For a time within the pre-Christmas lead-up to the America’s Cup regatta off Auckland it appeared INEOS Workforce UK would go the identical manner as so many ill-fated British challenges.
The British yacht Britannia didn’t win any of its six races within the America’s Cup World Sequence, failing on one event even to complete the course. In light-wind racing Britannia would wallow sluggishly in a single place whereas its challenger collection rivals — Italy’s Luna Rossa and the USA’ American Magic — swept across the course, balletically poised on their foils.
Consultants predicted Workforce UK would make an early exit from the Prada Cup, perpetuating Britain’s lengthy historical past of Cup failures.
From the very first match in 1851 when the British schooner Aurora surrendered the 1000 Guineas Cup to the USA challenger America in a race across the Isle of Whyte, the British expertise within the America’s Cup has been one among defeat if not calamity.
For greater than a century as the one challenger British groups tried and did not win again the Cup. A few of its richest males — big-game hunter the Earl of Dunraven, the tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton, plane maker Sir Thomas Sopwith — devoted massive components of their lives to the pursuit of the Cup and completed empty-handed.
Within the Cup’s fashionable historical past, after Australia broke the U.S. and Britain cartel, British groups struggled to progress past the round-robin levels of the challengers collection, at finest dropped out within the semifinals.
Workforce UK seemed set to endure the identical destiny. However when it returned after Christmas for the beginning of the Prada Cup, Britannia was a ship reworked. Not solely had it overcome its weak point in mild winds however it excelled throughout the complete wind vary.
Britannia received all of its Prada Cup races and on Saturday turned the primary British boat to qualify for the challenger collection remaining. Skipper Ben Ainslie is aware of the historical past Workforce UK has needed to buck to get to its present place, one step away from racing defender Workforce New Zealand for the Cup.
“We’ve at all times struggled with the America’s Cup,” Ainslie stated. “It began across the Isle of Whyte in 1851 and we’ve by no means received it again. We’re actually not getting forward of ourselves as a result of we struggled coming into this competitors and we’ve had an ideal turnaround.”
Ainslie stated Workforce UK had remained intensely targeted on reaching the Prada Cup remaining, even when the prospect appeared hopeless.
“That was the purpose and we made it,” stated Ainslie. “The boys have finished a superb job. It’s a nice second for the staff as a result of we’ve got clearly had a tricky build-up to this competitors so I’m extremely pleased with everybody.”
Workforce UK has no time to chill out within the three weeks earlier than the Cup remaining begins. It does have the chance to take a seat again and watch as Luna Rossa and American Magic contest the semifinal which is able to determine which staff joins Britain within the challengers collection remaining.
“It’s going to be fascinating to observe these two nice groups duke it out to see who will get into the Prada remaining and we all know that we’re going to be in for an enormous combat there,” Ainslie stated. “The surge for extra pace continues. We’re blissful to have received a couple of races from the place we had been, however we all know we’ve received to get a heck of lots higher if we’re going to win this factor.”
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