MADE BY MEMBERS • October 2020
Right now, Sir Ben Ainslie – titan of Olympic sailing and principal of Ineos Team UK – is in New Zealand, preparing for the 36th America’s Cup race. And thanks to this exclusive chat with The Club, we know exactly what he got up to on the flight there. Just in time to celebrate the release of Ineos’ official capsule wardrobe – The Britannia Collection – designed by British heritage brand Belstaff, we sit down with the Gold Executive Member to talk all things travel
What are your three in-flight essentials?
First of all, a pair of comfy bottoms. Especially for long-haul flights. Many years of trial and error later and I’ve decided that comfy pants make all the difference when it comes to getting some sleep. Second, a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones are an essential. Beats and Sony (Currys PC World; 1 Avios/£1) are both great. Lastly, something good to read. For the flight out to New Zealand I’ll have to get my hands on the new Piers Morgan book, Wake Up (Waterstones; from 1 Avios/£1) It’s always an entertaining read with him!
Belstaff has just released The Britannia Collection in collaboration with Ineos Team UK. Does it fit with your style?
As a team we’re very lucky that Belstaff is around to make us look good, and my own sense of style – not claiming that I have one – would probably be closest to Belstaff than any other brand out there: very clean, very classic and easy to wear. I know a lot of the guys on the team feel the same way. All of us are proud to be representing Britain and are proud to be kitted out in an iconic British brand.
Do you have any favourite pieces from The Britannia Collection?
The Trialmaster, definitely – such a great piece. The inside lining is basically a gilet in itself. It’s one of those jackets that would be smart enough for a nice restaurant, yet casual enough for a trip to the cinema. We’re quite simple, really, we blokes. We just want something we can put on and not have to think too hard about! It does, however, mean a lot to us as a team to have the Ineos team badge incorporated into the lining. It’s something that’ll always remind us of this time and this team.
Ben looks back at three months of sailing on UK waters and ahead as the team relocates to Auckland for the America’s Cup
Where can we find your favourite hotel in the world?
It has to be Sugar Beach in St Lucia. It’s a beautiful resort on a gorgeous island – what more could you want? You’ve got the two Piton mountains just on the other side of the bay, but every corner of it is picturesque. We really relaxed out there. My only challenge was persuading the guy in charge of the sailing boats to let me out on them. Every day he would say, “No man, too windy today!” And though I tried to convince him otherwise, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I actually know quite a bit about sailing. Finally, on the last day we came to a friendly truce and he let me out on the catamaran.
If you could live in any city in the world, where would it be?
I love home, but Sydney is by far my favourite city. Sydney Harbour (pictured below) has some of the best sailing anywhere in the world and the city itself is really quite beautiful – the architecture has a very 1950s, Thunderbirds feel about it, which I love. In summer, the harbour comes alive with thousands of boats of every shape and size. It’s pretty special.
If you could ‘redo’ a past holiday, which would you choose?
San Francisco. I first visited San Francisco in 2001 when I did a road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway from Seattle, where I was living at the time, and again for the 2013 America’s Cup. We’ll be racing there in the SailGP competition in April 2021 and I can’t wait to go back. Driving down the Golden Gate Bridge and eating at Ozumo Restaurant just off the Embarcadero seafront are two of my favourite things to do. A trip to The Presidio park is also a must, as well as a stay at Hotel Zetta (booking.com/from 4 Avios; £1) in the SoMa district.
Which destination tops your bucket list?
For the marine life alone, the Galápagos (pictured below). It’s one of the top diving spots in the entire world and looks so secluded and wild – my kind of place. I’ve had a couple of friends go there, and all of them have really lifechanging things say about it. I’d fly into South America and then make up the rest of the journey sailing, of course! That’s the biggest of part of the appeal.
How long have you been a part of the Executive Club?
I’ve been flying with British Airways for about 30 years or so – I’ve racked up a lot of miles over the years! I’m Gold Tier and really appreciated the Tier extension that was put in place to make up for the recent restrictions on travel. I thought that was a nice move. British Airways has been very good to us over the years. We think it’s a fantastic airline.
What’s the best part of being in the Club?
I couldn’t tell you how many Avios we have, but we do put our spends on the British Airways American Express Credit Card, which I know keeps them topped up ready for a cabin upgrade or Reward Flight somewhere nice. The lounges make a huge difference, too. I’ve spent a lot of time in the flagship lounge at Heathrow and think it’s fantastic. Overall, it’s the British Airways route network that does it for me. You can get pretty much anywhere in the world, and you’ll be well looked after as you travel.
Ben is the latest ambassador for Belstaff. To get your hands on the heritage brand’s Britannia Collection, click here