Interview: Ben Ainslie talks America’s Cup World Series, Portsmouth

It’s certainly not an everyday occurrence that you’re asked to interview an Olympic Gold medalist, let alone someone with four, yes four, of them sitting in their trophy cabinet.

Well, that was the daunting task for me. I took a break from my usual football talk, to speak with Britain’s very own Sir Ben Ainslie about the up and coming America’s Cup.

What are your first Sailing memories?

“I was 7 years old and my Dad pushed me off the beach in Cornwall where we used to live. I was in an Optimist, I had a duffle coat and wellington boots and it was Christmas day. I remember a tremendous sense of freedom being in a boat on my own for the first time!”

How did winning the Gold medal in home waters in 2012, compare to your other Olympic triumphs?

“There is a huge amount of pressure involved in competing at a home Olympic Games but it was incredible to win gold in front of such an enthusiastic and supportive crowd. For a sportsman there is no greater feeling than racing (and winning!) on home waters. Hearing the crowds cheering gives you such good energy and definitely helps to spur you on.”

America's Cup World Series

How did it feel to take part in the amazing 8-1 turn-around for Team Oracle USA during the 2013 America’s Cup?

“To beat Emirates Team New Zealand we had a mountain to climb. We needed to get the boat going faster and the designers did a great job and we started sailing better. This gave us the momentum and self-belief that we needed to win. I still believe that it was one of the greatest comebacks – certainly in sailing – and to be a part of that was a huge privilege.”

Does racing in home waters change how you prepare for a race?

“There is plenty of pressure competing at home but logistically for the team it makes life that easier, for starters we will be operating from our new team home right up to the event start. Where ever we race there will always be challenges but we will just take each race as it comes. The key thing, whether racing home or away is in the preparation, is that as a team you need to feel that you have done everything you can, mentally and physically, to be ready for the event.”

How does racing in difficult weather conditions affect your performance?

“The conditions absolutely play a part in a team’s performance on the water. We have a team Meteorologist that we work closely with so we can be as prepared as we can be going into racing. The conditions where we train, on The Solent, are comparable to those of Bermuda so training wise for us, it’s a good place to be based.”

America's Cup World Series

How important are competitions like the America’s Cup for inspiring young people to take up Sailing?

“They are definitely very important, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series comes to Portsmouth this month and young people on the across the South Coast have the opportunity to watch world-class sailing on their doorstep and hopefully, be excited by it. In 2014 the team launched the 1851 Trust, to aim to inspire and engage a new generation through sailing and the marine industry by looking at the STEM agenda and trying to make a difference in the Portsmouth area and eventually a national level.”

With the chance of securing Britain’s first ever America’s Cup victory 164 years after the competition began, does the thought of the America’s Cup being held in England boost your motivation for success?

“The biggest thing that motivates the team toward success is the fact that we feel we are in a strong position, both physically and technically, to succeed in bringing the Cup back to Britain. Racing in front of a home crowd will definitely have a motivational effect upon all of us, as will seeing the Cup here on British soil and we are all working hard to bring it home from Bermuda in 2017.”

Land Rover BAR is the team to bring the cup home. Watch the British Challenger for the 35th America’s Cup compete on home waters at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series 23 –26 July, book now at