«The British team ended its participation in the America's Cup on June 8». Land Rover BAR lost both races yesterday to their rivals Emirates Team New Zealand. The total score in the semi-finals was thus 5-2 in favour of the New Zealanders.
The departure of Britain did not come as a big surprise. Early in the competition in Bermuda, Land Rover BAR skipper Ben Ainslie admitted that his team was struggling to keep up with the pace of competition imposed. Ainslie built the project from the ground up: finding funding, hiring experienced sailors, designers and managers and turning them into one of the most professional teams in Cup history. However, as previous experience suggests, this regatta is incredibly difficult to win at the first attempt.
Nevertheless, it wasn't a bad attempt: the Brits managed to take first place in the Louise Vuitton World Series, proving to everyone that they are a force to be reckoned with.
In the qualifying series, by which time the teams had moved into their new ACC catamarans, Land Rover BAR had won only four races out of ten.
The same story was in the semi-finals. On the first day the British were brutally unlucky to break the sail-wing control lever. They could not switch to back-up control and lost the first two races. After winning the start on Tuesday, Ainslie could only watch sadly as the faster ETNZ boat caught up and overtook them.
In the next race, Ainslie earned a point after a spectacular capsize by the New Zealanders. The British managed to put the Kiwis in a vulnerable position on the pre-start and were the first to cross the start line. Trying to catch up with their opponents, the New Zealanders made a pitchpole.
On Thursday, Land Rover BAR needed at least two wins to stay in the series. In the first race they led again from the start. Team NZ had a problem on board and they started late, losing 26 seconds to the Brits at the first sign. But even that big of a gap wasn't enough to win. The much faster Kiwis simply raced past their rivals to the finish line.
The second race was arguably one of the best races for Land Rover BAR. The team didn't give up under the threat of match point and managed to keep their rivals behind, earning that much needed point. The hopes of the British fans were once again strengthened: Land Rover BAR had a chance to fight for the Cup again, extending the semi-final until Friday. But in the third race, luck didn't smile on Britain's side as Peter Burling's team managed to grab the lead from the start. And for a faster boat, this is almost a 100% win.
«I am really proud of the way we did today and our approach to the series," said Ben Ainslie after the event. - We struggled with our lack of speed and our whole team was digging our noses into the ground to make us more competitive. I'm very proud and want to say thank you to everyone in Britain who supported us. We didn't get to our goal, but it wasn't because we didn't try hard enough... We'll be back».
Land Rover have already confirmed their intention to support Ben Ainslie's team in the next edition of the America's Cup «» .
In the meantime, Britain is left to watch the others struggle. The second semi-finalist will be decided today in the Artemis Racing match against SoftBank Team Japan. The Japanese team was very successful on Tuesday, winning both duels with the Swedes, but on Thursday could not continue the winning streak, losing all three races of the day. The score thus became 4:3 in favour of Artemis. «If Dean Barker's team manages to win both matches today, the Japanese will advance to the semifinals for the first time in America's Cup history».