Archive for » June 10th, 2014«


Last year Britain’s most able seaman since Admiral Nelson masterminded one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all-time, calling the tactics as Oracle Team USA sailed back from a virtual Dead Sea to win the America’s Cup in San Francisco.

But sailing with a Stars and Stripe on his sleeve took something off the moment for the four-time Olympic and eight-time world champion.

Britain has staged the Olympics, finally won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon and seized yellow at the Tour de France twice…in two years.

But the Auld Mug is arguably the last sporting summit to be conquered and it’s time to end 163 years of maritime misery, with Sir Ben at the helm and a nation providing the wind in his sails.

However, turning a required investment of £80 million into a success will not be easy, new teams rarely succeed on their maiden voyages – indeed it took US software billionaire Larry Ellison two attempts – a reported $200 million – before his success in Valencia four years ago.

“It is never easy, but it is about bringing together the right people who have built successful corporations, designed successful America’s Cup boats, sailed on winning boats, brought the Olympics to Britain and we have those people,” said Ainslie, who is being backed by London 2012 deputy chairman Sir Keith Mills and Carphone Warehouse co-founder Sir Charles Dunstone in his campaign.

“Winning last year was more powerful that anything I’d previously achieved but it would have been so much more fulfilling with a British team and that’s the goal.

“Since childhood I’ve had this burning desire and ambition to be part of a winning British America’s Cup team. We don’t just want to take part, we’re here to win and we’ve got a budget that will make us competitive.”

Next week Ainslie will seek to capture one of his sport’s most famous records as he seeks to set the quickest monohull circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight at the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.

He already holds the multihull record from last year and the event has deep rooted historical links to his America’s Cup campaign.

The race was first contested as a 52-mile circuit sail on the Solent in 1851 – the schooner America won – claiming trophy naming rights – and a British boat has never won it back.

Ainslie – who has already raised 40 percent of his required budget – could have named his price to be involved with another campaign but wanted to fly the British flag, though he’s drafted in experienced Kiwi Jono McBeth to the key role of sailing manager.

“For me, it is probably not the easy option, but it is certainly the right option,” added Ainslie, who received a royal seal of approval to his challenge from the Duchess of Cambridge.

“It is about righting a wrong and bringing the cup back to British waters for the first time ever.

“I know what it is like to be successful but I’d like to do that under the British flag – with a boat the whole country can get behind. All of us are here to win the America’s Cup and we will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.”

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Sailing-Olympic champion Ainslie leads UK bid for America's Cup

(Adds details)

By Josh Reich

LONDON, June 10 (Reuters) – Sailor Ben Ainslie will lead an 80 million pound ($134 million) British challenge for the 35th America’s Cup in 2017, aiming to return sport’s oldest trophy to his country for the first time.

The four-time Olympic gold medallist helped inspire one of the great sporting comebacks last year when Oracle Team USA rallied from 8-1 down to defeat Emirates Team New Zealand 9-8 and land the trophy.

The 37-year-old has now set his sights on a British challenge, seeking to lead his country to a first win since the competition began in 1851.

The venue for the 2017 regatta has yet to be confirmed, but new protocols, including nationality requirements, have been negotiated by software billionaire Larry Ellison, owner of Oracle, and Team Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club, the Challenger of Record.

“It’s a huge challenge, there’s no doubt about it,” Ainslie told reporters at the launch by the river Thames in south London.

“Taking on Larry Ellison and the team is a massive challenge, no question about it,” he added.

There has long been speculation that Ainslie planned to lead an America’s Cup challenge but he had been awaiting the protocols or guidelines and also putting together the funding and crew.

Telecoms entrepreneur Charles Dunstone said 40 percent of the budget would come from wealthy individuals.

“We needed to form a team before we stand credibly before you today,” said Dunstone, chairman and founding shareholder of the Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) team.

BAR board member and one of the founding investors Keith Mills said they would be targeting large British multinational companies, and a naming rights sponsor, but said it was not crucial that they had everything in place before the Aug 8 entry deadline.

“We’ve had some really goods positive responses, if we have two or three companies (tendering) it would be perfect. At the moment it’s bilateral.”

Among the new protocols, the next Cup will be sailed with a similar but smaller version of the 72-foot, wing-sail catamarans used in 2013. The new 62-foot boats, called AC62s, will be crewed by eight people, three fewer than last year.

The venue for the racing is yet to be determined, with Hawaii and the coastal cities of Newport, Rhode Island, and San Diego all thought to be in consideration.

Ainslie insisted the racing should take place in San Francisco, venue of last year’s regatta.

“It’s perfect for the foil boats and you can almost guarantee conditions.”

Britain’s challenge would be affiliated to the Royal Yacht Squadron as Yacht Squadron Racing.

At least two members of the eight-person crews for each race in 2017 had to be nationals of the country of the yacht club represented, and Ainslie had already put in plenty of groundwork assembling design and sailing teams, including New Zealand’s Jono MacBeth, a three-time winner of the Cup, as sailing team manager.


