Ben Ainslie: Disappointing to be out of the Cup - Great to be back Finn Training
[Source: Ben Ainslie] The decision to pull TEAM ORIGIN out of entering and competing for the Americas Cup was obviously extremely disappointing. For some of us it has been three years of work, getting the team to a position where we had a strong core group to move forward, with enough talent and experience to have a realistic shot at winning. Personally, the biggest disappointment is losing the opportunity to work with such a strong group of people and despite the relative failure it has been a huge learning experience. The Cup is still a huge ambition of mine and the lessons learnt from this period will definitely be of use in future campaigns.
It was a bold move by BMW Oracle to move the America's Cup into the realm of multihulls with wing sails; I believe a large part of this decision was to do with the ongoing commercialisation in the sport of sailing. This is something that sailing, like other sports, is going through and whilst I fully accept the need to make our sport more spectator friendly and commercially viable, there is also a danger of taking away the essence of the true sporting challenge. There is a very fine balance between the two and I honestly hope the 34th America's Cup manages to develop great racing which encapsulates the media and sailing audience. It will be a new era for the Cup, it's vital that the teams involved are properly supported to give the event the credibility that it badly needs.
Obviously, not challenging for the America's Cup has made my life a lot simpler with regard to my goal of racing in the 2012 Olympics. Before we knew what the plans for the next Cup were, I had tentatively talked about Finn training in Southern Europe during this winter with the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta in late January probably my next event. However, the unexpected change means I'm now heading to Australia next week to train and compete at the Perth International Regatta in November as well as at Sail Melbourne in D ecember.
Great to be back Finn Training
I have always really enjoyed going back into the Olympic environment and trying to be successful in 2012 is very much my focus now. With my coach David Howlett and Mark Andrews we've had a few days' Finn training at Weymouth and Portland, which has been great. We've been trying out new bits of kit and just getting used to the boat again as I've not been in a Finn since Sail for Gold Regatta in early August. There is genuinely always something a bit special about sailing at Weymouth, knowing that every time you get out on the water you are picking up as much information as you can about the conditions and what is going on around you. Weymouth's always a difficult place to sail so the more time you can spend there the better. Saying that it is getting pretty cold now and I need to get out on the water as much as possible, so being able to spend a couple of months in the breeze in Australia is going to be the best way for me to get my hiking legs and sailing fitness back up to where it needs to be for the Finn.
My British teammates Ed Wright and Giles Scott have both sailed really well this season, with Ed winning the World title and Giles winning Skandia Sail for Gold. These two guys in particular are going to be really tough to beat but competition of that level gives you an extra focus. I have some hard yards ahead of me to get to the required levels of sailing and fitness but there is something satisfying about pushing yourself harder with an end goal in sight. I'm fortunate to have a great coach in David Howlett and some fantastic sponsors like J.P. Morgan Asset Management behind me, support like that makes a huge difference.
Retaining the Gold Cup
It was nice to go out to the World Match Racing Tour event in Bermuda and retain our Argo Gold Cup. The team was Iain Percy, Christian Kamp, James Stagg and myself. The regatta started just days after the TEAM ORIGIN announcement, which was pretty tough as we were all still pretty disappointed. I was really pleased with how we dealt with the frustration and although we didn't sail brilliantly in the early rounds we saved our best sailing for the final.
That victory also means we can still win this year's World Match Racing Tour. The final event is in Malaysia at the start of December and we will go there sitting third in the standings. We have an outside chance of coming out on top and will be pushing hard for a good result at our final event under the TEAM ORIGIN colours.