America’s Cup winning sailor heads for Bermuda
Victorious America's Cup sailor Sir Ben Ainslie can hardly wait to return to the place where he achieved one of his early successes in the sport as a youngster.
The four-time Olympic gold medallist is due in Bermuda for next month's Argo Group Gold Cup regatta which he has won on two previous occasions.
Sir Ben, who was knighted by the Queen for his services to British sailing earlier this year, served as tactician on Larry Ellison's 72-foot cataraman Oracle Team USA that successfully defended the Auld Mug against challengers Emirates Team New Zealand.
The American entry overcame a seemingly insurmountable deficit to prevail 9-8 in the best-of-17 series that went down to the wire in San Francisco Bay earlier this week.
“It's been an amazing couple of weeks and I hope everyone in Bermuda enjoyed the comeback,” Sir Ben told The Royal Gazette. “We certainly had our backs to the wall there and it was a very difficult period for the whole team.
“We relied a lot on the support we received from San Francisco and around the world and I just want to say a huge thank you to all our supporters who supported us throughout the whole America's Cup which was a big deal for the sailing world.
“I think this America's Cup has really started something great for the future of the sport with all the youngsters watching. This is something they might want to be involved in 10-20 years and I think it's very exciting.”
Bermuda's waters have proven to be pristine hunting ground for Sir Ben.
He won the ISAF Youth World Championships during his first visit to these shores in 1995 and followed that success up with back to back wins in the Gold Cup in 2009 and 2010.
“I have some fantastic sailing memories of Bermuda and the first time I was racing there was at the Youth Championships in 1995 and since then the Gold Cup,” Sir Ben recalled. “We've had some great memories and great victories and really always enjoy the hospitality and sailing in Bermuda.
“We have a lot of good friends in Bermuda and we're really looking forward to being back there and racing on the harbour and enjoying some great sailing and competition. We're looking forward to Dark n Stormies and maybe the odd round of golf which are some of the other things Bermuda is famous for.
“I'm really excited about coming back to Bermuda and all of the guys (crew) are as well. We are going to have a great time.”
During his visit Sir Ben will stage a clinic for advanced Optimists sailors at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
“I'm going to be spending some time with the local Optimist kids and that's something all of us are always fond of,” he said. “Certainly I learned sailing in the Optimist and I always try and help out with the young kids so it should be good fun and I'm really looking forward to it.”
After spending months racing in the high performance AC72, Sir Ben is eager to reacquaint himself with the International One Design (IOD) sloop which will be used for the Gold Cup.
“It probably takes an AC72 30 seconds to get from one side of Hamilton Harbour whereas it's a bit different with the IOD,” he smiled. “It is one extreme to the other so it will be a lot of fun,
“The IOD are great boats for match racing which is what they are used for and we always love going to Bermuda for the boats and the style of racing.”
The Gold Cup will be held October 7-13 in Hamilton Harbour.