A big financial boost has turned Sir Ben Ainslie's America's Cup syndicate into potential spoilers for Team New Zealand ahead of the 2021 America's Cup.
The Great Britain team have signed a new sponsorship deal worth 110m pounds ($NZ216m) meaning they can properly fund a two-boat challenge for the 36th America's Cup, the Telegraph reports.
It is believed to be the biggest investment in a British challenger for the "Auld Mug".
INEOS, one of the world's largest manufacturers of chemicals and oil products, are ploughing the big investment into the challenge. INEOS take over the naming rights to see the team named INEOS Team GB. At the last America's Cup in Bermuda, the Great Britain syndicate were known as Land Rover BAR [the BAR having stood for Ben Ainslie Racing].
"This is an amazing boost for British sport," Ainslie commented. "With this significant commitment from INEOS to fully fund a two-boat challenge, Britain now has its best opportunity to bring the America's Cup back home to Britain where it belongs."
The America's Cup was first held off the Isle of Wight in 1851. It was won by the US yacht 'America' and has never returned to Great Britain.
The deal, which was announced overnight at the Prospect of Whitby pub in Wapping, one of London's oldest maritime pubs, will effectively see INEOS 'hire' Ainslie's race team lock-stock, with most of the key players remaining in situ. Ainslie will stay on as team principal, Grant Simmer as CEO, Kiwi Nick Holroyd as Chief Designer, Jono Macbeth as sailing team manager and Giles Scott as tactician.
INEOS Team GB will continue to represent the Royal Yacht Squadron's affiliated club, Royal Yacht Squadron Racing.
James Sheldon, the Royal Yacht Squadron Commodore said: "The America's Cup is undoubtedly the most important yachting trophy in the world and we are delighted that Royal Yacht Squadron Racing is supporting INEOS Team GB in its attempt to bring it back home."
Despite many attempts in the intervening 167 years, Britain has never won the Cup.
Ainslie's first attempt to reclaim the silverware fell short when his BAR Racing syndicate was beaten by eventual winners Team New Zealand in the semi-finals of the challenger series.
- With NZN