Ben Ainslie's Land Rover BAR has been knocked out of the America's Cup by Emirates Team New Zealand and their faster boat
Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR were knocked out of the America’s Cup today after a conclusive demonstration by Emirates Team New Zealand that they have the faster boat.
All of Ainslie’s match racing nous, covering tacks and working of shifts, the fantastic organisation, sponsors’ and investors’ millions ultimately could do little to halt Steamship New Zealand.
Even their win in the second of three races today, probably as brilliant a race as Ainslie has ever sailed, couldn’t disguise the fact that the Kiwis have a superior machine. Indeed Land Rover BAR’s win in race two may have flattered; it seemed from the New Zealand team’s occasionally unstable flight that they were having some problems, most likely with foil controls.
Sure enough, after a visit from the shore team any problems had been ironed out by the time Emirates Team New Zealand returned for the final race and they went on to leave the British boat in their wake.
Ben Ainslie talked to us about the races right after the finish.
It is a sad moment for Land Rover BAR and their many supporters, not least because the team Ainslie has put together is so professional and representative of British talent.
But Ainslie was composed in defeat, congratulating New Zealand and saying of his campaign:
“I couldn’t be prouder of the team today. It’s been an amazing journey for us.
“Three-and-a-half years ago, a few of us were sitting round a table in an office in London with nothing more than a few ideas and some support from a few early investors like Sir Charles Dunstone and Sir Keith Mills. What we have achieved from there is phenomenal really.
“OK so ultimately today we didn’t get that America’s Cup home. We knew it was going to be incredibly tough at our first attempt and certainly where the team has come from in the last couple of months and the performance gains we’ve made are a huge credit to everyone in the team, our designers, our engineers and our shore team.
“Congratulations to New Zealand. They’ve proven they’ve got a great package and we wish them all the best for the rest of the competition.
Asked why they lagged behind the other teams, Ainslie said: “I think ultimately we weren’t able to catch up the existing teams in time. We are one of the newest teams and catching up with those years and years of experience, expertise and engineering design is incredibly difficult.
I would say we are the most improved team…and it shows the potential we have.”
But Ainslie did have some very good news, saying: “Today Land Rover have re-signed with the team as our title and exclusive innovation partner” as has 11th Hour Racing.
He added: “Already the work is starting on the next campaign and we will be that much stronger.”
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Artemis Racing find their sweet spot
It was a very different story in the other three races of the day. Artemis Racing had also been 3-1 down, but they carried out a fantastic turnaround by winning all three of their races today against SoftBank Team Japan.
These races were much more evenly matched in speeds and the control issues that Artemis clearly had on windy Wednesday had obviously been resolved and they were back in their sweet spot.
They won the first two races off the start in what was really something of a drag race.
But on the final race, they stole SoftBank Team Japan’s lead after a heart stopping, high speed convergence at the final leeward gate. Artemis came screaming in to tack just underneath SoftBank and claimed they had not been given enough room. It was frighteningly close.
The umpires gave a penalty to Barker and Artemis took the advantage and stretched it out to finish well ahead.
Speaking of the close call at that mark, Outteridge said: “I’m really happy there was no collision and the umpires ruled in our favour on that one.”
Was that unnerving? “Yes absolutely. These boats are often quite unnerving.”
Listen to him describe it in this interview with us.
“It’s quite hard when you are approaching each other so quickly and you don’t have the best vision of the other boat also, and we ended up sending Iain Percy a little bit early and he said it was on so we dropped the board and went for the tack inside.
“And as soon as I got a good view of them I went full lock on the wheel to make sure I didn’t go through them.”
The results today means Artemis races SoftBank Team Japan again tomorrow in the first-to-five series to decide which team will race Emirates Team New Zealand in the playoff finals this weekend.