COR 36 | Studio Borlenghi
Emirates Team New Zealand and INEOS Team UK at close quarters during racing in Auckland.
Speculation continues to mount of Sir Ben Ainslie’s British team becoming the next challenger of record if Team New Zealand hold on to the America’s Cup.
Respected specialist yachting website Live Sail Die suggests a deal has already been done between the two teams, ensuring continuity for the radical AC75 foiling monohull class.
Stuff reported in early January that Ainslie’s INEOS Team UK were emerging as a likely partner with the Kiwis to take the Cup forward.
Sir Ben Ainslie whose team has been pinged once for a technical breach, will lose a race for any further breach
The Times of London has also reported that the British could have a say in the future of the America’s Cup with Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton confirming to them that he is interested in linking up with INEOS Team UK.
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Team New Zealand have fallen out with current challenger of record Luna Rossa of Italy, while American Magic’s backers at the New York Yacht Club have stated their preference would be a return to non-foiling displacement monohulls.
That leaves the British as the obvious alternative for a partnership with Team New Zealand to shape the future of the competition.
Live Sail Die reported they “understand that there is strong agreement between the two teams about the future of the America’s Cup and the importance of foiling in that future.
“It is also understood that the current AC75 class will be kept, with the possibility of selling boats to other challengers. This would allow for further development of the radical new class and make it more economic to mount a challenge.
“As part of the agreement, there are plans for some sort of ‘World Series Tour’ in the northern hemisphere in the years before the challenger series and America’s Cup.
“Doing so would make the America’s Cup more commercially viable and also give the teams much greater opportunity to further develop the boats.”
The website felt a proper World Series Tour would replace the need to take the America’s Cup away from New Zealand if the Kiwis retain the Auld Mug, as has been suggested elsewhere.
The partnership deal is reliant on Team New Zealand retaining the America’s Cup in the match that starts on March 6.
Ainslie will be doing everything he can to put a British name on the Auld Mug for the first time with his team still in the hunt.
INEOS Team UK take on Luna Rossa in the Prada Cup challengers final that starts on Saturday.
The winner of that best of 13 race series will go on to race against Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup.
The continuing speculation around the British and New Zealand partnership will certainly spice up the Prada Cup final.
Both teams will surely play down the waterfront talk with so much currently on their plates – the Brits desperate to beat the Italians and the Kiwis working so hard by themselves to prepare for their defence.
In this episode, The Detail mingles with the fans on race day, looks at how the public money is being spent and how it compares to previous America’s Cups.
But the alliance looks the most logical outcome as the America’s Cup tries to build on the success and potential of the current boats that are now regularly exceeding 50 knots.
Outspoken British yachting pundit Magnus Wheatley has picked up on the speculation in his Rule69 blog, writing on Wednesday: “It is simply fantastic news for British supporters but one almighty kick into touch for the Italians at the most inopportune time just ahead of the Prada Cup Final this weekend.
“It’s the fire we warned about. Just wait for the fury on the water. It just couldn’t be better timing for the British to upset and usurp Luna Rossa who haven’t clicked in Auckland with an approach and a strategy that has been curious to say the least.
“The real story is that to be challenger of record, means a commitment from Sir Jim Ratcliffe to go again and as British fans that is just the most electric news to come from this Cup. Win or lose, Ineos stays in.”