Ainslie demonstrates his ability to lead a crew in San Francisco
Cornwall's Olympic sailing hero Ben Ainslie boosted his hopes of making his mark as an America's Cup contender with a very solid week's work in San Francisco, California.
Ainslie, who became Great Britain's most successful Olympic sailor when he claimed the fourth gold medal of his Games career in the Finn class off Weymouth this year, was only just nudged into second place in the fleet racing final standings in the second round of the America's Cup World Series on Sunday.
The World Series events are part of the build-up to next year's 34th America's Cup in San Francisco, when the United States' Team Oracle will be defending their trophy. Ainslie's J.P. Morgan Ben Ainslie Racing team, launched in January this year with the support of Team Oracle, are taking part in the World Series in a long-term quest to lay foundations for participation in the 35th America's Cup.
After finishing tenth in the opening round of the World Series in San Francisco in August, Ainslie's team returned to California last week and proved themselves to be very competitive. At the end of the seventh and last race of the series on Sunday, Ainslie's AC45 catamaran and Jimmy Spithill's Team Oracle boat were level on 79 points.
Spithill's crew took the series honours by virtue of their victory in the final race, in which Ainslie finished fourth. Spithill won only two of the seven races while the more consistent Ainslie came out on top in three, but the Cornwall-trained sailor did not moan about the scoring system.
"That's the deal, and you have to accept that," said Ainslie, whose team ended up seventh in the match racing championship last Saturday.
After Sunday's finale to the regatta, Ainslie said: "I couldn't be happier with the way the week has gone, in terms of traning and preparation. It's where we want to be and it gives us a great foundation for the future. The guys just did a fantastic job sailing the boat fast." The World Series concludes in Italy next year, racing off Venice in April and Naples in May.