Ineos Team UK helmsman Sir Ben Ainslie has revealed why he believes Team New Zealand are the best – and has welcomed reports of a one-off America’s Cup challenge in the UK.
In a column for the Telegraph UK, Ainslie reflected on his team’s performance in this year’s regatta and unpacked Team UK’s successful bid as the next Challenger of Record in their quest to become the first British team to win the America’s Cup.
“We’re in a much better position now than four years ago,” he wrote. “It is true that no challenger of record has ever actually won the Cup. And there is an argument to say that being COR can be a distraction; that it takes away focus from what you should be doing.
“Fortunately, I’m not superstitious and I would say if you’re well structured and you have a good relationship with the defender, which we do, we should be able to make it work to our advantage. It might be less of an advantage than it would be if you were designing a completely new class of boat. But there will be changes to this class rule and being COR will help us to understand those and being a part of that development will be fascinating.”
Ainslie said he believes Team NZ are “the best” because of their continuity and experience.
“We have stability now. We have continuity. We have learned so much from our two Cup cycles so far. It’s worth pointing out that Team New Zealand have been doing this for over 30 years. There is a reason they are the best.”
Ainslie also touched on the class rule, saying was pleased it would stay the same for the 37th America’s Cup, but he hopes light air performance will be an area of focus in developing the AC75s for the next Cup cycle.
Light winds on the Waitematā Harbour throughout the America’s Cup match earlier this month caused multiple delays and race abandonment’s as teams struggled to stay on their foils.
“We have already made good progress. We are committed now to continuing in this exciting AC75 class, and as a sailor I’m pleased about that,” Ainslie wrote. “I think these boats are extraordinary; the scale of them, the speeds they are capable of generating. If there is a weak spot it is probably the light air performance. But that’s something we can work on.
“Whether we end up taking weight out of the boat, use a different sail or foil configuration, we should be targeting the boat foiling effectively in 6 knots.”
Ainslie added he hoped keeping the class rule would see more teams able to contest in the event.
“We are committed to reducing costs as far as possible – limiting teams to the building of just one new boat, standardising certain non-essential parts – to encourage new entrants,” he said.
“I would hope to see at least six teams in the next Cup and we should be targeting as many as 10.”
While it’s yet to be revealed where the next America’s Cup will be held, a one-off match at the Isle of Wight next year – at the midway point to the next Cup in 2024 – is on the cards.
Ainslie had high hopes it would be confirmed.
“All I can say is we would be delighted if New Zealand did want to bring the Cup to Britain. It would be an incredible opportunity to build on the momentum coming out of this Cup; give the country something big to shout about coming out of Covid; give New Zealand the chance to raise commercial revenue; and all the other teams the chance to regroup,” he wrote.
“Ultimately, though, New Zealand are a commercially-driven team. They have to look at all options on the table.
“The most important thing is that we now have the commitment that we’re going ahead. That is huge for us in terms of planning for the future and trying to secure the people we want going forward.”
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