Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Sir Ben Ainslie: America's Cup Portsmouth HQ gets £7.5m

An artist's impression of the proposed headquarters Image copyright Other
Image caption Sir Ben Ainslie's America's Cup team base is due to be built at Camber Docks in Old Portsmouth

More than £7m of government funding is to go towards supporting Sir Ben Ainslie's America's Cup sailing team base in Portsmouth.

Sir Ben said the funding for a British America's Cup entry would enable the project to "push forward".

Last month Portsmouth City Council approved plans to build the £12m team headquarters at Camber Docks.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the project would "deliver a real sporting and economic boost to the UK".

It is initially expected to employ 90 people.

But it is hoped the project will create many more jobs in the long term for the city, where 900 jobs are being lost after the British defence company BAE decided to end its shipbuilding there.

A four-time Olympic sailing gold medallist, Sir Ben is aiming to raise £80m to lead a British team to victory at the 35th America's Cup, likely to be held in the US in 2017.

America's Cup explained

•First staged in 1851 off the Isle of Wight in England. Won by US yacht America

•No British team has won it, but Sir Ben Ainslie is hoping to change that with his new team

•Racing is boat-on-boat, called match-racing

•Takes place roughly every three to five years

•The winner decides the rules and venue of the next event

•As holders, Oracle Team USA have revamped the format. Qualifying rounds have been streamlined and will start in 2015. The finals are likely to be in June 2017

•The boats will be smaller and cheaper, and a quarter of each crew has to be from the team's home nation

Prime Minister David Cameron described the attempt as an "exciting and historic challenge".

"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," he said.

"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."

Sir Ben said: "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."

The Portsmouth base is set to a be focal point for the design and construction of the team boats and will also provide sports science and fitness facilities as well as a visitor centre.

Image caption Four-time Olympic sailing gold medallist, Sir Ben is aiming to lead a British team to victory at the 35th America's Cup

Construction work is due to start immediately, with a planned completion date in May 2015.

The oldest international trophy in world sport, the America's Cup was first held off the Isle of Wight in 1851, although a British team has never won it.

In a dramatic end to the last race in 2013, Sir Ben helped turn round a 8-1 deficit and won the trophy for Oracle Team USA.

The Ben Ainslie Racing team is pledging to bring the event back to UK waters if they win.

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