America's Cup: Sir Jim Ratcliffe's mission to succeed at 'the one challenge the UK has never brought home'

As if steadying the ship at Old Trafford wasn't challenging enough, Sir Jim Ratcliffe is obsessed with trying to win a prize more elusive for Britain than the Premier League trophy for Manchester United.

Sailing's America's Cup is the oldest competition in all of sport but it's never been won by Britain in its 173-year history.

Sir Jim is back with INEOS for another attempt to win at a sport dubbed "Formula One of the ocean" as billionaires battle with their technical supremos.

And it's with a boat named after the former royal yacht - Britannia was unveiled at a naming ceremony in Barcelona on Saturday - that the petrochemicals entrepreneur hopes to rule the waves.

It's a heavy workload alongside the core business for Sir Jim, who bought into United alongside the Glazers by buying a 27.7% stake in February on a mission to win their first Premier League title since 2013.

He told Sky News: "Manchester United's another sporting challenge and it's a very, very big one. It's probably one of the biggest ones in the world.

"But this, I think for the UK, this is one of the biggest sporting challenges you could find to win the America's Cup… we've never won it."

The mission is being led by Britain's most successful Olympic sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie, as team principal working with Sir Jim.

"All the big decisions we will discuss and debate," Sir Ben told Sky News.

"He's driven so much and I'm sure that's a big secret of the success."

Already an America's Cup winner with Oracle Team USA in 2013, Sir Ben has seen the benefits of collaborating with the INEOS sports portfolio - particularly the F1 team at Mercedes.

United isn't playing into the America's Cup planning but it has raised the profile of INEOS.

"He's very, very passionate about that," Sir Ben said. "We've seen already quite some changes at Man United and we expect to see a lot more to come.

"But that's a whole other challenge… and it'd be great to see Man United get back to the heights of where it has been in the years gone by and I know that's the intention."

There is an FA Cup final next Saturday against Manchester City - with the men hoping to emulate the women's success at Wembley earlier this month.

And before the new football season starts, United's new part owner will be hoping for sporting celebrations through the INEOS cycling team and Mercedes F1.

But the complex curiosity of sailing also means INEOS still isn't sure of being in the ultimate title series for the America's Cup.

The winner sets the terms for the challenge with rivals facing off on the shores of Barcelona to take on the Emirates-funded New Zealand.

"It is the sport with the most jeopardy," Sir Jim said. "It's a unique sport. It's obviously steeped in history and heritage. But years in advance the defender and the challenger sit down and they cook up a challenge. And a technical envelope for a challenge three or four years out.

"And you recruit all these designers and engineers and you work within that envelope.

"You come up with in the modern world, of course, that boat is 100% designed on immense computing power. And then you get to the stage where we are at the moment and you put the boat in the water.

"But the first bit of jeopardy is - does the boat do what the last thousand days of computing power have told us it will do?

"We don't know. And for the last America's Cup, our boat did not do what the computer said it would do."

Then there's the jeopardy of not knowing if rivals have stolen a march with a design angle you haven't thought of.

'Never brought home'

Now there are just three months until the challenger selection series here in Barcelona and the British presence is already dominating.

A vast Union Jack was raised on a crane by the Mediterranean Sea as Sir Jim gave this interview.

He said: "You would expect that the UK would have won because a lot of our heritage and history in the UK is sailing.

"It's the one challenge that we've never, never brought home."