The Ben Ainslie Racing AC team. The whole thing is a bit baffling to AC watchers, as until just a couple of days ago, the month’s hottest rumor was that of Ben being guaranteed a post-Olympic spot as the full time Oracle B-boat driver, with an honest chance to win the Defender helmsman spot from Spithill should he prove up to the task.
If the rumors were correct as to both the previous arrangement and the new one, why the big change? Did a mysterious and rich geezer emerge from the Underground, money bags in hand, and decide to throw a few dozens of millions of pounds at a British challenger for supremacy of the seas? Or are we just seeing Coutts move his shiny new rook into position to counter ETNZ’s Prada-adorned queen, who’s been off the back row for more than a month now? Speculation goes over here, but you can watch the press conference right here on our page at 1000 GMT/0500 EST/0200 PST.
UPDATE: AC rule watcher “seis” grabbed and analyzed a new AC34 Jury decision today that may shed some light on the potential Oracle-allied Ben Ainslie Racing team. The decision was a response to an ETNZ-filed claim back on December 21st after ACRM introduced what we called the Dalton Amendment to the Protocol, and it led Dalton to question why 5 of the 9 AC teams were allowed to vote on AC34 protocol items even though they still hadn’t paid their entry fees and otherwise complied with entry requirements for the America’s Cup. Well, the Jury largely agreed with Dalton in a decision seen by the teams barely a week ago, leaving in place a voting deadlock between the four paid-up Cuppers: ETNZ-Luna Rossa vs. Oracle-Artemis.
A couple of days later, a hastily put together slideshow promo for Ben Ainslie Racing appears on Oracle Racing’s Youtube page, and the next day, Ben’s publicist announces a live streaming press conference about “Ben’s future following the Olympics” that is likely to include a new AC team.
Rook takes Queen.