Ainslie Contemplates Next Move
Ainslie Contemplates Next Move
His dream of winning the America’s Cup for Great Britain scuttled, Ben Ainslie takes aim at his fourth Olympic gold medal.
How difficult would it be for you to become a top multihull helmsman?
Although it would be a steep learning curve to become a top multihull sailor, it takes 18-months to two years, I think. It might be more expensive to start over and train sailors to become multihull experts. But if you start going out in the A class cats, after a good year of racing you are going to improve a lot. It is important to get out in them and race. Getting that experience and exposure is key.
Will multihull sailing gain a little more prestige with the America’s Cup moving to a 72-foot catamaran?
There was a feeling in the past about multihull sailors not being as steeped in the traditions of sailing, or being as good at match racing. That will change. Plus, the level of skill in multihulls will change quite a lot as more and more top sailors will probably move over from monohulls.
Russell Coutts and Larry Ellison are promising a revolution for the America’s Cup. What do you think of their vision for the future of sailing?
My biggest concern as a professional sailor is that there has been a huge push to commercialize our sport. I fear that in the near future the races will have to fit into a 35-minute television schedule, that if the race won’t be over in 30 minutes, they won’t even race it. It is not really the way for sailors to compete.
What is the future of monohull match racing?
Obviously there are lots of opinions about where match racing is going now that the America’s Cup has switched to multihulls. We will all have to wait and see. I love this kind of match racing, especially here in Bermuda. It is a lot more classic match racing with evenly matched boats and tough conditions on the racecourse, requiring tactics and match-racing skills. The traditional events like the Argo Group Gold Cup are really important to the sport.
Your father was a Whitbread sailor; do you have any desire to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race?
The biggest goal in my life has been the Olympics, but I certainly do see the Volvo as a goal of mine, too. It is an endurance game and holding a team together, making a fast boat win in one of those races, is an achievement in itself and is not something I would rule out.
You took a phone call from Russell Coutts just after Sir Keith’s announcement? Did he offer you a job? Will he offer you a job?
No. He just called to find out what had happened, what was going on. It seems like they were as surprised about TeamOrigin dropping out of the competition as we were.
“Match racing is best when it is more akin to a chess game with the boats are evenly matched. Instead of depending on pure boat speed a slower boat can win a race with superior tactics and rules application. Take that away, and I'm not sure what we have left except two extremely fast, extremely expensive multihulls tearing around the course.”
—Royal Bermuda YC commodore and international match-race judge Peter Shrubb on the switch to multihulls for the 34th America’s Cup.