LONDON (Reuters) - British sailor Ben Ainslie has hired former Oracle Team USA general manager Grant Simmer to run his Land Rover BAR team as it looks to launch another hi-tech America’s Cup campaign.
Ainslie, who plans to challenge holders Emirates Team New Zealand for the next America’s Cup in 2021, said in a statement on Thursday that Simmer, an Australian who has competed in 10 America’s Cup cycles and won sport’s oldest international trophy four times, will replace Martin Whitmarsh as CEO.
Simmer will take responsibility for the sporting and performance side of Land Rover BAR alongside Ainslie, while Whitmarsh will become CEO of BAR Technologies, which will commercialise technologies developed by the team.
Ainslie had hired former Formula One McLaren team principal Whitmarsh to help build his team on and off the water as the most successful Olympic sailor put together a British challenge for the event first held off the south coast of England in 1851.
“Grant’s experience and achievements in the America’s Cup are second to none. He has won the America’s Cup four times, either as a sailor, design coordinator or general manager. He is the right person to help Land Rover BAR achieve the goal to bring the Cup home to Britain,” Ainslie said.
The 40-year-old Briton and his crew failed in their first attempt to win the “Auld Mug” earlier this year in Bermuda, where New Zealand trounced Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s team in state-of-the-art foiling catamarans.
“It feels like the right time to be joining the team at Land Rover BAR with the new class of boat due to be revealed this month by the defender, Emirates Team New Zealand,” Simmer said, adding this would allow the team to focus on its design plans.
As the holders, New Zealand get the right to choose what type of boat to sail in and have opted for a monohull design rather than the multihull catamarans used in Bermuda.
This means teams looking to become the challenger for the America’s Cup must follow a protocol set out by the defender.
Simmer will be in Britain from mid-November to start working with Land Rover BAR and will relocate from Australia in 2018, the British team said.
Reporting by Alexander Smith; Editing by Pritha Sarkar