Ainslie's America's Cup Quest


Ainslie's America's Cup Quest

It is the oldest trophy in sport, yet no British team has ever won the America's Cup. Olympic legend Sir Ben Ainslie plans to change that.


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Now on BBC News, it's time for a special programme:

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Sir Ben Ainslie is the most successful sailor in Olympic

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history. But since the first race in 1851, no British team has ever won

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the America's Cup. Personally, I think everyone in this team it would

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be the biggest achievement if we could pull this off and win the

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America's Cup for Britain. It is 166 years to pursue a trophy that we

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made. We challenged the world to it. And we have never won it. Sometimes

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in life, there is a right time. This is the right time. This is the best

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chance Britain has ever had at winning the America's Cup. I think

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it is a very, very competitive sport. We have a lot of respect for

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each other. But we want nothing more than to kill each other on the

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water. It is as simple as that. If you are silly enough to win him up

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to that level where he feels like his back is against the wall, he

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will respond and the only way he knows how, which is to win on the

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water. Unless you are a Kiwi fan, that is a beautiful sights. 2013,

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San Francisco. Ben Ainslie, a tactician upon the Oracle. Heading

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to the finish-line. From 8-1 down, they staged one of the greatest

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comebacks in sporting history. The Americans, beating Team New Zealand

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9-8 in the final. The Stars and Stripes say it all. The comeback of

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2013 is complete. America's Cup will stay in America. It is the oldest

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trophy in international sport, and one of the rules is that the winner

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gets to decide when the next America's Cup will be held, and

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were. OracleW chose Bermuda. -- went. I have come to find out why 65

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members of Landrover BAR would move their lives and families to this

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tiny set of islands in the Atlantic. All of it is to change their

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skipper's dream. Come in. I guess you could say the America's Cup

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comes a license version. It is certainly very complex setting up a

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new team and getting the right skill sets. -- life obsession. Their

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recent sailing, design, technology management. It takes time. It takes

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time to get into a dominant position in the America's Cup. Are we allowed

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to film this? We're not allowed to film any of this. No one else will

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see. There is no other sailor in the world with a track record like Ben

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Ainslie. Ben Ainslie is well used to calling the shots, just not as a

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team principal. He sailed solo at five consecutive Olympics, winning

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medals at each of them, four were called. You are watching someone who

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has just become the greatest sailor in history. -- gold.

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Here, though, Ben Ainslie is in an unfamiliar role. His rookie team is

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the firm underdog. If we went racing tomorrow it would be a bit like

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turning up to a gunfight with a knife. I am confident we could be

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competitive. People will be surprised that are right now

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potentially writing us off. Speed is the order of the day in today's

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boats. But it hasn't always been this way. The boats were graceful,

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the outfits, impeccable. Look down her steel mast, see the beautiful

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lines of her hull. When the first challenge was held off the Isle of

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Wight in 1981, it was held by a schooner called America, giving the

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trophy its name. And though many tried, once the cup left Britain

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that year, it never returned. Britannia rules the waves, but

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someone forgot to tell the crew. Fast forward to today, though, and

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the boats are unrecognisable. The America's Cup class boats are built

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to a strict design role. They can reach speeds of 60 miles an hour,

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and are powered by just weeks sailor is. They are the smallest boats in

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the history of the cup. Six metres long, and the mast is 23.5 metres

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high. But the designers are allowed creativity in their designs. And

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that is where the fun starts. Espionage has long been a big part

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of the America's Cup. Teams attempt to gain a competitive edge by spying

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on their rivals. This year, most of the boats are powered by hand

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grinders. But New Zealand have opted for pedal power, which could result

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in greater speed. All of the boats, though, fly to the water on foils,

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using the same technology as an aircraft wing. Just as a win lifts

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the aircraft off the ground, the foils of the boat lifts the boat off

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the water. It doesn't always go to plan.

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Racing will take place in a natural harbour called The Great Sound, and

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I have come to see how Rita, as Ben Ainslie names all of his boats,

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looks out on the water. Wow. It is only when you see it close up what

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it is like. These are like planes. They glide on the water to be the

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aim is to not touch the water as much as possible, as it will

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minimise drag and make them go faster. It is just amazing to watch.

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ROCK MUSIC. This is the Formula 1 of sailing. I think in Formula 1, it is

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the pinnacle of motorsport. This is the pinnacle of sailing. Formula 1

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has the most technologically advanced cars in the world, and the

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same is said of the America's Cup with boats. Of course, they fly.

