June 4, 2017 / 5:54 PM / 2 months ago

Sailing - Ainslie happy to be becalmed as America's Cup racing postponed

3 Min Read

(Reuters) - Land Rover BAR skipper Ben Ainslie admitted his team were finding it hard to compete in light winds as a lack of breeze meant his first America's Cup semi-final against Emirates Team New Zealand was postponed until Monday.

"To be really honest we are not too unhappy about the situation right now ... in the very light airs we do struggle," Ainslie told BT Sport from Bermuda on Sunday.

After a two-hour wait on the island's Great Sound, the organisers of the event said they were postponing the four semi-final races scheduled for Sunday by 24 hours.

For racing to go ahead, America's Cup rules require a minimum average wind of 6 knots (11 kilometres per hour). Below this level is not enough for the high-tech 50-foot catamarans to lift out of the water and "fly" on their space-age foils.

"Light winds may have beaten us today, but we will be back tomorrow when there is a significantly better wind forecast!" the event's organisers said on Twitter.

The crews in the first scheduled semi-final, Emirates Team New Zealand and Britain's Land Rover BAR, had sat on board their catamarans waiting to see if the wind would build, trying to stay out of the beating sun.

British challenger Ainslie had looked relaxed, with the postponement clearly suiting him and his crew.

"We know that and our competitors know that so we want to get through today and look forward to better weather forecast for tomorrow and the rest of next week," he said.

Earlier Ainslie, whose crew did just enough to get through the qualifying round but lacking consistency in both speed and the execution of manoeuvres, had said the pressure was on New Zealand as the "in-form" team.

As the highest scoring challenger during the qualifier round which ended on Saturday, Emirates Team New Zealand chose Ainslie's team as their semi-final opponents, leaving Sweden's Artemis Racing and SoftBank Team Japan to compete in the other.

The team which notches up five wins first progresses to the final to decide who will go on to challenge Oracle Team USA.

New Zealand's Peter Burling, at 26 the youngest helmsman in the competition, said they had chosen Land Rover BAR because they thought the conditions would be in their favour.

While that decision initially looked to have paid off with Sunday's light winds, the postponement to Monday and the forecast of a stiffer breeze will increase Ainslie's chances of beating Burling, based on the British team's performance so far.

On Saturday, Oracle Team USA won the Louis Vuitton America's Cup qualifier event in Bermuda, beating Emirates Team New Zealand and giving the U.S. holders a bonus point for the final.

Reporting by Alexander Smith in London; editing by Rex Gowar and Pritha Sarkar

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