Environmentalists want Ineos name stripped from Ainslie America's Cup bid
Sir Ben Ainslie, Great Britain's former Olympic gold medallist sailor, has been urged to find a new sponsor for his bid to win the America's Cup in 2021.
Ainslie's team is being backed to the tune of £110 million ($145 million) by Ineos, the UK industrial firm that is the country’s largest privately-owned company, but environmental campaign groups are demanding the company is banned from having any association with sailing's blue riband event.
An open letter backed by 32 supporters, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, has been delivered to Kim Andersen, president of World Sailing, the sport's governing body.
World Sailing said boats need to comply with its advertising code, which states "anything advertised shall meet generally accepted moral and ethical standards. Any advertising which is political, religious, racial or propaganda shall not be displayed."
The letter, delivered by anti-fracking protester Joe Corre and campaigners dressed as a dolphin, penguin, seal and seagull with plastic bags over their heads (pictured), asks World Sailing to consider the "implementation of an ethical and environmentally friendly sponsorship policy."
It ends: "Under World Sailing's own code of ethics, a core part of 'the spirit of sailing' is a love of the natural environment. Therefore Mr Andersen, in that spirit of sailing and the love of the natural environment, we urge you to take a stand."
In a statement Ineos Team UK said: "As a sailing team, ocean debris is a clear concern, the oceans are our playground and all at Ineos Team UK are passionate about their protection. Since Ineos came onboard, we have been working closely to find ways to effectively tackle plastic debris entering our seas and oceans."
Ainslie’s 2017 America's Cup team was known as Land Rover BAR.
Ineos agreed to come on board for 2021 only if it was the sole investor, meaning that existing sponsors and investors, including Land Rover, had to be dropped.
Ainslie was the tactician for Oracle Team USA when it won the competition in 2013, but the 2017 competition was won by Emirates Team New Zealand, which will play host in 2021, in Auckland.
Great Britain has never won the America’s Cup.
World Sailing response World Sailing distanced itself from the dispute in a statement saying: "The 36th America’s Cup has not yet been sanctioned by World Sailing, the world governing body of the sport, although we expect to sanction the event in due course.
"Any matters regarding the 36th America’s Cup should be directed to 2018 America’s Cup Event Limited and Challenger of Record 36 S.r.l.
"World Sailing does not sanction or otherwise approve sponsorship of competitors or teams. Advertising by racing boats must comply with World Sailing’s Advertising Code which includes an obligation for all advertising to meet generally accepted moral and ethical standards
"World Sailing has laid out its own ambitious commitment to help create a better world through sport through Sustainability Agenda 2030 and we have no reason to believe that the 36th America’s Cup would not comply with World Sailing policy.
"World Sailing's Sustainability Agenda 2030 outlines how the sport will contribute to the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainability Agenda 2030 is split up into World Sailing's six main operational areas with a total of 56 different targets. The targets range from participation to gender equality, water quality to single use plastic.
"More on Sustainability Agenda 2030 can be found here - www.sailing.org/about/Sustainability.php."Sportcal