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Plas Menai 2015

Can Ben Ainslie Racing win the 35th America's Cup?

by Mark Jardine 10 Jun 2014 16:21 BST 10 June 2014
Sir Keith Mills with The Duchess of Cambridge, Sir Ben Ainslie and Sir Charles Dunstone with the America's Cup © Mark Lloyd

So the Ben Ainslie Racing challenge for the 35th America's Cup has been launched with the Duchess of Cambridge meeting the team on the lawns of The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and a Press Conference in the Great Hall at the Queen's House.

Everything ran very smoothly with Sir Ben looking particularly relaxed after what has been an extremely busy time for him getting the whole campaign together. The America's Cup had been flown over especially and was sat on its case in front of the BAR AC45 on the lawns and then beside the stage during the press conference.

Sailing team member Matt Cornwell, otherwise known as Catflap, stole the show on the lawns with The Duchess of Cambridge as his two children ran up to see him. He'd just flown back from racing to victory with Ian Williams at Match Race Germany so hadn't seen them for a while - the Duchess seemed delighted to meet his kids at the launch. She also was highly complementary of David 'Freddie' Carr's new glasses!

The Team

The first name Sir Ben announced on the sailing team was Jono Macbeth, a three-time America's Cup winner and grinder on-board the 34th America's Cup winning team, ORACLE TEAM USA. Also named were Andy 'Animal' McLean, who sailed with Artemis Racing, David 'Freddie' Carr & Nick Hutton, who both sailed for Prada Luna Rossa Challenge in the last AC, and Matt 'Catflap' Cornwall who has been sailing with Ben recently in the Extreme Sailing Series and also sailed with Ben when they won the 2010 World Match Racing Tour.

The Investors

Led by Sir Charles Dunstone, the team of Investors and Board Members is formidable. They include Sir Keith Mills, Lord Michael Grade and Lord Irvine Laidlaw. They've set a budget of £80 million, 'give or take' as Sir Keith put it.

The Designers

The Design Team includes Andy Claughton, who has been involved with the America's Cup since 1983, Jason Ker, who has designed some of the most successful IRC racing yachts on the planet, Dirk Kramers, who has been designing for the America's Cup since 1977 and a number of other top names from Computational Fluid Dynamics, Software, Modelling and Instrumentation.

The Adrian Newey question

There had been rumours abounding that Adrian Newey, the Formula 1 designer for Red Bull Racing, would be announced as part of the Ben Ainslie Racing design team, and the question did come up during the Press Conference. Ben did admit that he'd met with Adrian on a number of occasions, but nothing has been finalised yet. Adrian has recently renegotiated his contract with Red Bull Racing allowing him to take on other projects.

Where will the 35th America's Cup be?

We asked both Sir Ben Ainslie, Sir Charles Dunstone and Jason Ker where they'd like the 35th America's Cup to be held and they were all unequivocal in wanting San Francisco. It's a natural amphitheatre, the wind is about as regular as it can be and the backdrop for racing is superb. Let's just hope that Larry Ellison and San Francisco can agree a deal.

Can Ben Ainslie Racing win?

This looks like the real deal when it comes to a challenge for the 35th America's Cup. The three key ingredients to challenge for 'The Auld Mug' are money, talent and experience. The mountain the team have to climb though is enormous; Larry Ellison's budget is huge, the defender can build two AC62 yachts whereas the challengers can only build one and Ben Ainslie Racing must get through the Challenger Series before they can even think about racing in the 35th America's Cup match itself. The team has been working behind the scenes since March so they are hitting the ground running. The build up will start in earnest on the water in 2015 with the America's Cup World Series in the AC45s.

All we can do is wish Sir Ben and the whole team the Best of British and hope that they can #BringTheCupHome!

Find out more on the team at benainslieracing.com