Ainslie outfoxes France after lacklustre start

Land Rover BAR v Groupama Team France. Picture: Gilles Martin-Raget/ America's Cup
Land Rover BAR v Groupama Team France. Picture: Gilles Martin-Raget/ America's Cup
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SIR BEN AINSLIE breathed a sigh of relief after beating France in a gripping affair in the America’s Cup Qualifiers round robin two.

Land Rover BAR had been thrashed by New Zealand in their first contest, retiring after the Kiwis had passed the finish line.

But Great Britain showed true grit and determination against France and now look highly likely to qualify for the Challenger Series play-offs.

Racing was postponed on Wednesday due to light wind speeds and conditions were not much better in the Caribbean yesterday.

Ainslie admitted his crew were not good enough against New Zealand as a failed gybe after the first gate threw away any chance of winning.

But the four-time Olympic gold medallist insisted his team will work hard to improve their speed.

He said: ‘We had a pretty bad wipeout, stuffed the bows in and it killed all of our speed.

‘It was a frustrating moment as we had a pretty nice start.

‘Our performance wasn’t good enough in those conditions.

‘We’re not scheduled to race tomorrow, so we will try and figure out a way to get our speed up in those lighter conditions.’

There was hardly anything between Land Rover BAR and the Kiwis in the early stages.

They passed the start line at the same time before New Zealand went around the first gate with just a half-a-second advantage.

However, disaster stuck when Ainslie’s boat failed to complete a gybe virtually came to a standstill.

The Kiwis got their manoeuvre perfect and stretched clear, and a huge cry of ‘what happened?’ from Ainslie told the story.

After Burling & Co crossed the finish line, Land Rover BAR’s skipper radioed officials to inform them Britain were retiring.

However, Land Rover BAR came out with their tails up against France.

Franck Cammas’ crew received a two-length penalty in the pre-race start area which, ultimately, proved costly.

The two went hammer and tongs throughout the contest, with the places constantly switching at each gate.

But Ainslie was brave with his tactics in the run for home and Land Rover BAR sealed the win.

In the other races, SoftBank Team Japan gained a crucial victory against France.

The pair were level on two points before their meeting but Japan got the better start, shooting away from their rivals at the beginning, and extended their lead.

However, Dean Barker’s team were put to the sword by Auld Mug holders ORACLE Team USA later in the day.

Jimmy Spithill’s American boat came from behind to win the race by 33 seconds.