I bet Ben brings it home next time…

LandroverBAR: we all hoped she would be a winner… Credit: AFP

The Sunday Times chief sports writer, David Walsh, is a very good writer. I particularly enjoyed his exposé of cycling and Lance Armstrong a while back.

So I pored over the back page of the ST yesterday, reading the story that had the headline of High Stakes on the high seas.

While we all, comfortably back here in the UK, assumed Sir Ben Ainslie had everything under control in his America’s Cup campaign – the one that offered the promise of racing to win the America’s Cup.

It’s particularly sad that Ben’s team didn’t have anyone to sail against. You can’t just jump into one of these boats and go fast straight away.

You need boats to sail against. Take the AC45s. Ben did well when he had other boats to sail against because those boats gave him some measure of how he and his crew were performing.

And, in those AC45 days, Ben and his team were Doing Alright.

So much so that when it came to The Big Boys, the two points Ben and his team had won in the AC45s kept them in the Bermuda series probably a lot longer than they deserved.

Once they arrived in Bermuda, the real pace of LandroverBAR was obvious to all. She was, to put it in sailor’s parlance, a bit of a dog.

In Walsh’s article, the crew found it difficult to get the boat round the course. Worse still, they could sense the ridicule from their rival teams.

Don’t forget Sir Ben Ainslie is one of the most the most dedicated sailors in the world. For 16 years, he’s been top dog. A household name in the top sailing fraternity. He was The Man.

So to find himself way off the pace and being the butt of humour in Bermuda must have been hard work for him.

And, of course the same goes for the rest of the LandroverBAR team.

So Ben and his team have now got to come home and start virtually from scratch.

And they also have the thought that the New Zealanders didn’t sign up for the otherwise universal agreement that all the teams – apart from Emirates Team New Zealand – were happy to use the same boats for the next two series.

So if ETNZ beats Oracle Team USA, they will have the option of changing everything to what they want…

At least Ben still has the support of his sponsors – like Sir Keith Mills and Sir Charles Dunstone. 11th Hour Racing is also up for more, along with the principal investors.

So it’s now 2019 or 2020 for LandroverBAR to return with the America’s Cup.

I wouldn’t mind betting Sir Ben Ainslie will return with the Auld Mug on one (maybe both) of those years.

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