Ainslie eyeing Americas Cup success with a Great Britain team
Sailing is fast becoming a sport for the international jet set. It’s stylish and competitive with trends so far suggesting that a number of FTSE 100 companies will be battling it out with one another to establish teams.
Already Fly Emirates, Artemis, Prada, Energy and Oracle have teams, in what has become a corporate arm wrestle for free marketing on the expansive, unpopulated platform that is the ocean.
For Sir Ben Ainslie, nothing else matters than winning in the sport he loves. Looking ahead to three years’ time, his sincere hope is that Great Britain have their own team, after Oracle drafted him in to inspire what was deemed an impossible comeback to beat Team New Zealand.
The sailor undoubtedly wants to rule the waves under his national flag, having won four Olympic gold medals and a silver, being the most successful person in the sport’s history.
“It’s a huge motivation,” he said. “It’s the one last hurdle in international sport that Britain has never crossed. It is crazy, really. So to set it straight would be a huge achievement, something that we are all working incredibly hard to pull off.”
Swiss team Alinghi were the only ones who have gained victory on their maiden attempt, in 2003 when they toppled New Zealand, the success largely coming thanks to the billions of pharmaceutical entrepreneur Ernesto Bertarelli.
Even with the likes of US, France, Sweden, Italy and New Zealand set to provide competition in 2017, it isn’t deterring Ainslie.
“It is winnable,” he said. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think that.”
“Traditionally it would have been a struggle, but I know that Larry is super-keen on turning the America’s Cup into something sustainable,” he said.
“He has put pressure on Russell Coutts, the Oracle chief executive, and all the big players to slash their budgets massively.
This is not the Oracle of old, where they would just want the Cup on the mantelpiece and not care about how much money it took to get there. It’s a different world from 10 years ago. People have had to tighten their belts.”
For Ainslie, the optimism is evident. No-one and nothing is taking the wind out of his sails.