11 Jun 2014

Ainslie leads UK bid for Americas Cup

5:51 am on 11 June 2014

The four-time Olympic sailing gold medallist Ben Ainslie will lead an 160-million dollar British challenge for the 35th America's Cup in 2017, aiming to return sport's oldest trophy to his country for the first time.

The 37 year old Olympic sailing legend helped inspire one of the great sporting comebacks last year when Oracle rallied from 8-1 down to defeat Team New Zealand 9-8 and land the trophy.

There has long been speculation that Ainslie planned to lead an America's Cup challenge, but he had been awaiting the protocols or guidelines and also putting together the funding and crew.

The venue for the 2017 regatta has yet to be confirmed, but new protocols, including nationality requirements, have been negotiated by software billionaire Larry Ellison, owner of Oracle, and Team Australia's Hamilton Island Yacht Club, the Challenger of Record.

Among the new protocols, the next Cup will be sailed by in a smaller version of the 72-foot, wing-sail catamarans used last year, with crews of eight, three fewer than last year.