Sir Ben Ainslie apologises to Team NZ for crashing, though: 'That's part of racing'
Sir Ben Ainslie has apologised again to Team New Zealand, but put his crash driving down to "pushing the limits" and dismissed it as "part of racing".
Ainslie, the skipper and CEO of his self-named British syndicate - Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR), rear-ended the Kiwis in official America's Cup practice racing on Wednesday (NZ time).
It left Team New Zealand incredulous and hugely frustrated, facing several days of the water repairing major damage to the rear of the port hull of their AC50 catamaran.
Ainslie's bow was quickly repaired and he is back on the water, just nine days out from the start of the actual regatta.
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"These races are great for us as a team to get out there and really push the limits," Ainslie said.
"Sometimes push the limits a bit too far as we found with Emirates Team New Zealand in the final prestart yesterday.
"We were trying to go for a final push on the line and the gap just wasn't there with damage to both boats and that's not what any of us want at this stage.
"So certainly, apologies from me but that's also part of racing. It happens and both shore teams are doing a fantastic job dealing with the aftermath."
It was an uncharacteristically sloppy mistake by Ainslie, a cup winner with Oracle last time and the most successful sailor in Olympics history, after he got cleaned out by Team New Zealand's young gun Peter Burling.
Ainslie noted the weather was being kind to the sidelined Kiwis. Practice racing on Thursday (NZ time) was called off after one race and predicted light airs for Friday have already seen officials cancel racing.
Team New Zealand have indicated they might not be sailing again till Sunday. The last day of racing in this practice block is Saturday.
The damage has eaten into Team New Zealand's preparations. As the last team to arrive in Bermuda, they are desperately short of time on the water in practice racing and training, something Ainslie acknowledged.
"The weather at the moment is very light winds so hopefully Team New Zealand don't lose too much time out on the water, out on the race course with their preparations," Ainslie said.
"Each day is absolutely critical right now."
He said that was particularly the case for his team whose debut challenge has been hit by a lack of speed that clearly has their skipper frustrated.
"We have been on the back foot a little bit in terms of straight line speed. We are working really hard to rectify that."
Ainslie said they still had more components to put on the boat.
"We hope they will get us closer to the other teams."
The first races in the round-robin challenger series start on May 27 (NZ time).