Ainslie retires from America's Cup trials race with damage

Hazel Gray
June 6, 2017

Ben Ainslie's troubles in the America's Cup trials mounted Monday when the British sailing star was forced to retire from the opening race of the challenger semifinals because of serious damage to the wing sail on his foiling, 50-foot catamaran.

Team New Zealand were ahead early in the third leg of the opening race on the Great Sound when BAR suddenly slowed, leaving the crew scurrying as they tried to identify and potentially remedy the technical issue.

Their shore team couldn't fix their boat in time for race two.

Powerhouse Emirates Team New Zealand, who earned the right to choose their semi-final foe by topping the seedings, selected the British outfit with the forecast for light winds in mind.

"Ultimately, we'll have to switch wings and whether we can get ourselves out for the second race, it's highly unlikely". Team NZ were required to start the second race, using it as a solo practice opportunity, and now hold a 2-0 lead in the first-to-five-wins format. We've had tough times in the past and been able to turn those around and guys are in the shed now analysing exactly what went wrong, fixing the problem.

"It's pretty serious", Ainslie confirmed. The boat almost sank as it returned to the dock after the race.

The race was shaping up to be a cracker, although New Zealand skipper Peter Burling was well in control of the start and was set to ease away upwind, but not after a high flying hull experience as he rounded Mark 3, reminiscent of the team's near capsize in the 2013 America's Cup. The teams were to race again Monday.

"Obviously we're really happy to get the two points in the semi-finals but unfortunately not the way we would like to, over a wounded opponent".

"It was a hard situation for the team, but I'm really proud of how everyone dealt with the situation and we'll come back stronger tomorrow". Team Japan won the first race by 23 seconds and Artemis the second race by 29 seconds.

In the other semi-final series, Team Japan and Sweden shared honours in winning a race apiece.

In the second race, Team Japan had a bad gybe and buried its bows in the water just as the crew was crossing the boat.

Master sailor Sir Ben Ainslie is confident his team can fix their boat and make the start-line for tomorrow's racing against Team NZ at the America's Cup challenger semifinals off Bermuda.

Sweden beat the Japanese twice in round-robin competition, but Japan helmsman Dean Barker was looking forward to another shot.

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