We’re into the final countdown for the 35th America’s Cup – the oldest trophy in international sport, and one which has evaded the hands of a British team since its inception in 1851.
Will 2017 be the year this changes?
One thing is for sure, there’s no lack of British talent across the various teams in the Bermuda boatyards, with a number of ex-British Sailing Team athletes drafted onto the sailing rosters of three of the six international teams.
Several British sailing icons occupy key positions – clearly Sir Ben Ainslie and his BAR cohort have strong ambitions to bring the Auld Mug to British shores, with Rio gold medallist Giles Scott just one of several BAR sailors alongside him to have cut their teeth in the RYA’s junior, youth and Olympic racing programmes.
You can add to that Olympic gold medallists Iain Percy and Paul Goodison, Olympic bronze medallist Chris Draper, all of whom are competing with international syndicates, and several others who were developed through RYA squads over the years.
It’s great testament to the strength and depth of sailing talent in the UK to see how in demand British sailors are on the professional circuit, with a number of British support staff, some of whom have also been embedded with the RYA squads over the years, working behind the scenes in coaching, design, engineering or physiology roles as well.
The RYA Racing programmes – junior, youth, Olympic, keelboat, match racing and so forth – provide a fantastic framework for success at all levels and in all disciplines of the sport of sailing. Long may this work continue. Long may British success on the world stage provide the inspiration and investment we need to keep attracting talented young sailors, fuelling their dreams, fulfilling their potential and nurturing a lifelong love of the sport, wherever that takes them.
It will be fascinating to see how the design race and the wealth of sailing talent across the teams plays out this summer, and I would expect a close battle on Bermuda’s Great Sound.
With the British Sailing Team top of the table at Rio 2016, a British skipper winning the Volvo Ocean Race, can we complete the 'triple crown' and have a British team winning the America’s Cup?
The last Cup back in 2013 was quite simply a fantastic story of sporting triumph against the odds and I can’t wait for the drama to unfold!
Racing for the 35th America’s Cup kicks off on 27th May 2017 (postponed from 26th May due to poor conditions).
BT Sport is the event broadcaster for the UK and Ireland, with the BBC showing highlights programmes – all the broadcast times and details and further information will be available on the America’s Cup website.
Inspired? Try sailing this summer www.rya.org.uk/go/startsailing #trysailing