Sir Ben Ainslie has hit out at the costs of contesting the America’s Cup, saying it is hindering the spread of the sport’s glamour event.
Ainslie, heading the British syndicate for a second time as they navigate towards Auckland 2021, speaks from a position of strength as he enjoys the backing of Britain’s wealthiest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, for his Team INEOS UK challenge.
But having such financial security doesn’t stop Ainslie’s concerns with Auckland 2021 having just defender Emirates Team New Zealand and three, possibly four, challengers.
“We should be looking at 10 teams – that would be ideal,” Ainslie told The Financial Times, pointing the finger at the highly technical new foiling 75-foot monohulls introduced for the next edition.
“If you ask any of the team principals, they would agree this particular boat is too expensive. For a new team looking to get involved, it is quite daunting.”
Sir Ben says, however, it is a “common misconception” that the biggest budget wins. That is borne out by the success of Team New Zealand, founded in 1993 and three-times winner of the cup. It is backed by commercial sponsors rather than a wealthy individual. Sir Ben says big budgets allow teams to try out “some crazy design ideas, because you can test so many different parameters”. However, “having a budget to stick to means you can focus on where you are going to get bang for your buck”.