Great Britain suffers disappointing first day ruined by ‘three terrible starts’, Ainslie says

Great Britain – 7/30/2022 – by Miranda Blazeby, SailGP Digital Editor – Home favorites Great Britain ‘need a good day tomorrow’ after a disappointing first day of racing in Plymouth ruined by ‘terrible starts’, driver Ben Ainslie has said.

The Brits struggled off the start line amongst a congested fleet in all three fleet races and were pushed to the back of the pack amid jostling competition.

Speaking about the team’s performance, driver Ainslie said: “It wasn’t a great day – we’ve made life really hard for ourselves with our starts, which were terrible.”

He added that the team would be ‘going away and trying a different approach’. “We were trying something a little bit different today and it clearly wasn’t working.”

However, the Brits proved their pedigree by steadily sailing back through the fleet, and even converting a ninth place position to a fourth place finish in the second fleet race. They finished the day in fifth place, with three points separating them from the top three.

“We had bad starts but we did a good job from there on in getting through the fleet so we’re still in the mix just about,” Ainslie said.

He attributed the team’s ability to move through the fleet to ‘reasonable speed, generally good boat handling and trying as best as possible not to panic too much when we’ve had a bad start’.

“It’s tough because everyone is sailing the boat so well now, there aren’t as many opportunities for us as maybe there were in Season 2.”

The team’s first fleet race of the day got off to a bumpy start after an off-camera collision with Spain, after which Jordi Xammar’s team was docked four penalty points.

Speaking about the collision, Ainslie said: “We were fighting for the bottom end of the line and so were the Spanish – we were there on the gun and they tried to come in tight and there wasn’t really enough room.”

He added that it was a ‘tough’ situation. “They just ran out of runway effectively but thankfully there wasn’t too much damage”.

After the first day of racing, Peter Burling’s New Zealand sits at the top of the leaderboard, ahead of two time champions Australia and Quentin Delapierre’s France.

Racing resumes on the iconic Plymouth Sound on Sunday, July 31 at 2pm BST.