By Alexander Smith
PORTSMOUTH (Reuters) – Ben Ainslie named his new multi-million dollar America’s Cup yacht “Britannia” on Friday, as he launched the revolutionary foiling AC75 he hopes will bring international sport’s oldest trophy back to Britain.
Ainslie’s INEOSTEAM UK is aiming to challenge Emirates Team New Zealand for the America’s Cup in Auckland in 2021 and the futuristic boat will soon be put through its paces on the waters of the Solent, near his base in Portsmouth, southern England.
INEOSTEAM UK is the fourth team after New York Yacht Club’s American Magic, the defenders Emirates Team New Zealand and Prada’s Luna Rossa to reveal its take on the design rules for the 36th America’s Cup.
The 2021 event will be contested in monohulls which will spend most of their time with their crews “flying” above the water, with only their foils submerged.
“We are desperate to get out on the water and put this boat through its paces,” Ainslie, Team Principal and Skipper of INEOSTEAM UK, said at the launch of “Britannia”, the first iteration of the yacht that will travel to Auckland.
With the financial backing of Jim Ratcliffe, the founder and chairman of British chemicals group INEOS, Ainslie is aiming to beat the other challengers for the cup to take on New Zealand.
“You can sail with pride under the name Britannia,” Ratcliffe said at the launch, before the torpedo-bowed black hull was lowered into the dock in Portsmouth.
INEOS, which also sponsors the cycling team formerly known as Team Sky, is pouring more than 110 million pounds ($136 million) into the venture with Ainslie with the aim of recouping the “Auld Mug”, which was first won in 1851 on the Solent by the schooner “America”.
Despite numerous efforts during the intervening years, no British crew has managed to win the cup, although Ainslie has tasted victory in the event, lifting the trophy when sailing as tactician on Oracle Team USA in San Francisco in 2013.
(Reporting by Alexander Smith; Editing by Toby Davis)