Ainslie’s after the best of British

Ben Ainslie, centre, Paul Campbell-James and Nick Hutton onboard JP Morgan BAR in Cardiff last month   Picture: Lloyd Images
Ben Ainslie, centre, Paul Campbell-James and Nick Hutton onboard JP Morgan BAR in Cardiff last month Picture: Lloyd Images
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Ben Ainslie’s keeping a lot of balls in the air at the moment – not least the ongoing construction of his America’s Cup base at Camber Dock in Portsmouth.

Earlier this week at a London press conference, Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor said his dream of winning sport’s oldest international trophy – and then racing to defend it in the waters off Portsmouth – would be based on a combination of youth and experience.

‘We’re putting together a predominantly British sailing team – a mix of experience with guys who have been there and won the Cup a few times as well as some younger, home-grown talent that is coming through,’ he said at the conference, which included skippers from all the other challengers to date.

‘If we were going racing tomorrow, I would be steering the boat, but that might not be the same answer in a few years’ time.’

Ainslie said, as things stand, at least five of his eight-man crew will be British – a statement of intent in a sport where nationality counts less than hard-won experience.

‘We are a British team,’ he said.

‘That’s important to us that we are seen to be so.

‘We are very fortunate that it happens that the key guys we identified were British – both in the design and sailing front.

‘It’s about putting a group together and working out how the relationships work.’

Typically, in the convoluted world of the America’s Cup, the venue for the next event has not even been decided yet, though San Diego and Bermuda appear to be on the shortlist.

The first racing of the 35th America’s Cup will take place in 2015 in the America’s Cup World Series events, raced in a variety of locations in AC45 wingsail catamarans.

With that in mind, Ainslie will today be honing his multihull skills in the latest edition of the Extreme Sailing Series in Istanbul, Turkey.

His JP Morgan BAR team took their first podium finish of the series in Cardiff two weeks ago, and are clearly on an improving performance curve.

An overall win in the series is almost certainly out of reach, however, though south-coast star Leigh McMillan’s The Wave, Muscat, is only two points off the lead and will be hoping to dislodge leaders Alinghi during the three-day regatta on the Bosphorus Strait.

‘For sure, Cardiff has given us a boost,’ said McMillan of his winning performance in Wales.

‘The momentum has been with Alinghi all season and it is great to get one back off them and put the pressure back on.

‘Istanbul is going to be interesting, despite racing and winning there in 2012, it is going to be a new venue, so we will have to start with a fresh and open mind for the conditions and what to expect.

‘The prevailing wind was offshore and very gusty.

‘It keeps you on your toes, that’s for sure.’