Sir Ben Ainslie admitted he was bursting with pride despite Land Rover BAR’s efforts to bring the America’s Cup home coming up short.
The Portsmouth-based team exited the 35th running of the famous old competition at the Challenger Play-offs semi-final stages after Emirates Team New Zealand came out on top in their head-to-head battle in Bermuda.
The Kiwi’s went into day three of the latest series leading 3-1.
They extended that advantage with a 31-second victory in today’s opening race – a win that left them just one short in the first-to-five match-up.
With the pressure on, BAR saved their best race to date in the Bermuda event with victory in their next outing to reduce Emirates’ foothold.
However, with New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling stealing a march on Ainslie in race three right at the very start, BAR were always playing catch-up.
And it ultimately proved beyond their reach to close the gap on Emirates as the Kiwis crossed the finish line well ahead of Land Rover to book their place in the Challengers Play-off final with a 5-2 margin of victory.
There Burling’s side will face either Artemis Racing or Softbank Team Japan for the right to take on Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup final.
The Swedes lead that duel 4-3, with two more races scheduled for tomorrow.
Ainslie and Co will look on with disappointment in their eyes as they reflect on what could have been.
However, the team skipper and principal said he remains proud of the efforts made to get his team to this stage of the prestigious event.
And he admitted Land Rover would be back – stronger and better equipped for the challenge ahead.
Ainslie said: ‘We struggled going into this with a lack of speed for a number of different reasons.
‘But the whole team, you know designers, engineers, the sailing team, everyone in the office, they’ve just dug so deep to get us out here and make us more competitive through this competition to the point where we were, actually, I think there wasn’t a huge amount to call between the two boats.
‘So huge credit to our team, a huge thank you to them, I couldn’t be prouder of them and a huge thank you to everyone back home in Britain for supporting us.
‘We hope to be back next time, we will be back next time and we’ll be stronger.’
Ainslie added a lack of speed was an issue for his team since the Bermuda leg of the competition began.
He praised those, however, who ensured the Land Rover BAR boat remained competitive throughout.
‘We were struggling in certain conditions, certainly in the light airs and some other areas around the race course against the competition,’ he said.
‘We were able to address that and again our design engineering short team did a phenomenal job to turn it around from what was not looking good two or three months ago.
‘Ultimately, we didn’t quite get there in time, not through a lack of effort, determination and I think everyone in the team has done a great job.
‘I’m very proud of their efforts over the last few months and over the course of the campaign.’