Britain is down but not out

Published on February 21st, 2021

Sir Ben Ainslie formed his America’s Cup team in 2014 to bring the trophy back to Britain, and after falling short in 2017 and 2021, he says he’ll continue until he completes the mission.

While the most successful Olympic nation expected more from INEOS Team UK, it took Team New Zealand 30 years to win it, and Luna Rossa has been trying since the 2000 edition. The long view tends to be the only view.

With Ainslie & Co. now on the sidelines to watch the Kiwi and Italian teams begin their joust on March 6, here are two reports from British sailing journalists:

Matthew Sheahan: I so wanted this stage of the series to go down to the wire. From the evidence of the Round Robin there was every reason to expect that it would.

But in the end, I don’t think it is unfair to say that there was a sense of inevitability about this result. It’s always easier to see what was going on after the final result has been delivered, if nothing else it’s the first time we get to step outside the bubble and look at the series as a whole.

The reality is that Ben and the boys delivered two very impressive starts where they showed that they had the foresight and the skills to mix things up and put the super slick Italians on the back foot during the start.

The trouble was that in both races the early British advantage was scrubbed out barely a third of the way up the first leg. – Full report

Andy Rice: Not that I ever said it publicly, but I’m going to eat my unspoken words that an Italian team would ever be able to win the America’s Cup. And of course, they haven’t. Yet. Beating Emirates Team New Zealand will require yet another step-up from the ever improving Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.

With the exception of the Iain Percy skippered +39 Challenge of Valencia 2007, this is the least Italian team I have ever seen on the Cup trail. No histrionics, no celebrations, constant reminders from Francesco Bruni to his team mates not to ‘high five’ as they crossed the finish line ahead yet again.

Jimmy Spithill’s ‘take no prisoners’ attitude to everything in life is sometimes hard for most of us to swallow, but it’s brutally effective. Jimmy makes for very entertaining TV, especially when he starts ‘coaching’ the umpires about the mistake they just made in not giving INEOS Team UK a penalty. – Full report

The Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series began with a series of four round robins (Jan. 15-17 and Jan. 22-24) in which the winner of the series (INEOS Team UK) qualified for the Prada Cup Final and the remaining two Challengers (Luna Rossa and American Magic) competed in the Semi-Final Series (Jan. 29-Feb. 2). Luna Rossa advanced to the Final (Feb. 13–22), beating INEOS Team UK to earn entry to face the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, in the America’s Cup Match beginning March 6.

More information:
• Complete America’s Cup coverage: click here
• Additional America’s Cup information: click here

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