L-R: Chris Draper, Great Britain SailGP Team CEO; Ben Ainslie, Great Britain SailGP Team helmsman and INEOS TEAM UK Principal and Skipper; SailGP CEO Sir Russell Coutts

Sir Ben Ainslie – the most successful Olympic sailor of all time – has joined the Great Britain SailGP Team.

Sir Ben, who lives on the Isle of Wight, will join a world-class squad of athletes for the event which attracted thousands of spectators to Cowes this summer.

Beginning in the global league’s second season kicking off in February 2020, sailing’s newest and fastest championship that boasts the sport’s largest monetary prize of US$1 million.

SailGP Season 2 starts in Sydney (February 28-29), before returning to the U.S. for events in San Francisco (May 2-3) and New York (June 12-13).

Cowes was recently announced as the first European event of Season 2, returning August 14-15, 2020, after a hugely successful event during the championship’s inaugural year.

Sir Ben’s SailGP team will be fully announced early next year, utilising a combination of athletes from INEOS TEAM UK – the British challenger for the America’s Cup – and existing members of the Great Britain SailGP Team.

The crew will pilot the revolutionary F50, which this year eclipsed the 50-knot speed barrier for the first time ever in sail racing, against at least five other national teams beginning in Sydney on February 28-29.

Sir Ben is the most successful sailor in Olympic history, having competed and won medals – including four golds – at five consecutive Olympic Games (1996-2012).

Following a win in the America’s Cup with ORACLE TEAM USA in 2013, Ainslie formed his own team for the 2017 edition, and is now leading INEOS TEAM UK’s bid to win the 36th America’s Cup, which will take place in New Zealand in 2021.

Sir Ben said:

“SailGP has proven itself as one of the most exciting sailing leagues, with top level competition and racing in iconic venues across the world.

“The cutting-edge technology, speed and athletic requirements of the championship will provide a great sporting challenge. The Great Britain SailGP Team had a fantastic first season, and we’re excited to be part of this journey as the league continues to grow.”

SailGP CEO, Sir Russell Coutts, said:

“We couldn’t be more pleased to have one of the most successful Olympic athletes of all time – across any sport – join our global championship.

“With crucial support from INEOS, Sir Ben Ainslie and the Great Britain SailGP Team will be contenders from day one and will create even more thrilling competition across our growing league.”

Current Great Britain SailGP Team grinder Matt Gotrel joins Ainslie as the second official team member of the 2020 squad.

The British team finished the inaugural SailGP year in fourth, behind podium finishers Australia, Japan and China, and ahead of France and the United States.