America's Cup: Where's the justice, Sir Ben Ainslie? video

Struggling Team Land Rover BAR skipper and CEO Sir Ben Ainslie has plenty on his mind as the America's Cup quickly looms.
GETTY IMAGES

Struggling Team Land Rover BAR skipper and CEO Sir Ben Ainslie has plenty on his mind as the America's Cup quickly looms.

OPINION: The America's Cup isn't always fair and Team New Zealand are no strangers to getting the raw end of things.

That's an understatement and the latest injustice comes via Wednesday's alarming collision with Sir Ben Ainslie when British sailing's golden boy rear-ended the Kiwis.

As Team New Zealand lose precious time undergoing urgent repairs to the considerable damage to the rear of their port hull, Ainslie has quickly patched up his dented bow and is back on the water.

Team New Zealand and Ben Ainslie Racing tangle in Bermuda.
EMIRATES TEAM NZ

Team New Zealand and Ben Ainslie Racing tangle in Bermuda.

Where's the justice in that?

READ MORE:
Johnstone: Cup carnage to continue
Barker: Crash shows it's game on
Dalton: nothing sinister in collision
TNZ face wind and water puzzle

 
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, patron of the 1851 Trust, talks with Sir Ben Ainslie as she visits the Land Rover BAR team.
WPA POOL

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, patron of the 1851 Trust, talks with Sir Ben Ainslie as she visits the Land Rover BAR team.

It's only practice racing but it is officially organised and somehow Ainslie is allowed to sail away free when he was clearly at fault.

Would a stiff-arm tackle in a Super Rugby preseason match escape scrutiny and punishment?

Given the urgency of the situation, as teams look to squeeze everything out of their boats with just nine days left till official racing starts, surely there should be some tit-for-tat here?

RNZ

Team New Zealand's America's Cup campaign has taken a knock after the kiwi boat was damaged in practice racing. But Team NZ's Performance Coach, Murray Jones, says the 'weather gods' have been smiling on the team.

Yes, accidents happen, but why not prevent Ainslie from racing until Team New Zealand are cleared to get back on the water?

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Skipper Glenn Ashby and his Kiwi crew are the victims here yet it seems they are the ones paying a double penalty for something that was no fault of their own – having to fix unnecessary damage to their quick boat and lose development time while they go about that.

Has Ainslie suddenly made himself the new villain in a competition that has never been short of them?

We've loved to loathe the likes of Dennis Conner and Jimmy Spithill, though secretly admired their sailing skills, ruthless instincts and never-say-die attitudes.

The royally connected Ainslie doesn't fit the villain's cape - but he is risking our admiration.

He is an amiable type, something even the Team New Zealand hierarchy were quick to point out in the immediate aftermath to this mess. They know him well.

He was at Spithill's side when Oracle completed their incredible comeback from 8-1 down in San Francisco to beat Team New Zealand and retain the Auld Mug.

Ainslie was tactician and Spithill the skipper, a superstar pairing on the water.

Off the water it was a little different. Ainslie played good cop and Spithill the bad cop in the never-ending mind games that Oracle played with then Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker and the Kiwi syndicate as they slowly but surely wore them down.

Former Kiwi America's Cup ace Chris Dickson probably summed it up best when he suggested the cup was increasingly a young man's game and maybe Ainslie wasn't up to it as he was outgunned by "Pistol" Pete Burling, the young star on the wheel of the Kiwi boat.

But don't cut Ainslie too much slack, if any. It's a ruthless business and right now he is a key opponent, enjoying the luxury of starting the challengers series with a two-point advantage, courtesy of winning the world series sailed over the last two years.

It looks like he might need every point he can get right now.

Ainslie has plenty on his mind. He's CEO and skipper of what has surprisingly emerged as a disappointing challenge. He's already talking about a long-term vision beyond this 35th edition of the cup.

He's struggling for the speed to make him competitive right now and there will be no end of pressures given the money involved.

That will be particularly galling to a sailor who is so ued to winning – don't forget he's the most successful Olympic sailor of all time.

What's been galling to some Kiwi Cup fans is Ainslie's apparent lack of acceptance for his mistake which he described as "a love tap".

His only public utterance came via the convenient social media chanels with a simple "sorry guys".

Who knows if he's reached out to Team New Zealand personally with a more appropriate explanation and apology?

Team New Zealand deserve that, at the very least, as their shore crew works overtime and their sailing team sits idle.

 - Stuff

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