Sir Ben Ainslie, team principal and skipper of INEOS TEAM UK, believes the 36th America’s Cup will surprise viewers and grab their full attention.
Ainslie was speaking from a hotel room in New Zealand where he is currently in quarantine with his wife and four-year-old daughter.
The family unit must stay in their hotel for 14 days before being allowed to join other members of INEOS TEAM UK on the ground in New Zealand, the venue for the 36th America’s Cup.
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Over the past couple of weeks, multiple race boats and team members have landed in New Zealand as participants continue to work towards the next contest for the oldest trophy in international sport.
To become the 36th challenger for the America’s Cup, and face-off against Team Emirates New Zealand, one outfit must win the Challenger Selection Series, which takes place in January.
As the defenders of the America’s Cup, Team Emirates New Zealand set the parameters for this edition of the competition and instead of staying with the AC50 catamarans raced in 2017, they decided to shift to a different class and type of boat – the AC75.
AC75s are 75ft foiling monohulls. They are extraordinary creations and are able to fly as seven tonnes of boat launches a few metres above the water and accelerates out to speeds of around 60 miles per hour.
“It’s like Formula One on water really, it’s the absolute height of technology in sailing,” Ainslie said to Sky Sports News from New Zealand.
“The boats are lifting up out of the water at speeds over 60 or 70mph, there aren’t many power boats that go at that speed, let alone a sailing boat.
“The America’s Cup has the technology, speed and history. It’s got everything, all of the great ingredients.
“For those who haven’t watched before, I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised and it will knock them back a bit!”
The America’s Cup pre-dates the modern Olympic Games by 45 years. In 1851, the contest was held off the Isle of Wight but since, the America’s Cup has never returned to Great Britain.
For this 36th edition, every team taking part has been allowed to create two race boats. In October last year, INEOS TEAM UK named their first race boat ‘Britannia’.
Britannia took over 90,000 design hours and 50,000 construction hours to complete and now their second race boat has landed in New Zealand.
Race boat two’s 12,000-mile journey took place on an Antonov cargo plane flight, it included over 24 hours in the air and featured two stopovers in Dubai and Indonesia.
“We are ready to get to work on race boat two [RB2] and get her ready for sailing operations to begin,” INEOS TEAM UK CEO Grant Simmer said about RB2’s arrival.
“This is a real milestone moment for us in our challenge for the 36th America’s Cup and it’s very exciting to finally have her here with us in Auckland.”
“I’m really excited to get the second boat out in the water,” Ainslie added.
“A huge amount has gone into this; four years of work, with just over 100 people in the organisation and every one of them have put a huge amount into this. We want to make that worthwhile.
“To win the Cup for the first time and bring the America’s Cup back to British waters is a lofty target, so the anticipation is huge.
“We’ve just got to keep focused and do the best job that we possibly can.”
Ainslie himself knows what it’s like to win the America’s Cup, having done so with Oracle Team USA in 2013.
It has been described by many as one of the most exceptional comebacks in sporting history as Oracle Team USA came back from 8-1 down to secure a 9-8 victory over Team New Zealand.
Ainslie arrived as a tactician and changed the game with his exceptional sailing nous and leadership. As you’d expect, he can recall it well.
“I remember back to the 2013 America’s Cup in San Francisco and the comeback we had… Sky were covering it then and it was one of the biggest televisual moments for sailing.
“It was great for Sky to be a part of that. I think this next America’s Cup coming up has a lot of similarities to that Cup.
“We’ve got a new class of boat, which is really fast and exciting, and great teams with the best sailors out there.”
Loved having @sir_rkj onboard Britannia for his first foiling experience with @ineosteamuk #legend
A post shared by Ben Ainslie (@benainslie) on
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail single-handed non-stop around the globe, agrees with Ainslie that the best sailors are taking part in the 36th America’s Cup.
“I wish that I was 50 years younger, I would be competing to get in that [INEOS TEAM UK] team,” he said with a smile to Sky Sports.
“It has a cracking team of people, quite honestly if you looked around Britain, you couldn’t find a better team.
“Ben [Ainslie] and Giles [Scott] are two internationally top guys. The way that they, and the rest of the crew, all work together is brilliant,” he added.
“I’m very confident, if anything is possible, those two are the two to do it. As I said, the crew are outstanding, and they’ve built up such a great team.”
The first chance to see INEOS TEAM UK in action will be during the PRADA America’s Cup World Series Auckland and the PRADA Christmas Race.
Both events will be live on Sky Sports this December and will mark the first chance for all teams to race and fly their second AC75 boats.
Watch every moment of the America’s Cup challenge, live on Sky Sports. Coverage starts with the America’s Cup World Series on December 17.
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