Ben Ainslie has hit out at Team New Zealand for resisting proposed changes to reduce the size of boats for the next America's Cup.
Ainslie, who was a member of Oracle at the last event in San Francisco in 2013, is now skipper of Ben Ainslie Racing and made the call in a Daily Telegraph column ahead of the impending vote to scale back the catamarans from 62ft to something between 45 and 50ft. The proposal has been mooted as a way to cut costs and attract more challengers for the next America's Cup in Bermuda in 2017.
Ainslie is singing from the same song sheet as Oracle chief executive Russell Coutts and his challenge are struggling for funds. Team France and Swedish entry Artemis are also said to support the change.
Team NZ oppose the idea to reduce the size of the boats and the decision could have a massive bearing on their continued involvement in the America's Cup. Italian syndicate Luna Rossa, who are the Challenger of Record, have already threatened to withdraw if the boat size is changed.
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"Personally, I do not just think this is a good idea, I think it is absolutely essential for the long-term good of the Cup," Ainslie wrote. "Without making radical changes, the America's Cup will never reach it's potential commercially. Even after the amazing spectacle in San Francisco in 2013, new teams and sponsors are hugely supportive of certainty in a sustainable event.
"Of course, it is disappointing that a very small number of teams are arguing against the proposals but in some ways it is inevitable. In the case of Team New Zealand their argument against change is purely focused on their desire to host part of the qualifying series in NZ, at huge expense and competitive disadvantage to all of the other teams.
"The Kiwis believe that voting against a smaller boat and cost saving is their best chance of guaranteeing the NZ event and with it substantial government funding. It is therefore crucial that the majority of teams hold firm in making these changes which would continue to take the world's oldest international sporting trophy into the modern era."
Team NZ rely on government support and the Government have indicated they might not get on board this time if there isn't a lead-in regatta in Auckland. The vote is also likely to confirm that is now off the table.
The European teams have been arguing against coming to the Auckland regatta because of the cost of transporting their boats and crew to New Zealand and then Bermuda. There have even been rumours they are asking for the Kiwis to bear some of those costs.
"Will Luna Rossa or Team New Zealand quit if the proposals are passed?" Ainslie asked. "I hope not as both Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand have great history in this most prestigious event."