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Thursday, May 11, 2017

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© Ricardo Pinto

Ben Ainslie
Skipper/Helmsman/Team Principal
Land Rover BAR 

He’s the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, an America’s Cup winner and one of Britain’s greatest sportsmen, but for Sir Ben Ainslie that’s not enough.

His goal is to take the America’s Cup back to the UK for the first time since the competition began off the Isle of Wight in 1851. As team principal and skipper of Land Rover BAR, Ainslie, 40, has built a home-grown outfit with serious credentials after clinching the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series title last year.

Ainslie tasted America's Cup success with ORACLE TEAM USA in the remarkable comeback to beat Emirates Team New Zealand in San Francisco in 2013. With the Americans falling behind dramatically at 4-1 down, Britain’s sailing hero was drafted into the unfamiliar role of Tactician. He describes it as the most pressure he has ever been under. But his golden touch helped ORACLE TEAM USA pull off the incredible to win 9-8. Now he will look to lead his own team to victory in the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda. 

© Shaun Roster

Dean Barker
SoftBank Team Japan

Formerly skipper and helmsman of Emirates Team New Zealand, Barker suffered an agonizing defeat in the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco. After coming out on the wrong side of the greatest comeback in sporting history, Dean Barker parted ways with Emirates Team New Zealand to oversee his own campaign as skipper and CEO of Softbank Team Japan. Barker brings his knowledge and experience to the new team, who is also the first Japanese challenger in nearly 20 years.

Dean’s first America’s Cup exposure when skipper Russell Coutts invited him to train with Team New Zealand during the successful 1995 campaign in San Diego. Only five years after making his America's Cup debut he steered Team New Zealand to victory in the final race in 2000. The 35th America’s Cup will be the sixth America’s Cup campaign for Barker, and he hopes it is time for his second win.

Peter Burling
Emirates Team New Zealand

© Ricardo Pinto

As helmsman of Emirates Team New Zealand, Peter Burling will be aiming to continue his meteoric rise to the top at this year’s 35th America’s Cup having been somewhat of a prodigy from a young age, to say the least!

Having sealed back-to-back under-18 World Championship successes, Burling became the youngest sailor ever to represent New Zealand at the Olympic Games aged 17, finishing 11th in the 470 class at 2008 Games in Beijing. Four years later he found himself on the podium at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, clinching silver in the 49er skiff discipline.

Teaming up with Blair Tuke, the pair enjoyed unrivalled success winning the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 World and European Championships. In total they won all 28 of the major regattas in the 49er class between the London Olympics (2012) and the Rio Olympics (2016) where they won gold.

In between their world and European domination, Burling skippered the New Zealand Sailing Team entry to victory in the inaugural Red Bull Youth America's Cup in San Francisco in September 2013 and his burgeoning talent did not go unnoticed as he was handed the honour of being confirmed as the helmsman for his home nation’s 35th America’s Cup campaign.

Unsurprisingly, he has already enjoyed early success, helming the team to an overall win in the 2015 Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series regatta in Gothenburg, Sweden, helping his team become the only team to finish all four races in the top three.

© Ricardo Pinto

Franck Cammas
Groupama Team France

The 44-year-old French skipper’s route to the America’s Cup is unconventional, but having lapped the planet several times his experience is second to none. Cammas is a French offshore sailing legend with a list of accomplishments that include winning the Jules Verne Trophy in 2010 (shaving more than two days off the previous record) and winning the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race in the monohull Volvo Open 70 'Groupama'. 

In 2013, Cammas helped launch Groupama Team France with the goal of being the first French team to win the America’s Cup. However, in late 2015 he suffered a set back when his foot was nearly sliced off by the rudder after he fell from a foiling GC32 catamaran off Brittany in a training accident. The injury kept him out of the water for five months, and ended his campaign to make the French Olympic team in the Nacra 17 catamaran for Rio 2016.

But Cammas bounced back quickly and rejoined the team as helmsman for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series New York in May, 2016. He also used his recovery as an opportunity to dive deeper into his longtime passion for boat design, and was involved in every stage of development of the team’s America’s Cup Class yacht. 

© Ricardo Pinto

Nathan Outteridge
Artemis Racing

Olympic gold and silver in the 49er class and multiple world titles in high-performance boats paved the way for Outteridge’s career as an America’s Cup helm in the modern era of foiling, wing-sailed multihulls. He and Artemis Racing teammate Iain Jensen went into the 2012 London Games as back-to-back world champions, walking away with gold before even the final medal race.

After the Games, Outteridge joined Artemis Racing as a helmsman for the build up to the 34th America’s Cup campaign in San Francisco. But Artemis, and the whole America’s Cup family, were left devastated when crewman Andrew “Bart” Simpson died in a training accident on San Francisco Bay in May 2013. The team attempted to pick up the pieces, emotionally and competitively, but lost too much development time and were knocked out of the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series by Luna Rossa.

In 2015-16 Outteridge balanced the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series with an Olympic campaign, and went to the Rio Games in 2016 with Jensen looking to become the first sailors to defend the 49er Olympic title. However, the London 2012 places were reversed in Rio, with Emirates Team New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke claiming gold, and the Aussies settling for silver. Now the Artemis Racing skipper is focused full time on adding an America’s Cup win to his list of achievements.

© Ricardo Pinto

Jimmy Spithill

A two-time America’s Cup winner, Jimmy Spithill in 2013 led his team to what has been called the greatest comeback in sporting history. Spithill and his ORACLE TEAM USA crew won eight straight races in the face off match point to beat Emirates Team New Zealand 9-8 in San Francisco. “We were facing down the barrel of a gun at 8-1 and the guys didn’t even flinch,” said Spithill, who was named World Sailor of the Year for his efforts.

A multiple world champion in both fleet and match racing, Spithill is both the youngest helmsman to compete for the America’s Cup (with Young Australia at age 19) as well as the youngest skipper (with ORACLE TEAM USA at age 30) to win it. His goal is now to lead the team to a “three-peat” – three consecutive America’s Cup wins. This is his sixth America’s Cup.

Away from the America’s Cup, Spithill is developing a reputation as extreme sportsman. He holds his private pilots’ license, is an accomplished amateur boxer, and has completed two Molokai to Oahu stand-up paddleboard crossings. 

© Ricardo Pinto

Glenn Ashby
Skipper/Wing trimmer
Emirates Team New Zealand

He’s known as Mr. Multihull and could be one of Emirates Team New Zealand’s not-so secret weapons in the 35th America’s Cup. Ashby is only the third Team New Zealand skipper in more than 20 years after Russell Coutts and Dean Barker, but will his role on board in Bermuda will be as wing trimmer, with 2016 Olympic 49er champion Peter Burling taking the helm.

Ashby has earned 15 world titles across three multihull classes – A-class, Formula 18, Tornado, plus an Olympic silver medal with Darren Bundock in the Tornado at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Ashby first got involved in the America’s Cup in 2010 when he joined BMW Oracle Racing to act as a multihull mentor for skipper James Spithill for the trimaran match against Alinghi’s giant cat in Valencia. When catamarans were announced for the 34th America’s Cup, Ashby was top of the shopping list to help Barker and co. get to grips with the AC45 and then the AC72. He played a key part in helping the Kiwis to pioneer the use of foils. This time he will skipper a boat with innovative cycle grinders instead of arm-powered winches, determined to regain the trophy and take it back to New Zealand. 

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