One man who had yet to be signed up was Red Bull Formula One designer Adrian Newey, amid recent speculation he could take his talents off the track and onto the water.

“I’ve met Adrian a number of times and he’s a fantastic guy and an amazing Formula One designer.

“He is very keen on sailing and the America’s Cup, but also has a huge commitment to Formula One, so we’ll see.

“He’d be a huge asset for our team over the coming months and years if he can find time to be involved, but we’ll wait and see.”

Having dominated Olympic Sailing for well over a decade, Ainslie said that chapter of his life was closed, and having already claimed on America’s Cup title, he was determined to win it again for his homeland.

“It’s a childhood ambition to be frank, I grew up down in Cornwall.

“I remember as a kid sitting in my Optimist watching these amazing boats race, and something just bit me. I had this burning desire to be part of winning America’s Cup team and I was going to be winning British America’s Cup team.

“I was very fortunate to be part of Oracle last time, it was a fantastic experience, a great team, I have a lot of respect for them and Team New Zealand, but we want to win this for Britain.”

($1 = 0.5956 British Pounds) (Additional reporting by Alex Smith; editing by Keith Weir/Amlan Chakraborty)

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New England Science & Sailing to mark 10th anniversary June 21

Stonington – New England Science Sailing will kick off its 10th anniversary celebration with its NESS Fest on June 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its facility on Water Street in the borough. Ten years after its founding, the nonprofit organization now serves 3,000 students a year through sailing, science, and adventure sports programs.

The family-oriented celebration will feature food and free activities including sailing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and face painting. Those who attend can meet the NESS staff, tour the facilities including the marine science lab, and view the organization’s fleet of boats. The event is open to the public.

“We are honored to have served our community for the last ten years, and we look forward to bringing our impactful curriculum to even more students in the years to come,” said NESS President Spike Lobdell “NESS’s evolution into a nationally-recognized, award-winning adventure education provider has been supported by so many friends, customers, partners, volunteers, and staff. Our entire community should be proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last decade.”

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Sailing students at Lunenburg Yacht Club learn to duck when tacking

Lili Close got a bump on the head Monday morning.

Actually, she got several of them, yet was still laughing with delight.

The 11-year-old Grade 6 student at Bayview Community School in Mahone Bay got to try out sailing for the first time Monday as part of a program started by a young man just a few years older than her.

She and her boat mates learned pretty quickly to duck when tacking, or suffer a knock on the head with the boom.

Lili is one of about 400 students who will attend Sail All this year. Graham Mann, 21, founded the non-profit organization last year so that youth can experience sailing, regardless of their financial situation.

Many of them will continue with new after-school and family programs that will also be offered at no cost by Sail All at the Lunenburg Yacht Club.

For five weeks, a school bus pulls up every morning with a new class of kids anxious and a bit nervous about getting out on the water.

They file into the boathouse where instructors go over the basics of the boat, including the names of the two sails, how the boat is steered and what to avoid — such as Hermans Island.

Then they put on their sunscreen and life-jackets and head down to the Echos, small boats that seat four, have a main sail and a jib, and a centreboard that keeps the boat balanced.

“I’m excited. I just don’t want to tip the boat,” said Logan Hiltz, 11.

His brother Tyler took part in this program last year and gave Logan a few pointers, including how to tack.

Maddie Chiasson, also 11, has done some sailing. “I find it’s a big stress reliever. You don’t really have to worry about anything except what you’re doing on the boat.”

Lili said while she was nervous, she likes to try new things.

The idea for Sail All came to Mann while he was at McGill University in Montreal. He has just graduated with his degree in mechanical engineering and plans to take his master’s in naval architecture and marine engineering.

Mann grew up sailing. Indeed, his home overlooks Lunenburg’s yacht club.

But when he moved to Montreal where he had hoped to sail on the St. Lawrence River, Mann realized how challenging it is for those not close to a club, or struggling with a tight budget.

“It sort of hit home. I’ve been fairly privileged to be right across the way and it made me realize how inaccessible sailing is for a lot of people,” Mann said.

“We live in such a beautiful area and we have such a rich maritime history, but you’d be surprised the number of kids we talk to who’ve never even been on the water, let alone sailing,” he said.

From that grew the idea to make sailing accessible to any young person who wants to give it a try.

So far, Sail All is only on the South Shore, but Mann said there has been so much interest from other boat clubs that he’s holding an open house next week and hopes to see it spread across the province.

Kids don’t have to pay anything to take part, thanks to the support of the club, local companies, grants and sponsorships. Several of the instructors also volunteer their time, including Mann.

He fits in his commitment to Sail All between his shifts with the coast guard’s inshore rescue program. He works one week on and one week off, but even on the weeks he works, Mann can be found at the Lunenburg Yacht Club every morning, ensuring everything’s in place before heading to his paying job in Mahone Bay.

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