America's Cup: Sir Ben Ainslie says Great Britain bid 'start of something special'

Sir Ben Ainslie's Great Britain team
The America's Cup is the oldest competition in international sport
35th America's Cup in Bermuda
America's Cup: 17-18 & 24-27 June
Race coverage: Watch highlights on BBC Two, Red Button, Connected TVs, online and BBC Sport app from 11 June.

Great Britain's America's Cup 2017 bid is "the start of something special", skipper Sir Ben Ainslie says.

The 40-year-old four-time Olympic gold medallist has confirmed he will lead the team in the next America's Cup, which is due to finish in 2019.

Ainslie hoped to captain Britain's first winning crew in the event but lost in the semi-finals to New Zealand.

"Already the work starts for next time," Ainslie told BBC Sport, adding he had "great heart for the future".

Leading up to this year's event, Ainslie had spoken of needing to raise £110m to fund the campaign.

In 2014, the government pledged more than £7m for a new £12m team headquarters at Camber Docks in Portsmouth, which opened the following year.

Ainslie heads a 65-strong crew which supports the six-man Great Britain team vessel, including former rival and Rio 2016 Olympic sailing champion Giles Scott as the tactician.

Land Rover has already pledged to continue backing the team into the campaign for the 36th America's Cup.

'We're a new team in this game'

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America's Cup - all you need to know

Ainslie guided the team to victory in the 2015-16 America's Cup World Series, a result which earned two points for the qualifying series, which they negotiated to secure a place in the semi-finals this month.

A broken wing derailed the team on the first day against New Zealand and they had to forfeit the second race, before eventually succumbing to a 5-2 defeat.

"I'm just so proud of the team," Ainslie said. "Hats off to New Zealand, they sailed very well, they've obviously got a fast boat and they were too quick for us in the end.

"We're a new team in this game, we will be continuing the America's Cup and we will be stronger next time.

"We know we've got the backing. It's a tough game to win and there's a reason why it has never been won since 1851.

"This is the start of something special for us and the way we've responded to some difficult times gives me great heart for the future."


BBC Sport's Tony Husband in Bermuda:

This 21st British challenge for the 'Auld Mug' has gone the same way as the others but, amid the despondency, there was a positive message from Ben Ainslie.

The man on whom so much rested certainly isn't the type to hide. "We will be back," was the emphatic message.

The inquest will be thorough and probably painful for Britain, but Ainslie seems far from done with the America's Cup.

What happens next?

Holders Oracle Team USA await the winners of the challenger final in the America's Cup.

The first to seven points wins the America's Cup, or the Auld Mug as the trophy is known, with a possible 13 races to be sailed on 17-18 and 24-27 June.

The America's Cup, the oldest competition in international sport, was first raced in 1851 around the Isle of Wight and has only been won by four nations.

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