Ben Ainslie, the British Olympic hero who came on board ORACLE TEAM USA as tactician and helped guide the American defender to victory in the America’s Cup last month is on the stump trying to raise money for a British challenge.
He told the BBC’s Radio 5 that the ORACLE TEAM USA comeback story had generated massive interest in the Cup both in Britain and around the world. Since stepping off the boat, victorious, on September 25, he has been working to convert that interest into money for a British challenge.
“There’s a lot of support for sailing in this country. The excitement from this last event, the people who would be interested in backing a team like this, if there was ever a time to do it, it’s now,” he said. “There’s been a huge response and I’ve been really excited by non-sailors in the UK who have really taken to the sport.
“In terms of raising the funds for a team, that’s a big ask,” he acknowledged.
“I’ve been working very hard on raising money. There’s a commercial side to it, but you can’t build that up right away. That will take more time, and knowledge on where the next event will be and when.
“So in the meantime, we need some private investors to come in and underwrite the campaign so that we know we can get to the end and we can sign the designers and sailors. If we can’t do that, we won’t do it (launch the challenge). There’s no point going into an event like this without the talent because your chances of winning are then very slim.”
Ainslie also said he thought there was a window of about two more weeks where he’d be able to get his hands on the type of sailors and designers necessary to make a successful challenge. After that, they would be making commitments to other teams.
“There were only four teams in this last event, so there’s a limited pool of sailors and designers. I think there’s a window of about two more weeks before those sailors and designers will get snapped up.”
Ben Ainslie also answered questions from BBC Sport contributors here