Ainslie gets head start
BRITISH ace Sir Ben Ainslie has signalled his America’s Cup intentions by signing his team up for one of the world’s premier monohull series.
Ainslie gave a strong indication he would be joining the Auckland 2021 edition of the America’s Cup as he digested the protocol released by holders Emirates Team New Zealand.
Having invested in multi-hull technology for his first Britishbacked attempt at the Cup in Bermuda, the most decorated Olympic sailor is resigned to the shift back to monohulls with the Kiwis promising a radical design that will be the future of the sport.
Ainslie has wasted little time in taking steps to make the necessary adjustments.
Ainslie will link with British billionaire Tony Langley’s Gladiator for the 52 Super Series.
The series, sailed in 52-footers is seen as the world’s leading grand prix monohull series.
‘‘The return to monohull racing for the America’s Cup means that the 52 Super Series will be great racing for our sailing team,’’ Ainslie said in announcing the joint venture.
‘‘Tony Langley is one of the biggest supporters of British sailing and this will give us a unique opportunity to return to the subtleties of monohull sailing at an extremely high level.
‘‘This allows not just our sailing team, but also our design and performance teams to start developing our tools and methodology as we begin our 36th America’s Cup campaign.’’
It is believed that 62-year-old Langley, who has made his fortune in engineering, will continue at the helm of Gladiator, a role he has held since 2012.
With the first details of the new 75-foot America’s Cup boats only being unveiled to teams and media on November 30 and the actual class rule not being confirmed until March 31, potential syndicates will look to utilise other monohull sailing options to gear up for Auckland.
The build of the new boats is expected to take around eight months.
Syndicates are allowed to build two boats with the first of them not to be launched until March 31, 2019.
The 52 Super Series is already shaping as a hotbed for potential Cup teams.
This year’s Super Series had six events – two in Florida and the rest in the Mediterranean.
It is understood Italian challenger of record Luna Rossa have been on the lookout for a TP52.
American Doug DeVos, the Amway boss and one half of the wealthy backers behind the New York Yacht Club’s exciting challenge for Auckland, has confirmed he will continue to race the Super Series in 2018.
DeVos and his Quantum Racing program have set the stan- dard in the series, and its predecessor, the MedCup, with overall series wins in 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2016. They slipped to third this year and want to make amends.
‘‘For Quantum Racing in 2018, it is business as usual. The 52 Super Series is a great place for racing development and clearly based on our results this year we need to get back to the basics and racing. I’m really excited. I can’t wait for the series to start,’’ Terry REUTERS Hutchinson, DeVos’ tactician and the CEO of the New York challenge, said.
New York’s early challenge confirmation – official entries with a US$1m fee don’t open until January 1 – is a major sign of approval of Team New Zealand’s user-friendly protocol and having the oldest America’s Cup yacht club involved brings instant credibility to the challengers fleet.
It is the culmination of months of behind the scenes work.
British boat Gladiator in action during the 52 Super Series. Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup team will be on board the boat in 2018.