'Hard work' Oracle's secret weapon - Ainslie

11:19, Oct 10 2013
Ben Ainslie
MASTER TACTICIAN: Oracle's Sir Ben Ainslie.

Oracle tactician Sir Ben Ainslie says there was no magic formula or secret weapon to the America's Cup win over Team New Zealand other than "old-fashioned hard work".

Oracle's late surge in speed and development to mow down the Kiwis who held a commanding 8-1 lead but couldn't convert match point, has led to all sorts of conspiracy theories.

Suggestions of computer-enhanced technology to assist their upwind foiling and the in of flying boatbuilders from New Zealand to radically alter the Oracle catamaran midway through the final, have all surfaced post-regatta, fuelled by the syndicate's limitless funding through billionaire backer Larry Ellison and their conviction for cheating on the eve of the final.

But Oracle have presented a united front denying that since their remarkable comeback with skipper Jimmy Spithill and chief executive Sir Russell Coutts laughing off the speculation.

Ainslie, the British sailing genius brought on to the crew when they were staring down the barrel of defeat, joined that chorus today.

"I read all that stuff about the 'Herbies' [an automatic stabilising mechanism developed for aircraft] and all that sort of nonsense. It's just crap," Ainslie told Britain's Independent newspaper.

"We didn't fly in boat builders from all over the world. We didn't have any secret weapon we pulled out at the last minute. It was just old-fashioned hard work, plus some adjustments to the wing and an improvement in technique.

"There are no rocket scientists in the background with million-dollar computer programmes that come out with something special. In some ways it is surprisingly normal. The difference between Oracle and Team New Zealand wasn't huge. I think Team New Zealand may have had a bigger design team.

"Team New Zealand also ran out of steam in Valencia in 2007. There wasn't much left in the locker.

"It's a funny thing about Oracle. Because it was backed by Larry Ellison and his unimaginable wealth gave rise to a misconception. It really isn't the team everyone thinks it is. It's actually really down-to-earth people."

Ainslie is pushing on with plans to have a British challenge in place for the next America's Cup, pencilled in for 2017.

He believes he will need get that up and running as soon as possible to be competitive.

"Definitely by the end of this month, realistically," Ainslie said of announcing any official challenge.

"Because if you leave it much longer than that you definitely won't get there. You can never guarantee to win anything, but it's got to be a team which is strong enough. Otherwise you are just wasting everybody's time and that would be negative for British sailing.

"There's a lot of people that want to help and that is fantastic but you can't rely on people just wanting to help. It's too complex a project for that."

He will have to lay the foundations for his team without knowing the relevant details of the next America's Cup. That formula is yet to be thrashed out by Oracle and recently announced challenger of record, Australia's Hamilton Island Yacht Club.

He says at the moment he will have to base his budget projections around San Francisco hosting the event again in slightly smaller catamarans.


Fairfax Media