Ainslie sees ‘huge po­ten­tial’ for Asian boom

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

MAS­TER yachts­man Ben Ainslie said the sport has “huge po­ten­tial” in Asia af­ter he pow­ered to vic­tory in the first Amer­ica’s Cup event held in the re­gion.

Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR won the two-day event in Fukuoka, western Ja­pan, on Novem­ber 20, seal­ing the Amer­ica’s Cup World Series ti­tle and gain­ing bonus points for next year’s qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

Thou­sands of Ja­panese fans turned out for an event, which in­cluded SoftBank Ja­pan, and Ainslie said he could feel the sport was grow­ing more pop­u­lar in the re­gion.

“The Ja­panese peo­ple have been re­ally sup­port­ive of Softbank Team Ja­pan. It’s great to have an Asian team in­volved in this Amer­ica’s Cup, to be rac­ing in Asia,” he said.

“It’s a part of the world where we want to in­crease in­ter­est in the Amer­ica’s Cup and add fan­base. So it’s been a huge suc­cess I think, this week­end.”

Ainslie, a four-time Olympic gold medal­list, guided Or­a­cle Team USA to a bril­liant come-from-be­hind vic­tory at the 2013 Amer­ica’s Cup.

He is now aim­ing to make Land Rover BAR Bri­tain’s first-ever win­ner of the world’s old­est sport­ing tro­phy, which dates back 165 years.

Ainslie said he hopes more Asian coun­tries will host Amer­ica’s Cup events, adding that young Asian sailors were al­ready among the best in the world.

“I think in Asia it has huge po­ten­tial be­cause the con­di­tions in Asia are gen­er­ally quite light winds, but ac­tu­ally for young peo­ple to start and to learn to sail in light winds, it’s much safer, it’s much less in­tim­i­dat­ing,” he said.

Fukuoka was the fi­nal stage of a pro­tracted qual­i­fy­ing process that counts to­ward the 2017 Amer­ica’s Cup Chal­lenger Series, the win­ner of which will take on Or­a­cle in the 2017 Amer­ica’s Cup in Ber­muda.

The Amer­ica’s Cup dates back to 1851, when the yacht Amer­ica won a race around the Isle of Wight off the south coast of Bri­tain.

Only teams from four coun­tries – the United States, Switzer­land, New Zealand and Aus­tralia – have hoisted the tophy since then. –

Photo: AFP

Mem­bers of Land Rover BAR of Great Bri­tain pour cham­pagne on their team’s prin­ci­pal and skip­per Ben Ainslie (left) to cel­e­brate their vic­tory in the Louis Vuit­ton Amer­ica’s Cup in Fukuoka on Novem­ber 20.

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