America's Cup: Ainslie wants British win after US triumph
Team Oracle USA seals incredible comeback from 8-1 down... 'bugger' says New Zealand PM
BEN AINSLIE became the first Briton to experience victory on board an America's Cup yacht for 110 years as he helped the US sailing team complete one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history, when Team Oracle USA won eight straight races to recover from an 8-1 deficit to beat New Zealand 9-8.
The four-time Olympic champion was drafted into the Oracle crew midway through the series, when the US team were trailing their challengers, Team Emirates New Zealand. After Ainslie joined as tactician, the American boat won nine out of 13 races to seal a remarkable win.
"The impossible happened," says The Times. "The wave of momentum that had brought Oracle from the brink of defeat was more than enough to push them over the finishing line, as they defeated an increasingly desperate New Zealand crew by 44 seconds."
The extraordinary events of the final week of the competition helped prevent the "plutocratic sailing tournament sinking into pre-ordained ignominy", reports The Guardian.
The build-up to the event was marred by "accidents, boycotts and bickering", it explains, and the American team's capitulation in the final series appeared to cap a disastrous tournament.
"Then the script changed. Oracle, a zephyr from defeat, rejigged its crew and mounted a spectacular comeback which electrified the contest."
Ainslie was so inspired after the race that he declared an interest in leading a British challenge next time out.
"While the four-time Olympic gold medallist's contribution was undeniable, no British boat has ever triumphed in the America's Cup - and that is something Ainslie is looking to change," says the Daily Telegraph.
The nail-biting events of the past week may have stirred up interest in the UK, but they have not gone down well in New Zealand, where the regatta has been attracting huge TV audiences. Kiwi Prime Minister John Key summed up the mood of the nation in a pithy tweet:
— John Key (@johnkeypm) September 25, 2013
The country's parliament also paid tribute to the vanquished team, but New Zealand Herald sailing writer Dana Johannson is pessimistic about their future prospects. "After three straight failed campaigns, it is difficult to see Team NZ being able to get the funding together for another campaign," she says.
In her view the USA comeback was based on "superior money and resources" rather than better seamanship. "It is just a shame for every great comeback there has to be a great collapse," she adds. ·