Olympic golden boy Sir Ben Ainslie lines up £50m America's Cup gamble

 

Competitors for an at least £50m. assault on the America’s Cup may not even make it to the final shoot-out under the new rules issued months after they were expected for the next event in 2017. Nor do they know where the racing will be staged, but they do know they have to stump up $2m. in entry fees, to be paid in two instalments this year, and find an additional performance bond of $1m. plus guaranteeing to insure all their team members and be responsible for their safety. This is consequential on the death of British gold medallist Andrew Simpson while training with the Swedish challenger Artemis on San Francisco Bay in May 2013.

Sir Ben Ainslie is due to lift the curtain on his British team in the presence of the Duchess of Cambridge at the Greenwich Maritime Museum next Tuesday (10 June) but he will need to finish in the top four challengers from a world series of regattas next year and in 2016 or he will not make it to the challenger semi-finals at the eventual America’s Cup 35 venue in 2017.

And he will have to win that right in a fleet of 45-foot wing-powered catamarans – which may be modified to skim on foils across the top of the water in 2016 – while at the same time working on a brand new design of 62-foot wing-powered catamarans, 10 feet shorter than the 2013 boats, which will be used in the semi-final knock-out stages and in the best of 13 match against the American defender, Oracle Team USA.

But the new format, negotiated on behalf of all the challengers, whomever they may be, by Iain Murray and Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club, has welcomed the fox into the henhouse. The winner of the 45-footer series picks  up a prize of at least one win towards that best of 13 and that winner could be the defender, Larry Ellison’s San Francisco-based (at least, for the time being) Oracle Team USA. If it is a challenger that then loses in the four-team semi-final then the bonus point is lost.

A new nationality rule merely requires on crew on the 45-footers and two on the 62-footers to be born in or hold a passport of the challenging country. “We will have no trouble meeting that,” said Sir Ben earlier this year.

“If you are going to suggest that Ben wouldn’t make the final four, then I would be more than an arm’s length away,” said a senior member of the American organisers. But, while only five teams look set to go forward at this stage, and the New Zealanders would need to persuade the government to pitch in again and the French are fishing in murky financial waters, the lack of certainty helps no-one except the defender.

Previously any challenger that could make it to start line could bid for the right to be the sole challenger and all could guarantee their backers to right to join in the America’s Cup party at the America’s Cup venue.

Where that will be remains a mystery as the defender group has not been given, nor accepted continuity at the 2013 venue of San Francisco. Various names, including San Diego, Newport Rhode Island, Chicago and Bermuda have popped up.

The defender hopes that all of the competitors will stage one of the build-up regattas in their own country and each of those teams will have to run a Youth America’s Cup team, details of which will be published later this year. The 2015 world series venues will be announced by 1 December.

Said Sir Ben: “Great to see the protocol. Plenty to digest and clearly the focus for the next cup is commercial.”  

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect