Portsmouth to host Ainslie team's races

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 25, 2014 6:32 AM

By Alexander Smith

LONDON (Reuters) - Portsmouth, an historic naval town on the south coast of England, will host America's Cup World Series sailing races in Britain in 2015 and 2016 as part of the build-up to the main event in 2017.

British challenger Ben Ainslie is building a base in Portsmouth for his Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) team, which aims to win the America's Cup in 2017 and bring the "Auld Mug" back to Britain for the first time since it was held in 1851 in the waters of the Solent off the south coast of England.

"This is about righting a wrong... we have to bring it back," Ainslie told reporters on Tuesday.

The America's Cup World Series events will be held around the globe among the teams aiming to take on America's Cup holder Team Oracle USA. Ainslie won the America's Cup with Larry Ellison's Oracle in 2013.

In the build-up event the teams will sail in hi-tech 45 foot long "foiling" catamarans which rise dramatically out of the water as they gather pace, reaching speeds which cannot be attained in single-hulled boats.

Ainslie said the AC45s shooting past the shoreline at speeds of 40 miles per hour would provide a great spectacle.

"It's going to be full on... absolutely amazing to watch," Ainslie said.

The choice of Portsmouth as the venue was announced by entrepreneur Keith Mills, who is backing Ainslie's bid to win the America's Cup.

Ainslie became the most successful ever Olympic sailor in 2012 when he brought his tally of medals to four golds and one silver over five consecutive games.

The choice of venue for the 35th America's Cup, either San Diego or Bermuda, will be announced on Dec. 2, Ainslie said, adding that the British team would prefer Bermuda given its connections with the UK.

BAR is seeking 80 million pounds ($125.4 million) in funding for its America's Cup campaign and has signed up private sponsors. It was yet to announce a lead commercial sponsor but hopes to do so once the venue for the America's Cup, which will be raced in larger catamarans, has been decided.

Points gained in the America's Cup World Series will affect the seeding and starting scores for the challenger teams in 2017.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)