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It's an Ainslie family affair at launch of Land Rover BAR America's Cup Class catamaran

It's an Ainslie family affair at launch of Land Rover BAR America's Cup Class catamaran

The ambitions of Land Rover BAR to win the 35th America's Cup – and finally bring the trophy back home to Britain after 166 years – took solid form today, with the launch and christening of their America's Cup Class race boat in Bermuda.

The menacing, matt black boat represents the combined efforts across three years of the now 120-strong team and their partners. After the launch of four test boats, 85,000 hours of design and build, on the water testing and painstaking construction, the team has seen its efforts crystallised into the boat code-named R1.

Mark Lloyd/Land Rover BAR

Sir Ben Ainslie's wife Georgie and baby daughter Bellatrix appropriately smashed a bottle of English sparkling Nyetimber wine to christen Land Rover BAR's America's Cup Class race boat Rita – the name carried by all 19 of Ben's previous Olympic and world championship winning boats. With just 107 days to the start of racing, the team will continue with their intensive testing and development programme, which will now include 'in-house' racing against their test boat 'T3'.

"It's a great moment to see our AC50 Race boat hit the water in Bermuda," said Ainslie. "The launch represents the sum of all the team's efforts to bring the America's Cup home, and we're delighted to get her in the water here in Bermuda. We're a start-up team, and we had to build not just the boat but the design and engineering team, the facilities and the processes to get to this point today. There are just a few short months before the racing starts at the end of May, and we will be working very hard now on the final development and testing of this boat to make sure we are ready for the racing."

The America's Cup has changed beyond all recognition in its 166 year history as both a sporting and design contest. In the first race, back in 1851 a fleet of big, traditional yachts sailed all the way around the Isle of Wight at speeds in single digit nautical miles per hour, crewed by dozens of men with nothing more technical than a compass, thousands of metres of rope, and the trusty block and tackle.

In 2017 in Bermuda, the 21st British Challenger for the America's Cup will race on a tightly defined course of just a few miles at speeds that could reach 60mph. There will only be six men onboard, the boat will fly over the surface supported by high-tech hydrofoils, and while there will be just 67m of rope on board, there will be 130m of hydraulic pipes, and over 1200m of electronic and electrical cabling connecting 190 sensors and four video cameras – all in a 15m boat! This is no longer just about naval architecture, the design and engineering war is fought on all fronts; systems, electronics, hydraulics, computers and software.

[Main Image: Mark Lloyd/Land Rover BAR]

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