Plain Sailing

Ainsley falls short in America’s Cup

Finally, a chance to talk about some proper sailing! Our boss has allowed me one blog to focus on the great America’s cup, and, after avidly following the action of the foiling catamarans over the last few weeks, this is what I’ve been waiting for!

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Sadly, this blog isn’t the one I had planned in my head of ‘Ben Ainslie proving he’s super-human and capable of winning literally anything he puts his mind to' – instead, it’s with some commiseration that we have a story of ‘so near, so far’ for the British Landrover-BAR team, after they crashed out at the semi-final stage.

Obviously it’s disappointing to crash out before the final (to be held this weekend – watch out for it on the BBC red button!) – but coming from scratch to design and build a super-slick foiling cat with all the latest tech is still impressive (albeit thanks to some very generous donors and £7.5m from UK taxpayers).

Tactically, Ainslie proved himself years ahead of the other (New Zealand) crew, taking a lead from every start.  However, Ainslie’s catamaran wasn’t quite as fast as the NZ boat when trying to go in a straight line, which is what ultimately cost them, and which is something that Ainslie will now go back to his 120-strong UK team asking for.

The other key difference between the NZ and UK teams was that the Kiwi’s have discarded of their winch-handles: they now use pedal-power to control their sails, with crewmembers jumping onto bicycle-like devices to winch faster and tack quicker.  That would be an interesting development to see on charter yachts of the future, please!