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Sailing: British America's Cup challenge continues to flounder in New Zealand

Sailing: British America's Cup challenge continues to flounder in New Zealand
December 19, 2020

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – The British challenge for the America’s Cup suffered another major setback on Saturday with Team INEOS UK’s ‘Britannia’ again off the pace in their World Series races, while defenders Team New Zealand threw down a marker ahead of next year’s event.

This week’s America’s Cup World Series is the first time the AC75 foiling monohulls have had competitive races with Ben Ainslie’s British team losing all six of their matches over the three days in a range of light to moderate winds.

They fell off their foils several times in their first race on Saturday against Italy’s Luna Rossa, who finished more than a leg ahead, and were well beaten by American Magic in their second.

Ainslie was picked up on television microphones lamenting his boat’s poor setup and speed in the light conditions and commentator Peter Lester said the comment was akin to “waving the white flag”.

The team were also forced to withdraw from one of their races on Thursday with a cant foil arm seemingly locked in place, which ignited a blistering war of words between Ainslie and Team New Zealand (TNZ).

While Britannia was much more competitive on Friday it was apparent the boat was well off the pace in lighter conditions, and Saturday’s issues will only increase pressure on the well-funded team.

Team New Zealand, however, showed their speed advantage as they clinched the World Cup series when they beat American Magic, who finished second overall, and then Luna Rossa in a bizarre final race with both boats becalmed in the fickle winds.

Peter Burling’s team, however, have had issues handling the boat in race conditions and made several errors under pressure but have been able to overcome them with their superior speed.

TNZ have no further competitive matches after Sunday’s ‘Christmas Cup’ races before they meet the winner of the Jan 15-Feb 22 challengers series in the America’s Cup from March 6.