Sailing-Thrilling America's Cup a boon for the sport - Ainslie

Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:47am EDT
 
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By Justin Palmer

LONDON (Reuters) - The thrilling climax to the America's Cup in San Francisco has put the event and sailing "in a strong place commercially", according to Oracle Team USA tactician Ben Ainslie.

An unlikely comeback by Oracle was capped in the winner-takes-all 19th race on Wednesday when they triumphed after trailing Emirates Team New Zealand 8-1, a stirring comeback that gripped the sporting world for days.

Having had "a little bit of sleep after a good party", Britain's four-times Olympic champion Ainslie said Oracle's battle with the New Zealand team - on giant high-speed catamarans barely skimming the surface in the natural amphitheatre of San Francisco Bay - had riveted a global audience.

"It's been great for the sport, great for the America's Cup and great for the future of sailing," he told Reuters on Thursday before boarding a flight to meet up with friends in New York.

"The number of messages I've had from all round the world and especially from home. People have been blown away by the footage of these boats. People who would not have watched sailing before have now taken to it."

The San Francisco event, with faster yachts that produced the drama that eventually unfolded after what had appeared to be a one-sided series, Ainslie said, had shown it was tailor-made for television.

"It's becoming more and more commercially viable, we've now got the TV networks interested in sailing, wanting to show the America's Cup.

"It's a very strong place for us to be commercially now - going forward selling to partners and bringing the costs down to have more teams involved in the future. I know that is one of (Oracle Team USA owner) Larry Ellison's goals."   Continued...

 
Oracle Team USA tactician Ben Ainslie speaks to members of the media after winning Race 18 of the 34th America's Cup yacht sailing race against Emirates Team New Zealand in San Francisco, California September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam