Sir Ben Ainslie is stepping down as driver of the Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team to be replaced by two-time Olympic gold medallist Giles Scott with immediate effect.
Sir Ben will continue his role of Emirates GBR CEO, but said the decision was ‘probably the toughest decision’ of his sporting career, but added ‘it’s time to let the next generation come through’.
“Like any big decision, there’s plenty that goes into it and a lot of factors at play,” he said. “As the CEO of both Emirates GBR and the INEOS Britannia America’s Cup Team, and most importantly I’m a husband and father, at some point you’ve got to realise that you can’t do everything.”
Sir Ben described Giles, who is also his teammate on the INEOS Britannia America’s Cup Team, as ‘one of the best in the sport’.
“He’s an incredible sailor, one of the best I’ve ever raced with, but he’s also a very mature, level-headed person and that’s why I think he will do a fantastic job in SailGP,” he said.
Giles added: “I’ve got some catching up to do, but the Emirates GBR Team is a great squad, everybody involved is hugely experienced and top-quality sailors.
“I’ve got to step up to the mark and do the best job I can to fill those big old boots that Ben’s left behind.”
Ainslie, who first took on his role as driver for Emirates GBR ahead of Season 2 in 2019, will continue now focus on the team’s overall performance both on and off the water.
Strategist Hannah Mills will continue in her role, supported by the team in her ambition to become the first female driver of a SailGP team.
As part of this, Emirates GBR has organised a Women’s Pathway training day on the British F50 ahead of racing in Abu Dhabi, with Hannah helming the session alongside female athletes from other SailGP Teams.
In 2022, Sir Ben and Hannah set up the Athena Pathway Programme (APP) which aims to fast-track development for youth and female sailors, level the playing field and bring diversity into the sport at its highest level, both on and off the water.
The next SailGP event will take place in Abu Dhabi.