Emirates GBR driver Ben Ainslie has unpacked the contentious moment the Brits were handed a Black Flag in Dubai, ending their chances of making the three-boat event Final.
The incident occurred on the start line of the fifth and final fleet race, with Emirates GBR headed towards the far side of the line. But Taylor Canfield’s USA took advantage of their leeward position and used aggressive match racing tactics to shut the door on the Brits.
Describing the moment, Ainslie said: “We were in pole position really and it was really 50/50 with the USA - they were obviously gunning to shut us out and eventually, the umpires decided that was the case, so it was a really tough call for us as a team.”
The Black Flag meant the Brits were disqualified from the final race, denying them the points they needed to proceed in to the three-boat Final and ending the team’s event. It directly followed the Brits winning the third and fourth fleet races.
Looking back, Ainslie admitted he’d execute the start ‘completely differently’. “But we can’t - and that’s life,” he said. “I’ve been through enough ups and downs in my career to see it with a bit of perspective.”
Canfield was also quizzed about the moment in post-race interviews, arguing that his ‘mentality in the light air’ is to ‘lead the fleet back to the start line’.
“It’s high risk being so far away and trying to accelerate into bad air, so we were always leading back to the line and I think we set ourselves up pretty well.”
He added that the team’s ‘goal is to make sure we’re never the boat barging in’, adding ‘we know how costly it can be’.
“It was unfortunate positioning for Ben, but that’s how it goes,” he said, “We’re here to race.”
Canfield highlighted that the team’s best result of the weekend - a 3rd - was achieved in the same race.
“Obviously we always want more and I think everyone on the team does but to finish the last race with a 3rd and string some things together on board was really cool to see,” he said.
Emirates GBR now sits 4th heading into the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix Presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, just three points ahead of the United States in 5th.