Ben Ainslie will step away from 'driver' duties in SailGP with Giles Scott to take on the role as the America's Cup draws closer

Sir Ben Ainslie has announced he is stepping down as Driver of the Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team. Ainslie will continue his role as CEO of Emirates GBR but will hand over the wheel to double Olympic Gold medallist and America’s Cup teammate Giles Scott MBE.

Speaking after his final SailGP Event as Driver in Dubai, Ben Ainslie said it was “time for the next generation to come through”.

Ainslie said of the decision to step away from the role: “Like any big decision, there’s plenty that goes into it and a lot of factors at play. As the CEO of both Emirates GBR and the INEOS Britannia America’s Cup Team, and most importantly a husband and father, at some point you’ve got to realise that you can’t do everything.

The America’s Cup, which takes place later this year, looms large for many and Ainslie is the second SailGP driver also involved with the Cup to step down in recent months, with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Cup helmsman, Jimmy Spithill, also recently stepping away from the racing circuit to focus on Cup duties.

Ainslie and Scott have a long history, initially competing against each other to represent Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Scott pushed hard and it was an extremely close competition, but Ainslie was successful in selection and went on to secure his fourth Gold medal before retiring from Olympic sailing. The torch was then passed to Scott, who competed at the Rio 2016 games, winning Gold in the Finn class, before achieving the double at Tokyo 2020.

Scott said taking on the role of Driver for Emirates GBR from Ben Ainslie was “a big moment”.

“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.”

Scott has been behind the wheel for many of the SailGP practise sessions throughout 2023, so he should have a decent grasp of what it takes to get the foiling catamaran around the race course.  He joins the Emirates GBR SailGP Team as Driver, alongside Hannah Mills OBE as Strategist, Iain Jensen as Wing Trimmer, Luke Parkinson as Flight Controller, Matt Gotrel MBE, Neil Hunter and Nick Hutton as Grinders and Hannah Diamond as Reserve Sailor.

In his role as Emirates GBR CEO, Ainslie will manage the overall performance of the Team both on and off the water. Strategist Hannah Mills OBE will continue her development behind the wheel of the F50, helping towards her goal of becoming the first female Driver of a SailGP Team. This development continues next week in Abu Dhabi, where Emirates GBR has organised a Women’s Pathway Programme training day on its F50.

Mills will helm the session which will be attended by female athletes from other SailGP Teams to enable them to gain experience and develop in different crew roles.

On his time in SailGP, Ainslie said: “I’ve loved every minute of sailing in the League. We’ve had some great moments and some challenging moments, but I’ve just loved it. It’s the best sailing I’ve ever done in my career, it’s so much fun. We’ve got a great team at Emirates GBR that has a really exciting future and I’m still going to be part of it for many years to come.”

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