Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ben Ainslie talks to Peter Montgomery about the America's Cup

Ben Ainslie, the three-time Olympic gold medalist and Team Origin helmsman, was in Auckland during the last weekend, racing in the NZ Match Racing Championships, where he finished second, after being beaten in the finals by his form teammate Dean Barker.

The differences between match and fleet racing were the first issue touched in the interview but then moved to the Louis Vuitton Pacific series, the match race event that will take place in Auckland next February. According to Ainslie, Team Origin has assembled a "great sailing team" that looks forward to racing. For him and the rest of the team it's great to "get back on the water where we should be racing rather than sitting around in law courts".

Team Origin has a "good mixture" of nationalities -including New Zealanders, Australians and French- but it is still a predominantly British crew with Iain Percy, twice gold Olympic medalist, and Andrew Simpson among others.

As it was expected, Peter Montgomery asked Ainslie to give his take on the current situation in the America's Cup. For Ainslie it is a "massively frustrating" situation, especially for sailors of his generation that are deprived from the possibility to do any America's Cup racing.

According to Ainslie, up to recently one "could understand BMW Oracle's arguments the Protocol wasn't fair". Still he questions the motives the American team now has, since in his view "the current offer for a resolution is in some ways better than the 32nd Protocol".

He sees it as "12 independent teams" coming together, talking and developing a new boat class while "there is one team that doesn't want to be part of that, stalling the whole thing. That's BMW Oracle. You do have to start questioning what the agenda is, if there is another agenda hidden". He has a "tremendous" amount of respect for Russell Coutts and considers him a true legend of the America's Cup but states that "with BMW Oracle you're never sure who's running the show".

For Ainslie, both Alinghi and BMW Oracle "have a responsibility to the sport" and both teams "look bad" with the legal procedure going on for so long. As a result, the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series will be a way to fill the gap and provide an opportunity to race.

You can listen to the entire 8-minute interview using our standard MP3 player. [Note: If you have problems with the audio file, you can download it here]

MP3 file of Ben Ainslie's interview

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