OLYMPIC hero Sir Ben Ainslie has thrown his weight behind the next edition of the America’s Cup despite the Australian challengers pulling out.
Four time gold medallist Sir Ben said his Ben Ainslie Racing Team would give their full support to the event organisers after Team Australia announced their withdrawal.
Team Australia were confirmed as the event’s official challengers in September last year but last week said they were pulling out due to financial problems.
It leaves Team USA as the defenders and four other teams – Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR), Team France, Luna Rossa and Artemis – fighting for the most prestigious trophy in yachting.
Sir Ben, right, who recently received the green light to build a multimillion pound base in Portsmouth, said: “We remain supportive of the Defender’s continued drive towards a more commerc i a l event format, along with a more sustainable future for this historic trophy.
BAR will be bidding to host two America’s Cup World Series events in 2015 and 2016 at our new home in Portsmouth as a key part of the road to the 35th America’s Cup.
“While the withdrawal of the Challenger of Record is regrettable, it is also not unusual and we will continue our own preparations for the 35th America’s Cup.
“We are really focussed to help build a successful and sustainable America’s Cup for the future.
“The America’s Cup is about pushing the technical boundaries of the sport through continued innovation.
“It will again be incredibly exciting to watch, both on and off the water, all the ingredients you need for a great sporting event.”
Sir Ben helped m a s t e r m i n d Team USA’s victory in last year's America’s Cup, when his crew came from 8-1 down against Team New Zealand to win the series 9-8.
He is now aiming to lead the first British team ever to win the America’s Cup.