Ben Ainslie and the Ineos Britannia America’s Cup team finished fifth (of six) in the second AC40 Preliminary Regatta.
After a heartening start they appeared to have improved from the first AC40 event, where they finished last . . . and hopes were high.
But after that first day the results took a downward turn and stayed that way to the end of the fleet racing.
Even the Americans, who opened with a DSQ, DNS and last on day 1 recovered with a run of 2, 2, 3 to finish above the Brits.
For Emirates Team New Zealand, the America’s Cup defenders, it was a dominent display including five race wins from eight starts, topped with the match-race event win.
And after also making the first Preliminary event final, abandoned due to lack of wind, thay have shown no let-up in their laser focus on all round preparation for their defence of 2024’s 37th America’s Cup match.
INEOS Britannia skipper and CEO Ben Ainslie admitted . . . “It’s a frustrating result but there is still plenty to take away, lots of learnings and massive improvement from last time out in Villanova. That’s pleasing, but we certainly wanted to be higher up the leader board.”
Interestingly he also seemed to finally accept that the AC40 events were useful.
“We have learned way more than we thought we would from these two AC40 events. Disappointing as the results are in many ways, they have been a massive boost to our campaign. Without these events, undoubtedly, we would not have been as competitive next year in Barcelona.”
The two AC40 Preliminary Regatta have been a revelation, with Italy’s refeshed Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team and the Swiss Alinghi Red Bull Racing pushing to the fore.
The AC40 now take a backseat as far as the America’s Cup teams are concerned with focus switching to the much-anticipated new AC75 designs.
And this is possibly a greater worry for British fans, we know Ainslie and Co can raise their game, but will they have a design that warrants the effort?
After racing was revived in the 1950s, following two British defeats to the American Cup holders, with more teams becoming interested in challenging, the unbeaten American defenders adopted a challenger series to choose the team that would compete in the America’s Cup match against them.
Since then, no British team has made it through to race in an America’s Cup match.
The last two America’s Cups have seen the British team sidelined almost as soon as they took to the water, and this time they get just one chance to get the design right . . . a tough call!
Everyone will remember the 2020 New Zealand prelim series where after 3 days of racing INEOS Team UK had not won a race and was bottom of the scoreboard with nil points.
And then much burning of the midnight-oil as frantic efforts were made to ‘improve’ the performance of their second AC75.
With that background a lot is riding on the new AC75 design . . . Third time lucky?
The third America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta will be in August 2024, shortly before the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Selection Series, 29 August to 7 October.