Sailing: Ainslie fails on European debut

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The Independent Online

A furious Ben Ainslie went crashing out of his European debut at the top level of world match racing yesterday, failing to make the cut for the quarter-finals of the Toscana Elba Cup, part of the Swedish match series, because of a totally unforced error.

A furious Ben Ainslie went crashing out of his European debut at the top level of world match racing yesterday, failing to make the cut for the quarter-finals of the Toscana Elba Cup, part of the Swedish match series, because of a totally unforced error.

In painful contrast, his friend and fellow Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy, now skipper of +39, one of the three Italian challengers for the America's cup, needed only three wins from his group to cruise smoothly into today's final eight.

It was only on a countback that Britain's double Olympic medallist Ainslie had been pushed into the sudden death play-offs after being one of four bidding for the three automatic quarter-final places in his group to score four wins from six starts.

It was the battle of the two Ainslies in the repêchage - his opponent, Ian Ainslie, was representing South Africa's Shosholoza challenge for the America's Cup. Britain's Ben, sailing for Emirates Team New Zealand, had complete control of the pre-start manoeuvres but then pushed for the start line too early. He was convinced that the timing was at fault, but his protests were to no avail and that let the South African into a lead he held throughout the two laps of the half-mile course.

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