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CEO, Martin Whitmarsh, knows plenty about Formula 1, having been in the

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sport for 20 years. Many others with car engineering knowledge have also

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been brought into the team. And a base back in England at the

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headquarters of the team. It may not have the glamour of the need, but it

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is a vitally important piece of the puzzle. It is here in Portsmouth's

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historic dockyard were Rita was built. The designer is based they

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capture and examine all of the data sent back to them from Bermuda to

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Mission Control all in a bid to refine the systems of Rita. It has

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taken 85,000 man hours and ?110 million to get to this point.

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Personally, are you feeling a lot of pressure? We all do. But it is self

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generated. Everyone here is working late. Everyone here is doing their

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best to think of every idea we can and to deliver those ideas to be

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needed so that the guys can make the boat faster. The trick is to keep

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positive. If you let yourself get too much pressure, you will go

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backwards and make silly decisions. Jimmy Spittle could write the book

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on pressure. The look Jimmy Spittle's faced told the entire

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story. A skipper of the American team, Oracle, sailed with Ben

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Ainslie in the last campaign. They are just one bit away. They had to

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use every ounce of their sailing knowledge to engineer the greatest

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victory the sport has ever seen. Against all the odds, the comeback

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of the century is complete. From 8-1 down to an eventual 98 win, the

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sailing press may be dismissing the chances of Sir Ben Ainslie this

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year, but there is no way Spittle will. There is a lot of experience.

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Many people said we were taking a knife to the gunfight. Most people

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were saying at 8-1 it was over. Then we saw what happened. I think, in

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sport, the great thing about sport, is that you never know. I, for one,

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will not be discounting that team. Both of us are very, very

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competitive. We have a lot of respect for each other. But I want

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nothing more for us to kill each other on the water. It is as simple

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as that. I think the relationship has changed quite a lot since San

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Francisco for that very reason. You know, when you are a tee, it is a

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certain type of relationship. When you are competitor, it is a certain

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type of relationship. -- team-mate. It doesn't change respect for each

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other, but it is natural. You aren't counting them out just yet? Very

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unlikely. Jimmy may not be keen, but the cup organisers are. They are

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incredible talent. Their team is packed with sailing talent. The

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America's Cup needs a strong team from Britain. It is creating a lot

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of interest back there. I think Sir Ben Ainslie, if he wins this, he is

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obviously going to be... Become even more popular in the UK, and, you

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know, that's fantastic. He could become a king. King Ben, yes! That

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one might be impossible, even for an Olympic legend. But his team are

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certainly giving it a go. You know, seen the effort the guys are putting

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it the gym in other teams, you can see the actual determination they

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have. It is very special. Working for your country.

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Chasing the dream of becoming the first British team to win the

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America's Cup doesn't just require great sailors. Only elite athletes

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need apply for this most demanding of endeavours. These boats are

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essentially are powered by the sailors on board. We have no form of

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stored energy to be we don't have an engine. We are the engine. There is

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a helmsman. We produce all the power that is needed to move the foils and

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essentially get the boat going as as possible. The guys who provide that

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power need to build muscle. The other two roles are more like

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jockeys. They need to be as light as possible. With an overall weight

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limit, it is crucial the likes of Sir Ben Ainslie don't sneak

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chocolate on the side. During the Olympics, my weight was roughly 15

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kilos more than I am now. I haven't been this weight since I was about

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18 years old so be it has been a bit of a change, a bit of a challenge.

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But, you know, the physicality of these boats is immense. We obviously

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taken the fitness programmes very seriously. I think the whole team

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probably dislikes me a little bit for the nutrition we put in place.

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But, you know, that is just part of the level of the sport they are

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operating at. They cannot afford to take on a bad fitness regime, a bad

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beautician regime. We spent three years building 20 hours on the

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water. These guys are drink that if five hours a week of physical

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exercise. -- doing 35 hours. I don't think the athletes have ever had to

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be this bit. That fitness has been paying off.

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BAR won the World Series of races that built up to this event. Six

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teams are contesting the cup this year, not only from Britain and

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America but also Japan, France, New Zealand and Sweden. The deck,

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though, is skewed heavily in favour of the defending champions, in this

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case the Americans, Oracle, who are guaranteed a place in the final

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match. The qualifiers determine who will face them. Land Rover BAR will

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start with two bonus points for winning the World Series. Everyone

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braces against everyone twice, scoring one point per win. One team

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will be eliminated. Oracle skipped this part. Four teams go into two

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semifinals and then a play-off is held to find out which team will

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challenge Oracle in the first finale. The winner takes home the

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oldest trophy in sport. But with just days to go until the

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qualifiers begin, BAR has found real challenges with the design of their

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boat, compared to most of the others. Their straight-line speed is

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proving to be a real issue had as led to frustration. -- and has led.

