Sir Ben Ainslie: ‘We’ll have a lasting impact on Portsmouth’

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HIS passion and determination to bring the America’s Cup back to the Solent waters is already having an impact in Portsmouth.

In just eight months the Camber Dock in Old Portsmouth has already gone some way into being transformed into the new headquarters of Sir Ben Ainslie’s bid to bring home the coveted cup.

Sir Ben Ainslie.''Picture: Sarah Standing (150274-1633)

Sir Ben Ainslie.''Picture: Sarah Standing (150274-1633)

Now the Olympic gold medallist says Portsmouth should gear up for July as it’s going to be a big month for the city, as it will be the focus of a qualifying round called the world series.

He said: ‘July is going to be a big deal – that’s when we have the first world stage for the America’s Cup.

‘We will be launching the visitors’ centre and there will be a race village.

‘People will be able to watch the sailing from Southsea Common and there will be so much excitement and buzz.

‘We’re training and working hard to make sure we can bring the cup back home.’

The sailor founded Ben Ainslie Racing to build a British challenge for the 35th America’s Cup in 2017.

He wants to bring the oldest international sporting trophy back to Britain for the first time since the contest began in 1851 with a race around the Isle of Wight.

So far the four-time gold medallist has 63 people for what will be his 90-strong team that will be competing for the challenge.

He added: ‘We have been working fast and have already completed the shell of the building.

‘But I don’t want it to be just about this race, I also want it to be about providing training and education so younger people can find out about the different aspects of sailing through the 1851 Trust.’

Sir Ben said the presence of his race base in Old Portsmouth could contribute to 1,000 new jobs being created and pump more than £44m into the local economy – which happened in Auckland, New Zealand, when its national racing team moved there.

It’s something entrepreneur Sir Keith Mills also sees and agrees will bring a big boost to the city.

Sir Keith said: ‘We’ve gone from nothing to getting a base built and a team put together for the challenge in just 12 months.

‘We have made great progress and it will be of massive benefit to the city.

‘Like London was the focus for the Olympic games, so Portsmouth will be the focus for people all over the country in July.

‘The proof that this will be beneficial for the city is in looking at Auckland in New Zealand.

‘After they won the America’s Cup there was a lot of money for regeneration work.

‘There was renovation of Auckland Harbour and a massive boost to the marine industry.

‘It now has one of the leading marine industries in the world and we can do that in Portsmouth.’

The world series four-day event kicks off on Thursday, July 26, which will be the formal launch of the race.

On Friday people will be able to watch the teams train along the seafront opposite Southsea Common.

Then on Saturday and Sunday afternoon the races will take place.

The route will see up to seven competing teams from around the world race in the Solent from Clarence Pier up to Gunwharf Quays and back again.

People can pack the common and watch the event free, or buy passes to get into the race village, which will be similar to the Olympic village.

The other locations for the world series are Cagliari, in Italy; Gothenburg in Sweden; and Bermuda, which will also be the host for the America’s Cup in 2017.

If Ben Ainslie Racing wins it will be the first time in 150 years that the trophy will be back in this country.