Section: Sailing

America’s Cup: Martin Whitmarsh appointed new CEO of Ben Ainslie Racing

Martin Whitmarsh appointed new CEO of Ben Ainslie Racing as former McLaren stalwart aims to win America’s Cup

Martin Whitmarsh, the former McLaren team principal and chief executive of The McLaren Group, was announced as the new CEO of Ben Ainslie Racing, the team founded by Britain’s four-time Olympic gold medallist with the aim of retrieving the America’s Cup and bringing it back to British waters for the first time since the inaugural competition was held off the Isle of Wight in 1851.

Whitmarsh, who will take a seat on the board and report to Ainslie, BAR’s team principal, was recommended to the yachtsman by a number of high-profile figures within motorsport, among them Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Adrian Newey. The latter is already committed to working for BAR as part of a consultancy agreement between the fledgling Portsmouth-based team and Red Bull Advanced Technologies.

Whitmarsh admitted the prospect of working with Formula One’s pre-eminent designer again, after the pair spent nine years together at McLaren between 1997 and 2006, was a key factor behind his decision to join BAR, although he claimed he needed little persuading once he had sat down with Ainslie.

“Ben came to see me at my house a couple of weeks ago and it was an easy sell,” he said. “There were no negotiations. Frankly, within minutes of talking to Ben I knew I wanted to do it. I rang him the next morning to accept.”

Since that meeting, Whitmarsh has been out in Borneo, where his daughter, an anthropologist, is working on a project with orangutans.

It was the last trip in what he describes as a “life-changing” nine months since he walked out of the McLaren Technology Centre for the last time, having been ousted as team principal last January following a lengthy power struggle with Ron Dennis.

Whitmarsh declined to discuss his departure, or even the current goings-on at McLaren (“I’m still too close to it all”) but said he did not regret his decision and would almost certainly never go back.

“It has been good for my soul,” he said of his mid-life gap year. “I mean, you’re the first journalist I have spoken to in 12 months. I’ve been travelling. I’ve been able to spend more time with my kids who are grown up now. My son is a music photographer so I’ve helped him set up a bit. I’ve been out to visit my daughter in Uganda and Rwanda and Borneo, and see what she is doing. I feel quite energised by it all. Formula One is a sport that can take over your life, it can consume you. And I think it got pretty close to doing that with me.

“But I know I’m a lucky, lucky man. I had an amazing 25 years and never have to work again if I don’t want to. Whatever I do now should be because I want to do something fresh.”


That opportunity has arrived, unexpectedly, in the shape of BAR, who will be competing for the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017.

Whitmarsh will begin his role next month, just a few weeks before the team move from their temporary offices in Whiteley to a new state-of-the-art facility in Camber Quay.

“That is what I have been brought in to help do. If I look back at my 25 years at McLaren, we developed from a business with fewer than 100 people to over 3000 people, a business that went from £19 million turnover to over £600  million.

Read more at The Telegraph

Sailing: Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark robbed at knifepoint in Rio

London 2012 silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark have been robbed at knifepoint in Rio de Janeiro.

The sailors, in Brazil for a two-week training camp as part of preparations for the Rio 2016 Games, were approached by two men armed with knives as they returned to their hotel from training.

The men pushed the pair and took everything they had.

“We made it back to the hotel slightly shaken but OK,” 470 class sailors Mills and Clark posted on Facebook.

“Our delightful walk back from the sailing club to the hotel turned fairly nasty when two guys wielding 7-inch knives ran at us, pushed us around and grabbed everything we had.

“Along with the things that were actually worth something, the most annoying thing right now is our lycra we were sailing in got taken… unbelievable!”

Earlier this year, Cardiff-born Mills, 26, and 35-year-old Clark, who is originally from Colchester, won bronze at the World Championships in Santander, Spain, to qualify their boat in the 470 class for Rio 2016.

Selection for the boats will be made closer to the time of the Games.

Read more at BBC Sport

America’s Cup: Sir Ben Ainslie enters Red Bull F1 partnership

Sir Ben Ainslie will work with a division of the Red Bull Formula 1 team as he ramps up his bid to win the America’s Cup with a British team.

Ainslie led Oracle Team USA to victory in last year’s America’s Cup and later formed Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR).

Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey will be available as an advisor to the project.

“BAR are really excited to be partnering with Red Bull Advanced Technologies (RBAT),” said Ainslie, 37.

“RBAT will apply its simulation and modelling skills to assist Ben Ainslie Racing in various areas of their campaign.

“We are in a unique position in this country, and this campaign is about assimilating the very best of British in design and engineering – RBAT epitomises this.”

Earlier this year, four-time Olympic champion Ainslie said he wanted Newey involved in the America’s Cup project having met the designer at the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Newey designed the Red Bull cars which Sebastian Vettel drove to win the world championship in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

However, he is now combining his time in F1 with other projects, of which the America’s Cup is one.

Read more at BBC Sport