Ainslie forges links with the F1 fast lane

Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:06pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

PORTSMOUTH, England (Reuters) - If Ben Ainslie succeeds in his bid to bring the America's Cup back to Britain in 2017, it will be thanks also to engineers and designers who have helped the likes of Lewis Hamilton go faster in Formula One.

The four-times Olympic sailing gold medalist, whose team believe it is much more a case of when than if, has enlisted his country's motorsport and automotive industries as key allies.

"We've really gone for it in a major way but I'm absolutely certain that's the right approach," Ainslie told Reuters at his harbourside headquarters when asked about the motorsport connection.

"These boats now foil out of the water. There's very little in the water. It's about aerodynamics, it's about control systems, hydraulic systems and the automotive industry obviously lead the way."

Land Rover were announced on Wednesday as title sponsors of the team that has former McLaren Formula One team principal Martin Whitmarsh as chief executive.

Red Bull's Adrian Newey, the designer whose cars have won titles with three separate F1 teams, is involved while Prodrive -- the engineering company who have won world rally championships and run F1 teams -- are also on board.

Just recently, Whitmarsh recruited Richard Hopkirk -- previously one of double world champion Hamilton's race tacticians at McLaren before the Briton moved to Mercedes -- from Red Bull as head of simulation.

It is a deliberate move for Ainslie, whose wife Georgie also worked in Formula One as a television presenter, who said he realized when winning the Cup with Oracle Team USA in San Francisco in 2013 what needed to be done.   Continued...

America's Cup skipper Ben Ainslie from Ben Ainslie Racing poses with the America's Cup during a news conference introducing the 35th America's Cup, in London September 9, 2014. REUTERS/Daniel Leal-Olivas