America’s cup : Will Britannia Rule the Wave Again?

By October, British businessman, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, will have spent £145 million attempting to win the “£100 Pound Cup” in a yacht race. His quest, the trophy, better known as the “America’s Cup” has never been won by Britain despite the race and cup originating in a race in England in 1851.


Why is it the “America’s Cup” when it was created in Britain?


In 1851, a Schooner called “America” won a yacht race around the Isle of Wight off southern England. They took the prize, back to America. The silver ewer was christened the “America’s Cup.” In 170 years, the trophy has passed around the globe to Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United States (25 times). Despite Britain being the most frequent challenger for what is also called the “auld mug,” the trophy has never been won by Britain. That may change in October this year when two British knights pool money and Olympic sailing skills to settle the ultimate “grudge match.”


Who is Sir Jim Ratcliffe?


The bet on winning is being made by British industrialist, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who is financing the Ineos Britannia Team that is being led by another knight of the realm, Sir Ben Ainslie. Jim Ratcliffe began making his billionaire fortune in 1998 when his Ineos petrochemical company leased and bought up the assets of two giant petrochemical companies, BP and ICI. Ineos has grown into one of the world’s top ten petrochemical businesses. Today Sir Jim’s interests are much wider with Ineos engaged in the production of fuel, packaging and food, construction, car production, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and professional sport.


British knights pooling money and Olympic sailings skills to settle the ultimate “grudge match.”


No easy sailing


Sir Jim is not taking chances on his crew. He has recruited Sir Ben Ainslie to lead the Ineos Britannia Team. Sir Ben is the most successful sailor in the history of the Olympic Games. From 1996 he won medals in five consecutive Olympics. He will skipper the AC 75 class of foiling monohull yachts in the showdown that may achieve sailing speeds four times faster than the wind. The Ineos Britannia Team faces stiff competition. Sir Ben and the Ineos Britannia Team will have to beat the Alinghi Red Bull Racing from Switzerland, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli from Italy, American Magic New York Yacht Club from the USA, and Orient Express Racing Team from France before confronting the defender of the cup, Emirates Team New Zealand representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. This year’s America’s Cup will culminate in the Catalonian capital Barcelona at the end of October when Sir Jim will see whether Britannia again “Rules the wave.”