Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie pays tribute to Portsmouth in open letter to city

Sir Ben Ainslie
Sir Ben Ainslie

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SAILOR Sir Ben Ainslie has paid tribute to the people of Portsmouth in supporting him in his vision to win the America’s Cup – and change the lives of young people across Portsmouth.

In an open letter to the region about his thoughts on a ‘fantastic’ 2016, the Land Rover BAR skipper praised the public for getting behind his ‘vision’ to provide opportunities for children to take up the sport and develop a passion for science and technology.

When we set up the Trust, I was determined to use the excitement of Land Rover BAR’s challenge to win the America’s Cup to engage and inspire young people about the range of opportunities available to them.

Sir Ben Ainslie

And he reflected on his team’s success as they came out winners in this summer’s Portsmouth America’s Cup World Series, which combined with the presence of Sir Ben’s sailing empire in the city, has pulled in £39m of economic benefits.

Sir Ben, who hopes to steer his team to further glory and bring the America’s Cup back to Britain in next year’s finals in Bermuda, said: ‘This year has been a fantastic year for the 1851 Trust.

‘When we set up the trust, I was determined to use the excitement of Land Rover BAR’s challenge to win the America’s Cup to engage and inspire young people about the range of opportunities available to them.

‘I am proud to be patron of an organisation which is helping us achieve this vision. This year alone we have welcomed hundreds of young people from Portsmouth and the surrounding areas through the doors of Land Rover BAR’s base.

‘Whether it was visiting the Tech Deck to experience some of the real-world challenges Land Rover BAR face in their bid to bring the cup home or giving sailing a go for the first time, I hope that it has made them aware of the range of opportunities available to them.

‘We also launched our BT Stem Crew programme to schools across the UK – helping develop thousands of young people’s science and technology skills, and opening their eyes to the opportunities of Stem careers.

‘We know that a lot of this work wouldn’t be possible without our partners – so thank you all for your continued support.

‘And on a personal note, I couldn’t be prouder that Land Rover BAR has finished its year as champions of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series. We know there is a lot of work to do ahead of the America’s Cup next year but 2016 was a fantastic year for the team. Thanks again for all your support and have a lovely new year.’

This year also saw the Duchess of Cambridge open Land Rover Bar’s Tech Deck and Education Centre, at the Camber.

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, praised the relationship between Sir Ben’s sailing enterprise and the city.

Cllr Jones said: ‘The relationship between Portsmouth, the people and the British America’s cup team, headed up by Sir Ben Ainslie, is a really important one.

‘When Sir Ben and his team decided to base themselves in Portsmouth, that decision was one they knew would span in excess of a 10-year period.

‘The city and its people have supported Sir Ben and the building of the base at the Camber.

‘We have supported him through the America’s Cup World Series in 2015 and 2016 and the people have got behind the aspiration to bring the cup home.’

Cllr Jones added: ‘On a personal level, I wasn’t particularly well aware of the rules around the World Series and the America’s Cup final until the British team arrived. Then, I went on a quick learning journey to understand how the cup works.’