Guv's Call | PRADA Cup

INEOS TEAM UK Team Principal and Skipper Sir Ben Ainslie gives an update ahead of the start of the PRADA Cup.

INEOS TEAM UK Team Principal and Skipper Sir Ben Ainslie gives an update ahead of the start of the PRADA Cup.

The America’s Cup is the ultimate team sport. Every single member of the team from the design room, to the shed, to the support staff to the sailing team, is reliant on one another get the best possible performance out of the boat. That's why I am so proud of the way the entire team reacted to the frustration of the World Series. We could not have done more to resolve the issues we had, we are up for the fight and we are looking forward to trying to prove what our boat and team are really capable of.

The World Series in December was a tough period. We knew we had some issues going into the series and they were magnified in the races. We were underperforming and clearly way off the pace compared to our competitors. That puts a lot of pressure on the team but in situations like that, which many of us have been through before, you can either stick your head in the sand and hope it all goes away or you can be honest with yourselves about what is going on and you can work incredibly hard to sort it out. Our team has certainly taken the latter approach.

Ben Ainslie chats to shore team manager Andrew Henderson on the water
© C.GREGORY / INEOS TEAM UK

You hear a lot about siege mentality in sport, it is something I have experienced before in the America’s Cup. I have got that feeling about this team. As frustrating as the World Series was it was a hugely important event for us as a team because it highlighted our deficiencies in performance and gave us no option but to look hard at our issues and rectify them.

NEOS TEAM UK pushing hard to test and develop Britannia ahead of the Prada Cup
© C.GREGORY / INEOS TEAM UK

We have made a lot of changes to the boat. This is a technical game so I can’t reveal what they are but needless to say they are significant. They will need to be. The main issues we have identified with our performance were in a few key areas, which we have tried our best to rectify. Then there were other areas of our performance which simply were not good enough, so we have been working on those as well.

INEOS TEAM UK shore team work hard night and day on Britannia
© C.GREGORY / INEOS TEAM UK

I am sure the other teams have been working hard on their boats too. It is going to be fascinating to see the step changes and performance jumps all the teams have made between the World Series and the PRADA Cup. 

The racing itself in the World Series was fantastic to see and very promising for the spectators. The AC75 is one of the coolest boats I have ever sailed. It is a real beast. The power, performance, technology, and teamwork required to sail it is incredible. To see these phenomenal boats race against each other in high speeds and close proximity was thrilling and it will undoubtedly only get better and better.

INEOS TEAM UK hard at work ashore in the leadup to the Prada Cup.
© C.GREGORY / INEOS TEAM UK

In the PRADA Cup we will be up against our fellow Challengers Luna Rossa and American Magic, both of whom are incredibly strong teams. They have great designers, sailors, management and backing and it will be a real challenge to get through them to the Cup itself. We have our work cut out but we have set the tone in the team and know that if we can work through our issues objectively in the timeframe that we have we can be competitive and put up a real fight.

In this game the development never stops. We will be developing and modifying throughout the competition. You have to keep progressing through the rounds if you are going to ultimately win in the end. That has always been our objective and still is.

Ben

INEOS TEAM UK finish another long day testing on the water
© D Wilko