Portsmouth: Sir Ben Ainslie Officially Launches Sailing Base

7 July 2014, 13:29

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie says he hopes to create jobs in Portsmouth 'for a number of years'.

The sailor has officially launched his America's Cup headquarters project for the city's Camber Dock, which is being backed by government money. The event at the Spinnaker Tower was also attended by Minister for Portsmouth Michael Fallon and city council leader Councillor Donna Jones.

The next edition of the sailing race takes place in 2017 but Mr Fallon has described the plans as "a 10 to 12 year commitment to the area."

Sir Ben said:

"Our plan is to be here in Portsmouth for a number of years, not just through this America's Cup cycle.

"Beyond that, into the future, we want to create jobs for the local community."

Sir Ben has been granted £7.5 million by the Government to build a base for his America's Cup team in Portsmouth.

The centre is expected to create 90 jobs and act as an economic boost to the Hampshire city which has been hit by BAE's decision to halt shipbuilding there at a cost of 900 jobs.

Announcing the funding at Downing Street on 1 July, the prime minister David Cameron said:

"Sir Ben Ainslie's project is truly fantastic news for Portsmouth and the Solent.

"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.

"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.

"This is an exciting and historic challenge and I hope the whole country can get behind Sir Ben's campaign.''

Sir Ben said:

"Portsmouth has a great maritime heritage and we felt it was a natural home for the team's permanent base in the UK.

"There is excellent access to the water for the team's training and to host future America's Cup events, with fantastic spectator viewpoints.

"We hope through our journey to bring the cup home to Britain 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.''

A spokesman for Ben Ainslie Racing said that the headquarters would initially employ 90 people with more potential jobs in the supply chain.

He said:

"It will become the focal point for the design, construction and development of the team's boats and will also provide sports science and fitness facilities.

"An apprenticeship and training scheme will ensure the site is sustainable and there will be a drive to ensure the project acts as a catalyst to encourage participation in the sport of sailing, all areas of the marine industry and develop the talent of the future.

"The project has the potential to bring significant economic and sporting benefits to the UK, particularly for Portsmouth and the wider Solent area.

"A recent report on Team New Zealand suggested that its base in Auckland created 1,000 jobs and brought an 88 million NZ dollar (£45 million) boost to the local economy.

"A visitor centre showcasing the sport, innovation, technology and sustainability will be at the heart of the base, and will welcome schools and community groups. Visitors will experience the construction and on-going operation of the team's America's Cup boats first-hand.''

Construction work will start immediately and should be completed by May 2015.