Americas Cup

Sir Ben has bigger balls than most

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 17.39.32Sir Ben Ainslie has announced he will be doing the Round the Island Race, the “Race”, in the JPMorgan AC45 catamaran.  It is not surprising as the Race has been sponsored for a number of years by JP Morgan, who are the sponsor of Ben’s AC45.

Ben summarises the reason behind entering: “It’s been a fantastic experience to race the AC45’s in the America’s Cup World Series, this was an opportunity to bring the boat to the UK to show the British public how dynamic and exciting these boat are. The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race provides the perfect opportunity to race the AC45 on an iconic course in Britain’s largest yacht Race”.

Big balls or big bills?

Whilst the AC45 may not be the smallest boat to be racing around the island – there are far smaller yachts – it is probably the one that is least well suited to the conditions found around the “back of the island”. A secret of the race is to make it happen as fast as possible and get it over with! The current multihull record of 3 hours 8 minutes and 29 seconds has stood since 2001, held by offshore legend Francis Joyon. It was very nearly beaten last year by the Multi 50 trimaran Actual, missing out by just 1min, 28secs.

Ben’s perspective on this is: “I’ve had a few people comment about going for the Race record, in order for the team to have any chance of getting close the record we would need to have the perfect conditions. We’re aiming to get round as quickly as possible but the most important is to race safely and have great fun, whatever happens after that is an added bonus”.

We have seen the video of Russell Coutts getting it wrong on Oracle, capsizing and falling through the wing (203k hits). In fact, Vince Casalaina who actually took the video is supporting the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup team which is sponsoring. But I digress. These AC45’s are notoriously difficult to sail and when you get it wrong the results can be very, very expensive. Depending on weather conditions, Ben and his crew will be maxed for over 3 hours, which is way longer than any America’s Cup race. This will put boat handling, fitness and strategy at a premium.

All British Team

Ben’s normal AC45 team has its fair share of Antipodeans, but it was only right and correct that the team will change to an all British crew for this one off Race and Ben is bringing in a group of experienced sailors. Mark Bulkeley (Head sail trimmer) and Matt Cornwall (Bowman) have a wealth of AC45 sailing experience competing for Team Korea and Artemis in the 2012 -13 America Cup World Series. Ben also won the World Match Racing Championship with Matt in 2010. The other two crew roles on board will be taken by Andrew Mills (Runner) and Mark Andrews (wing trimmer). Both sail as part of the British Sailing Team in the Finn Class and were training partners for Ben in the lead up to London 2012.

The first America’s Cup was raced clockwise around the Isle of Wight in 1851. A race originally called the “100 Guinea Cup” which was won by the New York yacht America which gave rise to the America’s Cup.

Spectacular – you bet.

The last event of the America’s Cup World Series has just finished in Naples. Ben disappointingly finishing the overall series in 3rd place with a troubled Naples event. But here they are only racing on a  course with 9 other boats, all of whom are driven by world-class sailors.  And even then there collisions. The Race has over 1,900 gifted, and not so gifted, amateurs many of whom only get out for this one event. Ben summarises: “The Round the Island is slightly different to the original Cup course as its counter clockwise and I will be racing against close to 1,900 other boats but never the less it will still be a fantastic opportunity to Race the new generation of Cup boats on the same waters over 160 years later”.

For J.P. Morgan this is a celebration of their commitment to the sport of sailing. Keith Evins commented: “We are very proud of our long standing sponsorship of both the Round the Island Race and Ben through his Olympic campaign and recently his new America’s Cup world Series team. It will be a fantastic spectacle for spectators and competitors seeing J.P. Morgan BAR racing around the iconic landmarks of the Isle of Wight.”