Bullish Ainslie back crew to step up
Sir Ben Ainslie reckons his Land Rover BAR team are now prepared for anything Bermuda's Great Sound can throw at them as their America's Cup charge reaches crunch time.
With tonight’s racing postponed because of high winds, Ainslie’s Portsmouth-based outfit remain 3-1 behind Emirates New Zealand in the Challenger Series play-off semi-finals.
The first team to five victories will book a place in the final – which begins on Saturday, so it is crucial the British crew find a way back into the contest tomorrow evening.
Land Rover BAR were 3-0 down when their rivals’ boat capsized in extreme conditions on Tuesday, offering them a way back into the match.
Ainslie reckons his team learned a lot from the skirmishes that night.
And he believes if the wind gets up again tomorrow evening, they will be better for the experience.
‘Tuesday was an incredible day – for all of the sailors out there,’ said Ainslie.
‘For our team, it was the most wind we have ever sailed the boat in.
‘Going through the development phase, the rewards were really not worth the risk.
‘Having gear damage would have slowed up the development.
‘So we had to learn as we were going along.
‘Analysing the video and how we were sailing, there is a lot we can improve on.
‘But if we go out again in similar conditions, I am sure we would do a better job and get faster still.’
Ainslie admitted his frustration at being unable to get out on the water tonight.
However, he supported the decision of regatta director Iain Murray.
And the four-time Olympic gold medallist paid tribute to the shore teams, who face the relentless task of keeping the boats in top condition.
‘It is always frustrating, as competitors, we want to be out there racing,’ he added.
‘At the same time, we have a lot of faith in Iain Murray.
‘He has to make the right decision, in terms of the trade-off between safety and actually being out there and being able to push hard.
‘We had our moments on Tuesday but fortunately the boat is holding up well.
‘It is hard for the shore teams. They are having to manage these boats as we go through this competition, without really any spare days or time to recover.
‘That is part of the challenge. Our boat is holding up well but when we get out there again it will be another tough test.’
In the other Challenge Series play-off semi-final, Softbank Team Japan lead Sweden’s Artemis Racing, which includes Hayling Island’s Iain Percy, 3-1.
Racing is scheduled to resume tomorrow at 6pm British time.