2012 Olympics chief Mills to back 'F1 of sailing'

By Mark Kleinman, City editor
The entrepreneur who led London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics is to lead Britain's charge into a new global sailing league being bankrolled by Larry Ellison, the Oracle billionaire.
Sky News has learnt that a company led by Sir Keith Mills, who founded the Air Miles and Nectar customer loyalty programmes, is to run the British leg of a new international tournament that will get underway next year.
The sailing industry has been abuzz with speculation for months about Mr Ellison's plans for a competition that will effectively act as a rival to the America's Cup.Insiders said that Sir Keith's Origin Sports Group would play a pivotal in the new series' efforts to build a following in Britain, with the tournament expected to be broadcast on free-to-air television.Under the plans being hatched by Mr Ellison, teams will compete from countries including Britain, the US and Japan on boats similar to those which competed in the last America's Cup.Next year's series is expected to comprise races in five countries, with the number doubling in 2020.A launch event has been scheduled for a venue on the River Thames early next month.Sir Keith, a keen sailor himself, was a shareholder in previous British America's Cup efforts alongside Sir Ben Ainslie, the most successful Olympic sailor of all time.Earlier this year, the venture was sold to Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of chemicals group Ineos, in a €110m deal.Sir Keith has an extensive list of other sporting commitments on his CV, including as chairman of the Invictus Games and a decade on the board of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
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