, 2022-02-25 02:00:00,
Sir Ben Ainslie reports on his America’s Cup and SailGP plans and predicts how Formula One insights will help INEOS Britannia’s bid for victory.
It’s hard to keep track of what’s happened since my last update for BOAT International, but needless to say 2021 was a hell of a year for all of us – in many ways.
When I signed off last April, we were just off the back of New Zealand’s defence of the America’s Cup. As Challenger of Record, we had the responsibility of agreeing the protocol and class rule for the next edition of the Cup, AC37. The deadline for announcing the protocol was November 2021 and you’d be forgiven for thinking that eight months would be ample time to get our heads together with the Kiwis to agree a pathway. The reality was, while we agreed on so many key areas there were inevitably a few points where competitive instinct and fairness caused something of a stalemate. We finally agreed on the document at the eleventh hour, but it’s a protocol and set of rules that both teams are proud to stand by.
I take my hat off to Grant Dalton and Team New Zealand for their open and direct approach to finding an agreement. It wasn’t straightforward but the strength of our relationship enabled us to find a compromise when we could have so easily derailed the whole deal. The protocol is certainly bold and progressive. For those that don’t follow the Cup that closely, the standout elements are the first outright Women’s America’s Cup, the return of the Youth America’s Cup (both of which will be sailed in a new AC40 foiling monohull), the retention of the AC75 class for the actual America’s Cup (the venue and dates will be announced on 31 March) and the development of hydrogen-powered foiling chase boats.
Providing diversity and a pathway programme is an absolute no-brainer for this area of the sport. The positive impact for the hydrogen-powered foiling chase boats is clearly also an area where our sport can, and should, do more, and it’s exciting to see new technologies coming to the fore thanks to intellectual property developed via the America’s Cup.
The SailGP fleet in action in Denmark, August 2021
Credit: Ricardo Pinto for SailGP
The new Britannia
In October we relaunched our America’s Cup team as INEOS Britannia. We are clearly proud of our maritime heritage in the UK and Britannia has such an iconic history that we would love to build on. The support of Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the team at INEOS has been…
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