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We have had over 1000 people on the boat. All of the strains and

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stresses get sent back to to get analysed and see what improvements

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we can make. If you unhappy with something to you then start

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shouting? There have been a couple of times when I have voiced my

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disapproval on a few things... Voiced disapproval, shouting? I

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don't think I have ever shouted yet. He told us he hasn't shouted yet.

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That's a massive lie! He has shouted at the dog a couple of times. He

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throws his helmet. Does he? The helmet disappears. Go on!

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This is Sir Ben's wife. She has moved with their young daughter,

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their two dogs and the kitchen sink to a rented house in Bermuda. Good

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girl! There is a great saying. Happy wife, happy life. I think that's

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very true. It is massive but when you marry a sailor who wants to

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compete in the America's Cup, you signup for it. It does amuse me

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because a lot of wives stress about it and you think, you know what you

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signed up for! This is the way of our lives. Georgie has clearly

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bought wholesale into her husband's dream. No one has a better insight

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into how he is dealing with being the underdog. He knows there is

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pressure and he understands the pressure. I don't think there's

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anyone better to deal with it or cope with it, but if you are silly

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enough to wind him up to the level where he feels like is back is

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against the wall, he will respond in the only way he knows how, which is

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to win on the water. It's interesting. The mind games have

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started, the opposition are getting testy and pushing all of his

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buttons, but no one seems to comprehend, despite people having

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worked with him previously, how he will respond to that and the only

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way is to go out and win. Everyone else is living in a hotel

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in the capital, Hamilton. Such is the attention to detail that the

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team has started a school for the children. Why are there so many

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exclamation marks? Webpage are we looking at? Can you find page 14? --

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what page. What do you guys do most days after school? I swim. I go to

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the pool or I go sailing. Do you want to become a sailor? You think

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one day you might become an American's Cup sailor? -- America's.

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Giles Scott share the same dreams at the same age. 22 years later he won

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Olympic gold for Britain at his first attempt in the Finn class in

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Rio, the same class of boat that in Ainslie dominated for so many years.

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The pair were rivals on the water, at great friends of it. Now he is

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also devoted to bringing the cup home. It's one of the greatest

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sporting trophies and certainly the greatest sailing trophy. As sailors

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we realise we are incredibly fortunate to be involved in a team

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capable of winning the America's Cup and it's as simple as that. When you

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have that much passion for something, working hard, working

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long days and no weekends is the easy part. There is no denying that

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you need great wealth to get this trophy. The owner of Oracle is

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reportedly worth $50 billion. Criticism that it is too elitist

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won't be helped by in one of the most expensive places

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on earth, but organisers are trying a new framework agreement between

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the teams, to modernise the sport and bring costs down in future. Sir

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Keith Mills has been instrumental in helping BAR with funding. This is

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the final countdown, where it all comes together. The last two or

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three years, all of the effort, the money was raising, the sponsorship,

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the physical fitness and technology in the next two or three weeks it

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comes together into a package which we hope will win the America's Cup.

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He hasn't flowered in all of this cash for just a trophy, he sees it

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as a long-term investment. -- ploughed in. And, for him, then

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Ainslie is the key. He takes this tactical risks that I never take. He

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sees gaps in the water that I never see. But more than anything else he

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never, ever gives up and that's the great trait of a great sportsman.

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Sometimes in life there is the right time and this is the right time and

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this is the best chance Britain has ever had at winning the America's

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Cup. Will we win it this time? Who knows? Export. But if we don't win

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it this time we are certainly close to winning the America's Cup. From a

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short time with Ben Ainslie Racing, I've learnt that this is a team that

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would go into battle with Ben any place, any time. The task is great.

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No team built from scratch has ever won the America's Cup at first

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attempt. There's a lot of pressure and there always is. If you throw

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your hat into the ring of what is the pinnacle of any sport, then you

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are going to have a tough battle on your hands and we've certainly got

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that. But within the team it feels like a question of when and not if.

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I can sit here and say in reasonable confidence that at some point in the

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next 20 years we will win the America's Cup for Britain. It might

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not be this America's Cup, but certainly in the near future we will

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get the job done. Personally, and I think for everyone in this team, it

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would be the biggest achievement if we can pull this off and win the

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America's Cup for Britain. You look at our sporting maritime heritage,

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it's the one thing that's missing. It would be huge if we can bring the

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cup home. Quite wet through the small hours

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in the north and north-east

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The America's Cup, the world's oldest sporting trophy, was invented by Britain. Yet in its 166-year history, Britain has never actually won it. Now, the most successful sailor in Olympic history is attempting to make his obsession a reality - by bringing the Auld Mug back to the UK.

Natalie Pirks has been to Bermuda, where the competition is being held, to meet Sir Ben Ainslie, his team and the boat they are pinning all their hopes on.


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