Team Origin crash out of Louis Vuitton Trophy
Thursday 18 March 2010
Death came very suddenly for Britain's finest when a rueful Ben Ainslie admitted ashore: "That was a very good lesson in how not to run a boat race."
Britain's America's Cup challenger Team Origin went crashing out of the Louis Vuitton Trophy not because its path through to the semi-finals was blocked but because it took its foot off the neck of its Swedish opponents.
A daring move at the start had given Ainslie and tactician Iain Percy a chance to snatch a lead over Swedish opponents Artemis, with two Americans at the back, Paul Cayard and Terry Hutchinson.
As he squeezed across the nose of Artemis with no right of way, Ainslie was handed another boost when the umpires waved away a penalty appeal by Cayard.
On the first leg the British team played classic match racing to secure a lead at the top turning mark and sailed an immaculate downhill leg to start the second lap also in front and able to dictate terms.
But Ainslie and Percy relinquished control, let the Swedes go off on their own to prosper in a favourable wind on the right hand side of the track and when the two came together again it was Artemis which was ahead.
Despite a tear in the foot of the gennaker, Cayard and Hutchinson hung on and, as what had been scheduled as a best of three had been curtailed to a sudden death, it was curtains for the Brits.
"we made the wrong decision at the wrong time and it cost us dearly," said Ainslie. "We misread the situation in terms of everything at the worst possible moment. It was a bit of a kick in the teeth for the whole team."
The reborn Azzurra team from Costa Smeralda also knocked out the Franco-German All4One in the other qualifier, so the table-topping Emirates Team New Zealand immediately chose them as their best of three semi-final opponents, Artemis facing the other Italians, Mascalzone Latino.
For Team Origin there is the prospect of a first sail in the brand new TP52 in which they will contest the Audi MedCup series, starting in Cascais in May.
Podcast: Stuart Alexander talks to Ben Ainslie:
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