America’s Cup: Sir Ben Ainslie wary as rivals raise game

Land Rover BAR starred in Portsmouth last month
Land Rover BAR starred in Portsmouth last month
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Sir Ben Ainslie is refusing to get carried away by Land Rover BAR’s start to the 35th America’s Cup.

The record-breaking Olympian led his British team to glory in the opening race in Portsmouth last month.

Second spot in the only other contest possible that weekend has given them a narrow advantage heading into round two in Gothenburg, which starts today.

But while his big rivals are already playing catch-up, Ainslie will be taking nothing for granted as he plots a course to the 2017 finale in Bermuda.

The 38-year-old, who has five Olympic medals, including four golds, said: ‘We are really excited to be in Gothenburg for the second America’s Cup World Series event.

‘The weather has not been great. It has been pouring with rain since we got here.

‘Portsmouth – and the opening of the series – was great for us as a team.

‘To come away with a win was brilliant.

‘But as the teams are developing, we are under no illusions about the strength of the competition.

‘It is a different race course here in Gothenburg, so we will have our work cut out.

‘But we are really excited about getting on the water and getting stuck in to the racing.

‘We need to go out and perform well but it is great for us to get racing again.’

Just like in Portsmouth, two races are scheduled for this afternoon with another two set to follow tomorrow – weather permitting.

Land Rover BAR, who are based in Old Portsmouth, racked up 19 points in round one, giving them a one-point lead over Emirates Team New Zealand heading into the racing in Sweden.

The Kiwi outfit were runners-up to Oracle Team USA, who sit third on 16 points, when the America’s Cup was last contested in 2013.

Ainslie & Co have been buoyed by the return of bow Giles Scott from his heroics in the Finn class at the Olympic test event in Rio last weekend.

The skipper said: ‘It’s good for us to have Giles back from his holiday!

‘He did a great job. Undoubtedly he is the favourite in the Finn class.

‘He had a tough start to the event but to pull back through the fleet and win a really close medal race was great.

‘Obviously he is a key part of our team as a tactician and it is good to have him back.’

Scott, meanwhile, is hoping his win in Brazil – which continued a two-year unbeaten streak – can give his team an extra lift this weekend.

‘I managed to come away with a pretty challenging victory,’ he said.

‘I had a bit of a tricky start but I would love to be able to take the win from Rio and inject it into this next World Series event in Gothenburg.

‘Obviously we had a great start in Portsmouth.

‘And as a team we feel like we are in a pretty strong place.’