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19 Jan 2018 16:36
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Sailing

    America's Cup like Formula One: Ainslie

    Sir Ben Ainslie admits he feels more like a Formula One driver than a sailor as he leads Land Rover BAR's revolutionary bid to win the America's Cup.


    Sir Ben Ainslie reckons he feels more like a Formula One driver than a sailor as he prepares for a self-driven bid to win the America's Cup.

    The four-time Olympic champion set up his own team - Land Rover BAR - in 2012 in an attempt to finally bring the Auld Mug back to Britain.

    The America's Cup was first staged in 1851 off the Isle of Wight and has never been won by a British boat, but a state-of-the-art approach could help end that drought in Bermuda this summer.

    The other challengers - Team New Zealand, Team France, Team Japan and Sweden's Artemis Racing - are developing their own technology and Ainslie insists much of the race now takes place in the factory.

    Land Rover BAR boasts Martin Whitmarsh, the former McLaren team principal, as its chief executive and his influence has clearly had an impact on Ainslie and the rest of the crew.

    Virtual reality simulators have helped hone their senses, while technological developments, including the 23.5 metres-high wingsail, have combined to create a boat capable of beating defending champions Team Oracle USA.

    The latest innovation is a bespoke steering wheel - designed by Land Rover engineers and shaped to fit helmsman Ainslie's hands - which will allow the R1 race boat to 'fly' above the water at speeds of up to 60mph on hydrofoils.

    "It's like Formula One on water, it's very high speed," said Ainslie, speaking in Bermuda's Royal Naval Dockyard, where the five other teams are also based.

    "When these boats turn the corners the g-force is serious. If someone has made a mistake in crossing the boat when you're making a turn they'll just get wiped off the side of the boat. They won't have a chance of staying on.

    "At those speeds, with those forces, with the technology, you feel like a racing car driver or a pilot - it's that sort of intensity. You have to be focused and on your game."

    Land Rover BAR are the first British team to challenge for the America's Cup in 16 years, but there is still a qualifying section to navigate.

    The Louis Vuitton Cup qualifiers - contested by the five challengers and the defender, Oracle Team USA - takes place in Bermuda between May 26 and June 3.

    The top four challengers will then advance to the semi-finals before a best-of-nine final - the winner of which will contest the 35th America's Cup on the mid-Atlantic island between June 17 and 27.


    NZN




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