Sir Ben Ainslie: Land Rover BAR still believe despite damage to hopes
SIR BEN AINSLIE remains confident his team can put things right after a dismal start to the challenger play-off semi-finals for Land Rover BAR.
Due to a damaged wing, the Portsmouth-based outfit had to retire from race one and then could not line up for race two tonight.
With Emirates Team New Zealand gifted a 2-0 lead prospects look bleak.
The first to five progresses to the challenger play-off final and Land Rover BAR will be desperate to win both races tomorrow on day two of the sem-finals.
Ainslie said: ‘It’s tough for the team to lose two races like that so early on, considering what is at stake here.
‘The guys are analysing what exactly went wrong, fixing the problem and we will be back out pushing hard.
‘I have got a lot of belief in the team that this is something we can come back from.
‘We have had tough times in the past and been able to turn those around.
‘Unfortunately we had a break down in the wing control system which meant we had to stop and it was bad enough that we had to pull out of the race.
‘The next thing was trying to get back to the dock to put on our spare wing but unfortunately we just ran out of time before the second race.
‘It doesn’t get any worse than that for the team to have lost two key races that way.
‘The positive was we felt like we’d improved the speed and the performance of the boat.
‘We will come back fighting and it’s another day. The team still believe we are in this and can make it happen.’
Damage to the wing caused the retirement from race one and could not be solved in time for race two.
That meant Emirates Team New Zealand were gifted the first point and simply had to cross the start to go 2-0 up later as they then enjoyed a training lap instead of racing.
After hearing a bang during what was set up to be a tight opening race, the British skipper abruptly halted his 50-foot foiling catamaran after completing only the second of seven gates in the widely-anticipated first race.
They had fallen behind after the New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling got the better of Ainslie at the start and led to the second gate.
But it certainly looked like Land Rover BAR were going to be getting back into contention.
Burling was disappointed not to have the chance to race but he’ll certainly take the 2-0 advantage.
He said: ‘It’s never something you want to look across at your competitor and know they have got some pretty serious damage on board.
‘We felt like we were in for a real battle and it’s a bit of shame there wasn’t much of a battle but we are still happy to walk away with the two points.’
In the other semi-final, Artemis Racing and SoftBank Team Japan finished the day level after Japan took the first race but paid for mistakes as Iain Percy’s team made it 1-1.