New Zealand pick Ainslie's British crew as next America's Cup opponent
Sailing

New Zealand pick Ainslie's British crew as next America's Cup opponent

03 June 2017 / 21:31
Sir Ben Ainslie insists he is up for the challenge ahead of a head-to-head battle with in-form New Zealand to keep alive his America's Cup dreams.
m4036_crop169014_1024x576_proportional_1496517855E105Ainslie's Land Rover BAR crew recorded a win over Japan, followed by a defeat to defending champions Oracle Team USA, on the final day of the first stage of racing in Bermuda.

Jimmy Spithill's US crew now progress straight to the main event, where they'll start with a one race advantage thanks to their overall win in the qualifiers.

New Zealand skipper Peter Burling was the best of the challengers with eight wins and two defeats and had the choice of opponent in the play-offs - either Ainslie or rivals from Sweden or Japan.

Ainslie's British crew, who end the first stage of qualifying with four wins and six defeats, have lost both their encounters with the Kiwis, while Sweden and Japan will showdown in the other play-off, with Franck Cammas's French team eliminated.

"It's going to be a close race and to win the America's Cup you've got to beat the best teams," said Ainslie, ahead of the first of potentially nine races on Sunday.

"Team New Zealand have proven throughout the qualifying rounds they are sailing really well and very fast across the range of conditions.

"It'll be a real battle but we are up for it and looking forward to it."

Ainslie's four golds make him the most successful Olympic sailor of all-time but Burling is viewed as one of his sport's brightest rising stars, becoming the youngest 49er skipper to win gold alongside Blair Tuke in Rio last year.

Dubbed 'The Iceman', he may be a match-racing rookie but he was pretty nerveless when singling out Ainslie as his next opponent, as the British skipper sat stoney faced alongside him.

"We've decided to face Ben because we believe, with the forecast over the coming week, that's our best chance of progressing forward," he said.

Sportsbeat 2017

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