Following his historic gold medal win at the Olympics just two weeks ago, Ben Ainslie is shifting his attention to the America’s Cup, another lifelong dream for the British sailor.
At the Olympic Games earlier this month, Ainslie became the most successful Olympic sailor in history, adding a fourth consecutive gold medal to his 1996 silver medal.
Now, he’s in San Francisco with his own J.P. Morgan BAR team, about to compete in the America’s Cup World Series for the first time.
“As a kid growing up I really wanted to be part of the Olympics and do well at that and also to be part of an America’s Cup team that could win,” Ainslie said on Saturday. “This is the next stage in my career and I’m really excited to be a part of the Cup.”
Ainslie was on the water training on Saturday afternoon in the strong conditions on San Francisco Bay with an experienced crew that had previously competed under ORACLE TEAM USA Coutts banner.
“I couldn’t ask for a better team around me. I’m definitely the weak link at the moment,” he joked. “I probably learned more today than I have in the past 25 years of sailing. It’s so much fun and so rewarding when you go into something you don’t really know. This style of racing and this boat – the AC45 – is a massive learning curve and that’s a lot of fun.”
He says he’s keeping his expectations in check this week, although he admits his competitive nature will probably get the better of him.
“We’re going to try and just stay out of trouble initially and slowly work our way up,” he said. “I do like to do well, but we have to be realistic. A lot of these teams have been going at if for a long time now, but we have the right support, we have good sailors and the boat looks great, so why not?”
J.P. Morgan BAR will compete in all of the 2012-13 AC World Series events but in between, Ainslie will work with ORACLE TEAM USA as a member of their sailing team on the giant AC72 catamarans. Ainslie is expected to battle skipper Jimmy Spithill in the Defender Trials next summer in San Francisco.
“I can’t wait to start working together, because we’ll be getting the best sailor on the planet right now,” Spithill said earlier this week. “It’s exciting from a team perspective. And personally, he’s going to push me. I think we’ll all learn a lot from someone like him.”