Ben Ainslie Racing receives $12.8 million funding boost from British government
Money will be used to fund new training and design facility in Portsmouth, England
Olympic gold-medal winner Ainslie aims to enter British team into 2017 America's Cup
After gaining the royal seal of approval from the Duchess of Cambridge last month, Ben Ainslie’s bid to bring the America’s Cup to Britain for the first time in the competition’s history has secured another important boost.
The British government announced Tuesday that it would provide £7.5million ($12.8 million) of funding towards supporting the Ben Ainslie Racing team (BAR) and their new state-of-the-art base in the city of Portsmouth on the UK’s south coast.
The news was widely expected after reports hinted as much in the British press over the weekend and follows on from Portsmouth City Council’s decision to give planning approval for the site of the new base.
A British team has never won the 163-year-old competition despite hosting the first ever America’s Cup on its shores in 1851.
Ainslie, the most successful Olympic sailor of all time and winner of the America’s Cup in 2013 with Oracle Team USA, now hopes to change all that with his own organization when the prestigious event is next held in 2017.
Speaking alongside British prime minister David Cameron, Ainslie said he wanted to create a new sailing institution and legacy for the UK.
“We hope through our journey to bring the cup home to Britain we will inspire more young people to get involved in the sport, along with supporting the growth of the marine sector in the Solent area,” he said.
Cameron, meanwhile, focused on the potential economic benefits the project could bring to Portsmouth.
“(This project) will not only build on Portsmouth’s global reputation as a center of marine and maritime excellence but will also deliver a real sporting and economic boost to the UK,” he said.
According to promotional material from BAR, the new headquarters will employ around 90 people directly.
The base will become the focal point for the design, construction and development of the team’s boats and will also provide sports science and fitness facilities.
Making the venture financially sustainable and attractive to potential investors will be vital if BAR want to compete with Oracle, which is funded by U.S. billionaire Larry Ellison.
Speaking to CNN last month, Ainslie said that BAR wouldn’t be working with “Ellison’s budget, so we have to be very focused with the money we have.”
However, he added: “We’ve never won it. We have a huge maritime history. We have to bring this thing home.”
Construction work on the new base will start immediately, with planned completion in May 2015, the team said.