is…

Driving in Bermuda

In her second instalment Georgie grapples the very different reality of driving in Bermuda.

Here’s the thing about Bermuda. It’s tiny. Even I, little in stature as I am, can say with some confidence that it is in fact bite size. Shelby, our newly crowned favourite taxi driver on the island (pictured) told me last week there are 65,000 people living here and with the arrival of the America’s Cup teams we’ve collectively put that figure up to 66,000 which in a small community is a big noise. I say ‘community’, I mean country, all 20 square miles of it.