Cool heads pay off for Ainslie and Land Rover BAR
Sir Ben Ainslie admiited cool heads helped Land Rover BAR claim victory in the first Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series event of 2016.
The Portsmouth-based outfit topped the leaderboard in Oman after the first day of action – winning two of the three scheduled races and coming third in the other.
With Super Sunday offering double points on day two, it was all to play for on the Arabian Peninsula.
And although BAR couldn’t repeat the heroics of Saturday’s performance, the second, fourth and third-place finishes they secured was enough to claim overall victory from the regatta.
After an action-packed weekend of racing, Ainslie & Co finished first in the standings with 76 points.
That was only two points better off than reigning America’s Cup holders Oracle Team USA (74) and six clear of Emirates Team New Zealand (70).
But it could have been so much different if BAR Team Principal and skipper Ainslie hadn’t have dragged his side through the fleet in today’s second and third races.
Early starts in both races ensured penalties were dealt out to the British boat.
However, led by the skipper, the BAR crew kept their cool to ensure a memorable weekend in Muscat.
And that pleased Ainslie when overall victory was sealed.
‘It was pretty tough, we would have liked better starts,’ he admitted.
‘We were pushing for the leeward end, but it’s a bit all or nothing.
‘You either come through with pace or not, and you have to push so hard to get clear air that there is always a danger of being early.
‘Unfortunately we were over early in those last two races and that makes it particularly hard because you get rolled by the fleet and you are starting dead last.
‘But no-one dropped their head, and we just kept fighting through it.
‘Good teamwork from everyone, and Giles (Scott) did a great job on the tactics to get us back through the fleet.’
The win is the team’s second in the series, after victory last summer in Portsmouth.
It leaves BAR in third place overall in the America’s Cup standings – behind New Zealand and the USA.
But with the next World Series event scheduled for New York in May, Ainslie was delighted to put down another marker in distinguished company.
‘The win is particularly important for us as a new team, some of the established teams have a track record and for us, we need to prove that we can compete at the top of this America’s Cup fleet,’ he added.
‘I think that we are doing that.
‘It’s important for our team back home, we’ve got a big squad of boat builders and designers and everyone else working really hard, long hours and they want to believe that we can really win this thing.
‘I hope that we are proving to them that we can.
‘For all the guys at the base, supporting at home in Portsmouth, they should share in this win, we’re in it together.’