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Sir Ben Ainslie: "Reports of our America's Cup demise have been greatly exaggerated"

Sir Ben Ainslie is adamant that his Land Rover BAR team can still win the 35th America's Cup. Photo: HARRY KH

In May 1897, the great American humorist, novelist and social critic Samuel Clemens — best known by his pen name, Mark Twain — was in London. It was one of the stops on a round-the-world speaking tour he’d embarked on in 1895. He hoped to use the fees from speaking engagements to pay off the considerable debts he owed in the United States, due to a series of unsuccessful investments and publishing ventures. While Twain was in London, someone started a rumor that he was gravely ill. It was followed by a rumor that he had died. According to a widely-repeated legend, one major American newspaper actually printed his obituary and, when Twain was told about this by a reporter, he quipped: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” [Source: This]. A photo of the key part of his letter to the New York Journal (the paper of the day) shows the actual quote: "...the reporting of my death was an exaggeration."

Courtesy of

Regardless, Sir Ben Ainslie's use of a version of the Mark Twain quote seems appropriate if not ironic. The truth is that Mark Twain was in poor health though he did not die until 1910. He lived to fight another day.

LANDROVER BEN AINSLIE RACING is, by all accounts, in poor competitive health. So far, they have been way off the pace at least vis-a-vis the other top teams ARTEMIS, ETNZ and OTUSA. I hope BAR come good, because we need ARTEMIS, BAR and ETNZ all to be competitive if AC35 interesting is going to be interesting.

So I admire Sir Ben's gumption and forthrightness in using the Twain quote and allowing this column to be penned for him in today's Telegraph (UK) newspaper (with thanks to our good PNW sailing friend "Stingray" for the link). Ben was key to the OTUSA comeback in 2013 when, down 8-1 against the Kiwis in a first-to-win 9 series, most had left OTUSA for dead. Time will tell whether the reports of BAR's death are exaggerated, greatly or otherwise.

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