Sir Ben Ainslie vowed to return even stronger after Land Rover BAR were eliminated from the America’s Cup in the Challenger semi-final in Bermuda.
Before the day’s racing, Land Rover BAR were 3-1 down in the best of five series, and two further losses confirmed the end of their campaign.
In the first race, Ainslie’s team were beaten despite holding a healthy lead off the start line, but then gave themselves hope in race two before their opponent’s secured progression in the day’s final race.
Despite the obvious disappointment, Ainslie however expressed his pride at the team’s performance in their first America’s Cup campaign, and vowed to keep progressing towards the next event.
“I’m so proud of the team and what they’ve achieved,” he said.
“I put the team together and I’m responsible if we win or lose. You need to stay strong, keep the team together and we’re already working on the next campaign, we’ve got a great group of guys.
“We’re bitterly disappointed to lose races and not continue in the America’s Cup but that’s sport and the America’s Cup is a tough game.
"I know with the team we’ve got and the support we’ve now got, we’re going to be a really strong outfit for many years to come.”
Defeat means Britain’s wait to bring sport’s oldest trophy home goes on with Ainslie unable to replicate his heroics of 2013 where he helped Oracle Team USA overturn a deficit to New Zealand to win.
This year’s America’s Cup has seen significant advances in boat technology and systems, and Ainsli – who announced that title sponsor Land Rover and 11th Hour Racing have committed their support for the next campaign – believes his team can make big strides towards the next event.
“I think this America’s Cup class has proven through this competition to be an incredible boat,” he added.
“There were a lot of questions about multi hulls and match racing, I think they are great boats for the racing we are doing, incredible spectacle both on the water and televisually.
“There are probably a few tweaks we can make to make it more compatible across a wider wind range, and I know the teams are looking at that.
“Other than that I think they’re a fantastic technical challenge and physically for sailors out on the water. It’s a huge, huge challenge but when you get it right it’s so rewarding.
“These boats are so tough to sail, they’re on the edge the whole time and there’s a lot of respect amongst sailors amongst how difficult that is.
“When something goes wrong like capsizing you didn’t see people crowing about it or blaming Peter Burling or his crew because we know that could just as easily be us tomorrow, that’s how hard you need to push these boats and mistakes will happen.
“When you push them and get it right it’s the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my sailing career and I think the cup with these boats and this format has great potential for future.”
Elsewhere, Artemis Racing, led by Briton Iain Percy, produced a remarkable turnaround by winning all three races to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead heading into the final day of racing.
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