Ben Ainslie
Ainslie will prepare for the America's Cup by returning to Extreme Sailing Series competition with his J.P. Morgan BAR team.

Sir Ben Ainslie's attempts to win the America's Cup in a British boat has received a significant boost after the four-time Olympic sailing champion revealed over a third of the estimated £100m required to fund the team has been secured through private investment.

Since helping stage among the finest comebacks in sporting history as Team Oracle USA defeated Emirates New Zealand 9-8 in San Francisco Bay last October to land sport's oldest major trophy, Ainslie has embarked on returning the America's Cup to the country of its birth.

The 36 year old is currently speaking to commercial sponsors and private investors, among them Sir Keith Mills and Charles Dunstone, in order to secure the finances to build a British team capable of winning sailing's greatest prize for the first time in its 163-year history.

With Team Oracle not expected to announce the stipulations and protocol for the 35<sup>th America's Cup until the Spring– as is their right as defenders – Ainslie is forced to pitch the idea of a crew claiming the only major international sporting trophy never won by a British team. The reception has naturally been overwhelming.

"Probably the biggest challenge is the fund raising which we've been working incredibly hard towards over the last three or four months and have actually got to a very good place in the balance between private investors and commercial sponsorship," Ainslie told IBTimes UK.

"I'm really grateful for the amount of support we've had both in terms of interest from commercial partners and sponsors but particularly from the private investors.

"There is an entrepreneurial view-point to it but really it's patriotism for people who want to see a British team out there being successful in that arena so we're very fortunate to have the interest we've had.

"Our split of the budget is really 50/50 between commercial funding and the private investors but while we've had a number of really positive conversations, without a time and a venue and a lot more information companies can't sign off on that decision.

"We've really been focusing on the private investors for the last three or four months and I would say we're about 75% of the way down our target on that front which is fantastic."

On the water, Ainslie's preparations for the America's Cup begin in earnest with his return to the Extreme Sailing Series; a revitalised yearlong competition held across eight venues spanning three continents.

Ainslie will skipper the J.P. Morgan BAR team accompanied by fellow Olympic champions Paul Goodison and Pippa Wilson and the event works as ideal preparation for the challenges ahead according to the 11-time world champion.

"It helps us with the build-up to the next America's Cup," Ainslie explained.

"With no other racing this year it really gives us a chance to get out on the racecourse and do a similar style of sailing, multihull, and bring in some new sailors and activate the JP Morgan sponsorship.

"It will be in a similar type of boat, have a strong team on board and it will be about just starting to build some of those relationships with some of the sailors because obviously there are some new faces coming into the team."

And Ainslie could even tap up his BAR teammates for selection for the America's Cup. "Potentially. Some of the people involved Paul Goodison and Pippa Wilson who are both gold medallists from past Olympic teams."

Goodison is understood to be keen to make up part of Ainslie's British dream team which could also include Red Bull's aerodynamicist Adrian Newey, the only Formula 1 designer to have won the Constructors Championship with three different teams.

Alongside team principal Christian Horner, Newey – an expert in fluid dynamics - has orchestrated each of Sebastian Vettel's four drivers' championship title wins and would be considered a huge asset to any British attempt to win the America's Cup.

"Someone like Adrian Newey brings a huge amount of experience and talent," the Macclesfield-born sailor said.

"But it's not just Adrian, there's a huge amount of talent out there in engineering and design in other industries and we'd be crazy not to tap into as a team which is a challenge which had a huge design element to it.

"I've had a few conversations with him about it and he's very passionate about the America's Cup but he's clearly committed to Formula 1 and we wouldn't want anyone to think we were trying to pull him away. It's something he's passionate about and we'd love to have any involvement with him we could."