Team GBR to return to the America's Cup?

Great Britain hopes to return as a challenger to the America’s Cup with a team spearheaded by leading Olympic figures, including Olympic medallists Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy and 2012 deputy chairman Sir Keith Mills.

The America’s Cup is the world’s oldest international sporting trophy, with the 32nd edition to be staged in Valencia starting this April. Britain is absent from the 2007 edition, the first America’s Cup to be held in Europe, after Peter Harrison’s GBR Challenge ’04-’07 team collapsed in 2004 due to a lack of sponsorship. However, a formal announcement of a new team is expected to be made in London at a press conference held at London’s Design Museum later this morning, attended by Richard Caborn, Minister for Sport, and Rod Carr, chief executive of the Royal Yachting Association.

It was Carr’s blueprint which helped British sailing to enjoy their most successful Olympics at the last two Games. He also visited Valencia, host city to this year’s America’s Cup, with Mills last July to ‘answer a few questions’. Ainslie, the reserve helmsman with Emirates Team New Zealand and fellow gold medallist Iain Percy, skipper of the Italian 39 team, have already met to discuss a possible entry but not before 2009. “All I know for sure is that he [Mills] has talked to all the top sailors and the top designers too,” Percy said. Carr was more definite, confirming: “Keith Mills is still interested in heading a British bid.”

Sir Keith Mills founded the Air Miles business and, in 2003, was appointed International President and CEO of London 2012, the company that successfully bid for the 2012 Olympics. Having established the London Organising Committee for the Games, Sir Keith has become non-executive Deputy Chairman alongside Lord Coe, and will supervise the staging of the Games in 2012. He is a keen amateur sailor and in 1999 was one of the crew that won the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Look out for an update from the meeting on later today.