America’s Cup - Sport

Ainslie urges Kiwis not to return to the ‘Dark Ages’

  • Foiling is the future: Ainslie is against a switch to monohulls

Sir Ben Ainslie, the Land Rover BAR skipper, believes the America’s Cup should stick largely to its present format, including the foiling multihull catamarans.

Ainslie said it would be a return to the “Dark Ages” if Emirates Team New Zealand, who snatched the Cup from Oracle Team USA with a 7-1 rout, switch to monohull boats at the next event. The BAR principle signed up to the framework agreement before the 35th America’s Cup — the Kiwis were the only team not to do so — and feels it would be a mistake to completely rip it up.

“I don’t have the fears that suddenly we’ll go to New Zealand ... and it’ll take the Cup back to the Dark Ages,” Ainslie told Reuters.

As the official challenger of record for the 36th America’s Cup, Italian syndicate Luna Rossa will now work with the Kiwis to plan the next event, which will likely be held in 2021.

In his column in the Telegraph newspaper, Ainslie wrote: “There are a lot of rumours flying around that the Italians are keen on monohulls.

“I think going back now would be a mistake given where we have got to in these foiling multihulls.

“No one wants to rip up all the good work which has been done and I would be surprised if [Team New Zealand] went completely back to the drawing board.

“They are a commercially-driven team, too. They know the importance of giving value to sponsors and partners. They want a decent number of teams to enter.”

The Kiwis are likely to bring in a rule about nationality quotas — seven of the nine Oracle crew hold Australian passports — with Ainslie agreeing that the syndicates should reflect the country they represent.

He also believes it would be unwise not to preserve and expand the World Series, an event BAR won in the lead-up to Bermuda.

“We know New Zealand have strong views about nationality quotas in terms of the crew and we support them on that,” Ainslie added.

“I know New Zealand have voiced concerns about the expanded World Series set out in the framework agreement but there needs to be some level of activation. I would hope and expect to see that. But now we need more details: what type of boat they envisage, when it is going to be, whether or not there will be some form of World Series between now and then.”

Ainslie, whose team reached the challenger playoff semi-finals at their first tilt at the America’s Cup, has called for a quick decision on the format to keep the momentum from Bermuda.

“Clearly everyone is on tenterhooks to find out what New Zealand have planned,” wrote Ainslie, whose team are already committed to the next event.

“I cannot really say anything as I have not yet spoken to Grant [Dalton, the Team Zealand chief executive] or any of their senior management beyond offering my congratulations.

“I am sure we will all sit down over the next few days — before everyone goes their separate ways — and try to understand where they intend to go from here.”