New Zealand helmsman praises Ben Ainslie’s technical nous

Glenn Ashby, right, admitted that Sir Ben Ainslie's Land Rover BAR team were worthy winners  Picture: Malcolm Wells
Glenn Ashby, right, admitted that Sir Ben Ainslie's Land Rover BAR team were worthy winners Picture: Malcolm Wells
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Emirates Team New Zealand’s Glenn Ashby believes Land Rover BAR were worthy winners of the first leg of the America’s Cup World Series.

Sir Ben Ainslie’s team were crowned winners despite no racing taking place yesterday due to the adverse weather conditions.

The Old-Portsmouth-based team amassed 19 points from the first two races and took the overall honours by a point from New Zealand.

Helmsman Ashby said: ‘Full credit to Ben and the boys, they did a fantastic job on Saturday.

‘They managed to hold us off for a point. Well done to them, they did a great job.

‘For us, it’s really the first event since the America’s Cup in 2013 when we came so close.

‘It’s great to get back on the water and race.

‘It was only our 10th day on the water on the AC45 as a team and it’s a fairly fresh team going forward.

‘We’ve still got a lot of work to do to get our boat handling right.

‘I think Ben and the boys have spent quite a lot more time on the water than us over the last year and a half and that showed.

‘Their boat handling and the way they got round the track was really impressive.

‘We’ll review the video and then hopefully we’ll be able to step it up a level in Gothenburg.’

The Australian sympathised with fans about the race cancellation but admitted that the health and safety of the crews was paramount.

‘It’s a real shame for everyone involved,’ the 37-year-old said.

‘The support people have shown, particularly for Ben was fantastic. I feel really bad that people didn’t get to witness some fantastic sailing.

‘As competitors we all want to go out there and race. We all love pushing the boats hard but when it does get to those extreme limits, it does become a serious safety issue and I fully respect the racing committee’s decision to cancel racing.

‘Whether it be MotoGP or Formula One, when safety becomes an issue, it’s a difficult one to argue against.’

Dean Barker, from Softbank Team Japan agreed with his fellow competitor.

He said: ‘At some point you have to take away the competitive streak and see what’s safe for all the teams.

‘It’s been great, we’ve had a fantastic time.

‘The Solent’s a difficult venue, which is a good challenge but we’ve really enjoyed our time in Portsmouth.

‘The conditions on Saturday were challenging but you have to get used to it.

‘It’s given us a lot to work on and we’ll try and prepare for the next event.’