The Duchess of Cambridge turned up to support Ben's America's Cup announcement today. It seems that Kate is a bit of a sailing fan (see Royals go sailing in New Zealand: Duchess wins), which can only help give the campaign the sort of spotlight it needs to attract the necessary funding.

British AC challenge launch Sir Ben Ainslie and Kate Middleton

HRH the Duchess of Cambridge and Sir Ben Ainslie with the America's Cup at the British AC challenge launch.



Other big names throwing their weight behind the campaign include Sir Charles Dunstone, who is a founding shareholder and chairman, and Sir Keith Mills. It was fabulous to see so much enthusiasm and support for a British AC challenge. It seems that many of the important building bricks are in place, although there are also a lot of hurdles to go.

The key points of the announcement include:

• £80million of funding estimated, of which 40 per cent is in place.

• The sailing team will include the likes of David "Freddy" Carr (son of former RYA CEO Rod Carr), Andy McLean, Nick Hutton and Matt Cornwell.

• The Sailing Team manager will be Jono Macbeath.

• The challenging club for the British AC challenge will be the Royal Yacht Squadron. Very apt as that's where the Cup started its life.

• The challenge will aim to be based out of Portsmouth. This we already knew but there is a lot of local opposition. Ben has reportedly said if the challenge isn't based in Portsmouth it will go abroad.

• Speculation that Formula 1 designer Adrian Newey might be involved continues as the Daily Telegraph reported that Ainslie had stated that Newey is "keen" to help, but has not yet committed to his America's Cup project.

Ben Ainslie said: “This is the last great historic sporting prize never won by Great Britain. It has always been my ambition to mount a home challenge. The time is right and I am hugely encouraged by the support we are getting, not least from the Duchess of Cambridge. I learned a great deal aboard Oracle in San Francisco and I would not be challenging if I did not believe we have a real chance of winning this time.”

Ben's announcement follows the announcement of the 35th America's Cup Protocol, see AC35: America’s Cup protocol announced. Ben has two months to get the rest of the pieces of the puzzle in place and ensure his formal entry is lodged. His aim to win the Cup back for Britain and bring it home to the waters where it was born is beyond tough, but if anyone can achieve such a feat one feels that he can.

 

Written by: Gael Pawson
Gael Pawson is the editor of Yachts & Yachting Magazine and the founder of Creating Waves. A keen racer, she has sailed all her life, and started writing about the subject whilst studying journalism at university. Dinghies and small keelboats are her first loves, but she has cruised and raced a huge variety of boats in locations across the world.
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