Big Ben’s Amer­ica’s Cup plans are tick­ing along nicely

Sir Ben Ainslie signs joint ven­ture for mono­hull se­ries

Sunday Star-Times - - SPORT -

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 stan­dard 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, ‘‘ Terry 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.

The re­turn to mono­hull rac­ing for the Amer­ica's Cup means that the 52 Su­per Se­ries will be great rac­ing for our sail­ing team Sir Ben Ainslee

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