Sir Ben Ainslie confirms Portsmouth stay despite America’s Cup rules shake-up

Ben Ainslie at the Land Rover BAR headquarters in Old Portsmouth
  • ‘We have no intention of leaving Portsmouth’ says Sir Ben
  • America’s Cup rules shake-up led to concerns over how team would manage
  • Skipper says 2020 return for tournament and that Solent is ‘deep enough’ for monohulls

LAND ROVER BAR are staying in Portsmouth despite a radical shake-up in the rules of the America’s Cup, Sir Ben Ainslie has confirmed.

The Olympic sailor confirmed that his team would be staying at their base in The Camber for the foreseeable future despite admitting that ‘adjustments’ would need to be made to accommodate the new design of boats.

Sir Ben Ainslie with pupils from Ark Charter Academy, and, right,Ben Cartledge, CEO of the 1851 Trust ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (171012-5213)

America’s Cup holders Team New Zealand revealed in the protocol for the next tournament that vessels would switch from 50ft catamarans to 75ft monohulls.

It led to questions being raised about the suitability of racing on the Solent and the impact it would have on the team’s headquarters.

Sir Ben exclusively told The News: ‘We have no intentions of leaving Portsmouth.

‘We had heard rumours about the monohulls but we are very comfortable with the sailing aspect of it and there are a lot of conversations now happening behind the scenes to figure out how best to approach the new rules.

There are question marks about how we will be able to dock the boats and we are working on a plan to make adjustments

Sir Ben Ainslie, team skipper for Land Rover BAR

‘There are question marks about how we will be able to dock the boats and we are working on a plan to make adjustments.’

Alan Priddy, a Portsmouth sailing star, had voiced his doubts about the suitability of the Solent for racing but Sir Ben poured could water on those fears.

He said: ‘The Solent is certainly deep enough for the monohulls and we’d love to host a regatta in Portsmouth in 2020 as it has been a fantastic location and the last two events were hugely successful. There are many very good reasons to host another event here.’

Sir Ben was speaking after delivering an inspiring speech to youngsters from Ark Charter Academy at Portsmouth Watersports Centre on Thursday.

The day was organised by education charities The 1851 Trust, the team’s official charity and Teach First.

Following the talk, Sir Ben headed out with the schoolchildren into Langstone Harbour for a sailing tutorial – which was part of the trust’s Go Sail programme.

He added on the talk: ‘It has been fantastic to spend time with the students today and see them put their classroom learning into practice.

‘Since we set ourselves up in Portsmouth, we have definitely seen an increase in the number of young sailors heading out on the Solent which is really rewarding.’

James Westhead, executive director for Teach First added: ‘I want to thank Sir Ben who has taken time out of his busy schedule to inform and inspire the pupils.’

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