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Yachting: Ainslie taps F1 guru Newey for America's Cup

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Record-breaking Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie Thursday revealed he's hoping to enlist Formula One design guru Adrian Newey to help him win the next America's Cup.

Ainslie, who famously helped Oracle Team USA overturn an 8-1 deficit to win the last edition of sailing's peak event, said he also has ambitions of smashing the round-the-world record.

Ainslie told AFP he has already approached Formula One personnel including Newey, a key figure in Red Bull's march to four straight drivers and constructors titles.

Four-time Olympic gold-medallist Ainslie, 37, is in the process of drumming up $100 million in support to enter an all-British team in the next America's Cup expected in 2017.

"We've spoken to a lot of teams and guys like Adrian Newey, who is a very keen sailor," he said in an interview in Singapore, venue for the first leg of this year's Extreme Sailing Series.

He added: "I don't think we'd ever look to get Adrian with us full-time but certainly if he could be involved whenever he has some time and just spend some time with our design team, that would be a huge boost.

"He's keen to try and help but obviously he's a very busy guy, especially at this part of the Formula One season. I know they've got a lot on with the new cars.

"But this will be a four-year campaign so there's plenty of opportunity to try and get someone like Adrian involved."

Ainslie was widely hailed for his role in last year's America's Cup, when he was brought on board with Oracle 8-1 down but masterminded eight straight wins to retain the Auld Mug 9-8.

Ainslie now plans to take on Oracle, backed by billionaire Larry Ellison, and Team Australia, who are the official challengers, for the oldest international trophy in sport.

And he said he is entering the eight-leg, fast-paced Extreme Sailing Series, which also features multi-hull boats, with his own Ben Ainslie Racing team as part of his preparations.

"It's really the only circuit going this season that is relevant to the America's Cup with the multi-hull style of racing, so it's important from that point of view," he said.

- 'Really cool challenge' -

"And it gives us a chance to try different sailors through the season and see how they get on within the team and how the interaction goes."

He said the door remained shut on the Olympics after completing his career haul of four gold medals and one silver, the best in sailing at the Games, in front of his home fans in 2012.

"It never crosses my mind," said the affable but intensely competitive Briton, who announced his retirement from Olympic sailing after the London Games.

"I'm normally a pretty straightforward person -- when I decide on something, that's it.

"2012 was just the most amazing experience with the home Olympics, you're never going to better that. So there's no reason whatsoever to (return)."

But Ainslie said after the America's Cup, there were other challenges on the horizon -- such as breaking the non-stop round-the-world record, currently just over 45 days.

"The Volvo Ocean Race (round the world with several stops) has traditionally always been a very strong race within the sport and is something to try and achieve," he said.

"One thing that really attracts me is the Jules Verne Challenge which is the non-stop around the world record, which I think currently stands at 45, 46 days.

"That would be a really cool challenge to take on. So there's lots to go for. But really America's Cup is enough of a challenge right now."

Among Ainslie's competitors in the Extreme Sailing Series will be Dean Barker, the Emirates Team New Zealand skipper who was on the wrong end of last year's miraculous America's Cup result.

Asked if he would be seeking revenge, Barker said: "I'm sure there'll be a little bit of black paint on a grey boat at some point."

The Extreme Sailing Series, with tight, spectator-friendly courses close to shore, starts in Singapore this week and wraps up in Sydney in December.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140220/yachting-ainslie-taps-f1-guru-newey-americas-cup