Sir Ben Ainslie may be confident of there being a British challenge for the America’s Cup, but Olympic sailing chief Stephen Park has warned that without private funding the well of talent could dry up.
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Ainslie last month helped Oracle Team USA recover from a seemingly impossible 8-1 deficit to win international sport’s oldest trophy in spectacular circumstances.
Now, though, having triumphed in San Francisco, Ainslie has set his sights on bringing the cup home to the UK, where the competition began in 1851. Having launched his own team, Ben Ainslie Racing, in January 2012, the 36-year-old is looking for funding to help mount his own challenge for the 35th America’s Cup.
It would take sailing on to a new level in Great Britain, but without private backing for the Olympic programme it could prove a flash in the pan. The Royal Yachting Association has lost key sponsors such as Skandia and G4S in the wake of London 2012 and Olympic manager Park has warned more support is needed if world-class British sailors are to continue getting churned out.