T heir mission was to bring the America's Cup home. But after 166 years of hurt, the British challenge for the 35th America's Cup ultimately went the way of every other British challenge since that first race around the Isle of Wight back in 1851. From Sir Thomas Lipton to Sir Thomas Sopwith, he of the famous Camel, it has been a miserable run. Knowing they had to win at least two of Thursday's three races against New Zealand to force their play-off semi-final into a deciding day, Sir Ben Ainslie's Land Rover BAR team could win only one, going down 5-2 in the first-to-five series. As they crossed the line in front of a packed race village at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda for the final time, 46sec behind their fast-pedalling Kiwi rivals, lungs and arms on fire from three races in the space of little over two hours, heads naturally dropped. "That's the best we've sailed today by a long way," Ainslie declared defiantly over the radio. It was both a valid point, and an early attempt to shape the post-mortem which will inevitably follow this experience.
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