AC35: Day 8, Playoffs Race 1 – GBR v. NZL
Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing v. Emirates Team New Zealand. Ben Ainslie v. Peter Burling. As predicted there's plenty of wind, 16-20 knots. The AC Village is closed today because this was a scheduled lay day, being used after racing was not possible yesterday due to lack of wind. At least we will be spared the annoying crowd shots on TV.
Today's good breeze should be better for the Brits than the light air in which they have struggled during the Qualifiers.
In the pre-start NZL seems to be keeping well clear of GBR (wonder why), and they lead back to the starting line. GBR, astern, can't get a hook to leeward. NZL blasts off the line in the lead, doing 44 knots. It's a boat race through the Leg 2 gate, but Ben crashes off the foils and loses pace as he is rounding up. Shortly thereafter, whether related or not who knows, Ben unloads the boat and stops. There is a scrum at the base of the GBR wing, with a lot of chatter about a broken camber arm – part of the mechanism that changes the shape (and depth), hence power, of the wing.
After a confusing couple of minutes, with NZL having dialed back but still racing around the track, Sir Ben radios the Race Committee and says they are retiring. Chief Umpire Richard Slater radios all the yachts to say they have "black-flagged" GBR which awards the race to NZL without them needing to complete the course. Race over, barely after it starts.
Now Sir Ben is being interviewed by Ken Read, who is expressing all due remorse and condolences. The shore team is out on the water and on the GBR yacht trying to see what's wrong, and if they can fix it on the water. If not, they have to tow back to the base, swap to their back-up wing, and do all that in 40 minutes – so they can race today's second Semifinal match against ETNZ. Not likely.
Next up SWE v. JPN, the first race of their Semifinal.
Your Ed. will update this when we know more. Another sad day for LRBAR. I'll bet NBC is happy they are carrying this on the App, not on NBCSN.