big ben, little leak
Rumors of the UK’s biggest sailing star hitting the America’s Cup are nothing new, though the past two weeks have added plenty of kindling to a fire that British sailing fans would be happy to stoke.
And happy they will be, as Oracle Racing confirmed Big Bad Ben’s and his country’s entry into AC34 yesterday when they unwittingly posted a promotional video for “Ben Ainslie Racing” to their Youtube page. The video was quickly removed, but not quickly enough for Anarchist Rennmaus, who grabbed this screenshot mockup of the BAR racing 45 and the logo.
We reached out to Big Bad’s PR folks, and while they had no comment, less than three hours after our call, they released an alert that Ben’s big announcement would come on Tuesday, live streamed via the internet. So what, exactly, is the announcement? Our sources have laid the plan out pretty well:
1) Ben Ainslie Racing will be British-flagged and supported, though the biggest source of funding is a stealthy one. We could speculate that longtime Ben supporter Keith Mills is paying the bills quietly, so as to save face after his pram-throwing exit from the Cup last year, but that runs more under “wild ass guess” than verified facts. What’s more certain is that Oracle Racing is probably in for a penny AND in for a pound in the new team, having paid Ben a tidy sum to NOT join any other teams.
2) Ben Ainslie Racing will serve as Oracle Racing’s “Surrogate” for the AC72 much as Luna Rossa is playing for the ETNZ team. Oracle knew that the ETNZ/LR collaboration would hurt Oracle’s chances for the Cup repeat, and they already had Ben on ice as a ‘consultant’, so taking the next step was a natural one. While we don’t know just how deep Oracle tendrils penetrate into the BAR team, we’re guessing they are pretty cozy…
3) The new BAR will be managed by Alinghi super boss Grant Simmer, and the team will include the same Olympic afterguard as Team Origin – namely Bart Simpson and Iain Percy.
Look for the official press conference right here on SA on Tuesday morning (GMT), and speculate as much as you like in the British AC thread here.