Press release

Government approves £7.5 million for Sir Ben Ainslie project to boost Portsmouth

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Ministers announce £7.5 million funding to support Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup team and their proposal to be based in Portsmouth.

Ministers today (1 July 2014) announced £7.5 million of government funding to support Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup team and their proposal to be based on the Camber in Portsmouth.

The investment will be supported by an additional £1.4 million from Portsmouth City Council.

The headquarters will initially employ about 90 people, with many more potential jobs in the supply chain. It will become the focal point for the design, construction and development of the team’s boats and will also provide sports science and fitness facilities and a visitors’ centre. An apprenticeship and training scheme will ensure the site is sustainable and there will be a drive to ensure the project acts as a catalyst to encourage participation in the sport of sailing, all areas of the marine industry and develop the talent of the future.

The project has the potential to bring significant economic and sporting benefits to the UK, particularly for Portsmouth and the wider Solent area. A recent report on Team New Zealand suggested that its base in Auckland created 1,000 jobs and brought an $88 million boost to the local economy.

The Prime Minister David Cameron, who discussed Sir Ben Ainslie’s plans with the 4-time Olympic Gold medallist during a meeting today at 10 Downing Street, said:

Sir Ben Ainslie’s project is truly fantastic news for Portsmouth and the Solent. It will not only build on Portsmouth’s global reputation as a centre of marine and maritime excellence but will also deliver a real sporting and economic boost to the UK. It is a great example of our long-term plan - creating jobs as well as opportunities for young people to develop their skills through apprenticeships.

This is an exciting and historic challenge and I hope the whole country can get behind Sir Ben’s campaign.

Four-time Olympic gold medallist, Sir Ben Ainslie said:

Portsmouth has a great maritime heritage and we felt it was a natural home for the team’s permanent base in the UK. There is excellent access to the water for the team’s training and to host future America’s Cup events, with fantastic spectator viewpoints. We hope through our journey to bring the Cup home to Britain we will inspire more young people to get involved in the sport, along with supporting the growth of the marine sector in the Solent area to match the country’s F1 innovation hub.

David Cameron and Sir Ben Ainslie at Downing Street 1 July 2014 (JPEG, 1.45MB)

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

This is intelligently targeted government investment in the future of Portsmouth and the Solent. This part of the country has faced some tough times, but Sir Ben Ainslie’s project will be a welcome boost to the local economy. It will create new jobs, apprenticeships and opportunities for young people by building on existing strengths in areas like marine and tourism.

Minister for Portsmouth Michael Fallon said:

I’ve been flying the flag for this iconic project across government and am delighted that we are supporting it today. This is a historic opportunity for Portsmouth and for the Solent’s economy, tourism, marine industry and skills base. Portsmouth can make a huge contribution to the winning team Sir Ben Ainslie is putting together.

Government support for the project was a key recommendation of a recent report by Rear Admiral Rob Stevens on boosting growth and jobs in the marine and maritime industries in Portsmouth and across the Solent. The report was commissioned by Minister for Portsmouth, Michael Fallon. The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership also stressed the importance of the project as part of their bid to government for a Local Growth deal for the region.

The government funding package includes contributions from the Department for Business and Department for Communities and Local Government.

Sir Ben Ainslie launched his bid to win the 163-year old trophy - never yet won by Great Britain - on 10 June 2014. The Duchess of Cambridge attended the launch at the Royal Museums Greenwich to show her support for the campaign.

The team plan to complete construction work in Portsmouth by May 2015.

Notes to Editors:

1. Ben Ainslie Racing

Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) was launched on 10 June 2014 in the presence of the Duchess of Cambridge. The team was conceived by 4-times Olympic gold medalist and 34th America’s Cup winner, Sir Ben Ainslie, with the long-term aim of challenging for Britain and bringing the America’s Cup back home to where it all began in 1851. Ben will develop and lead a British entry capable of winning the prestigious trophy, something Britain has so far never managed to achieve. BAR is a commercial sporting team, with a number of individual private investors alongside corporate partners. The team is made up of some of the best British and international sailors, designers, builders and racing support.

2. America’s Cup

The America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in world sport, and Britain has never won it. The first race was organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1851, the same year that both Reuters and the New York Times were founded. It was a single race around the Isle of Wight, open to yachts of all nations. The prize was a silver Cup that was valued at One Hundred Pounds sterling. The black schooner America won this nascent contest of maritime supremacy, outclassing the rest of the field to be first at the finish line off Cowes. To honour that victory, it was renamed the America’s Cup and became a challenge trophy, open to sailing clubs of all nations.

American teams representing the New York Yacht Club successfully defended the Cup against all challenges for 132 years - the longest winning streak in sport - until an Australian team won in 1983. Since then the Cup has become a truly global phenomena, with challenges from all 5 continents, and held in locations spread around the world – Cowes, New York, Newport RI, Fremantle, San Diego, Auckland, Valencia and San Francisco.