36th America’s Cup: Sir Ben Ainslie hails INEOS TEAM UK’s ‘unsung heroes’ on day two in Auckland

Sir Ben Ainslie hailed INEOS TEAM UK’s “unsung heroes” after the team put aside a day of technical problems and faced Emirates Team New Zealand twice on the second day of the PRADA America’s Cup World Series Auckland.

After a challenging opening day, which included the British team having to retire from their second race, fans of the INEOS TEAM UK had every right to be concerned those issues may have seeped into another day.

However, when it came down to it, the British charge had worked exceptionally hard through the night to be out on the water and ready to meet the defenders, twice in quick succession.

The other head to head on the second day featured Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team and New York Yacht Club’s American Magic duelling twice.

PRADA America’s Cup World Series Auckland – Double Round Robin

A better day…

After months of preparations, day one turned into a nightmare for INEOS TEAM UK as they were plagued with significant technical issues linked to one of the supplied elements; the foil cant system.

All teams have developed and are racing AC75 boats; every boat is seven tonnes in weight and operates by foiling – lifting up out of the water and flying just above it.

The technology involved is complex, and as the first day’s issues showed, one problem can erase a team’s chances in a flash.

“We had a much better day,” Ainslie said after two races against the home side on the second day of racing.

“It feels a bit strange to say that losing two races was a positive, but certainly from yesterday and the issues we had, it was a much better day for the team.”

A difference in speed…

The opening duel between INEOS TEAM UK and Emirates Team New Zealand started strongly with the two outfit’s jostling and showing off their manoeuvres.

That pre-start with closing speeds of over 100MPH 😳

"That was a pretty full on pre-start with such a tight pre-start box and the start line being offset as it was, we didn't expect to be having dial-ups in these AC75s but that was our first one." – @AinslieBen #ACWSAuckland

As the home team started to get into their groove and create a healthy lead, a miscommunication on board meant they came extremely close to hitting a glass fibre windward mark which is 900kg in weight!

It allowed Ainslie and his team on BRITANNIA to close some time back, but as the race continued, it was clear the defenders had speed on their side, which allowed them to take victory by one minute and 32 seconds.

“Credit to Pete (Burling) and his guys, they sailed well, and they certainly have a quicker performance than us,” Ainslie said.

“The most concerning thing for us now, is about how we go about closing that gap? That’s what we’ve got to work on over the next few weeks.”

Our first race of the day sees @EmiratesTeamNZ take the win by 1:32 in shifty conditions.

"We had a good race. We were a click off the pace with the Kiwis but that is where we expected to be at the moment. The guys did a good job." – @AinslieBen

The second race between the two commenced later in the afternoon and had moments that thrilled the avid fans watching on the shore and on Sky Sports.

The close calls between these exceptional boats are breath-taking and at one point, there were three lead changes during one downwind leg.

However, again the Kiwi’s speed proved to be telling, and this time they took victory by one minute and 42 seconds.

Unsung Heroes

Every member of INEOS TEAM UK is fiercely competitive so will be disappointed to have lost back-to-back races, but the fact they were out on the water, and competing freely, was a huge positive.

“It’s pretty much always an all-nighter for the shore team at the moment, they’re getting an absolute flogging with these boats,” Ainslie noted.

“They really are the unsung heroes of this America’s Cup, all of the guys here [the skippers] would say that. You just can’t say enough about your shore team.

“These boats are hugely technical and take a lot of resource to keep them operating. Our guys are amongst the best. We’re hugely grateful they turned it around, got us back out on the water.

“They’ll be pulling another all-nighter tonight and going on and on. Their commitment is seriously impressive.”

The racing continues with day three, live on Sky Sports, on Saturday. INEOS TEAM UK will duel with both Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team and New York Yacht Club’s American Magic before the PRADA Christmas Race arrives on Sunday.

Watch every moment of the America’s Cup challenge, live on Sky Sports. Coverage starts with the America’s Cup World Series on Saturday from 2am on Sky Sports Mix.

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