Q&A: Sir Ben Ainslie on his enduring bid to win the America’s Cup
by Chris Jefferies
With the format of the 36th America’s Cup taking shape, there are still a few details up in the air. One thing is for certain though, Sir Ben Ainslie will be there, his desire to bring the cup home undiminished. Boat International caught up with the former Olympian to learn more about the road to Auckland 2021…
Are you disappointed to see multihulls disappear from the America’s Cup?
We are comfortable with the transition. The key people in our sailing, design, engineering and support teams all have a great deal of relevant experience. Although I feel that stability and staying with the multihull ACC for the next America’s Cup would have been the best decision, this new boat could be just as exciting.
Do you see any potential problems with the new nationality quotas?
Land Rover BAR has always had a British identity, so a nationality rule suits us well with strong homegrown talent in our sailing team. We are yet to see which teams will continue from the last America’s Cup, but a couple of them were very multi-national and they will have to reconfigure their sailing teams to meet the new residency requirements, which will be expensive.
Will the new protocol make the America’s Cup more attractive for new teams?
I think we have to see the class rule for the boat before we can answer that question. The America’s Cup will always be a sporting and design race and there is a need for the best talent. The top end of sport is expensive.
How many of your financial backers have committed to the 2021 campaign so far?
We have a huge amount of support, not only from Land Rover but also from our main partners, 11th Hour Racing, Aberdeen Standard Investments, CMC, BT and Coutts, alongside our team chairman Sir Charles Dunstone and the Land Rover BAR Board — who have continued supporting the team. Their support really allows us to go forward with confidence and continue our goal to bring the cup home.
How many of your team members will be retained?
We have been looking back at the last campaign and learning from the mistakes, we have retained a core team through the period until the class rule is released and are restructuring and examining where our specific focus should be to create a winning formula.
How will your experience in Bermuda shape your Auckland strategy?
As a new team, we were playing a game of catch up all the way through the 35th America’s Cup and that put a lot of pressure on us, but while we did make mistakes in strategy we have identified them and learned from them. If I had to pick one thing out for the next campaign, it’s to do a better job of matching our racing strategy to the available resources.