OPINION by Sir Ben Ainslie
Winning that dramatic race against Luna Rossa on Saturday and qualifying for the Prada Cup final, after all we went through as a team over Christmas, felt fantastic.
But we're not getting carried away. We're acutely conscious of the fact that we haven't achieved anything yet. All we have done is win a couple of races. That is why you might have heard me over the team radio in the immediate aftermath of victory telling the guys to settle down.
It's fine to celebrate a win, particularly one as dramatic as that. But as a team we know we were coming from a long way back. We were miles off the pace pre-Christmas and it took a serious effort to turn the boat around. But no one is standing still. We have to keep our foot to the floor and keep improving.
That is why it was so important to us to win the round-robin phase and advance to the Prada Cup final. These next three weeks provide us with an opportunity to make significant improvements to Britannia.
There is always a balance to be struck between implementing upgrades and time on the water. Indeed, there is an argument that it would have been better to compete in the semi-finals and stay "match fit".
But the truth is some upgrades can take three or four days to carry out. Unless you have that extended time off the water, it's impossible to implement them. We're happy we're going to have that opportunity.
We know we still have weaknesses.
We struggled in the lighter breezes before Christmas and I would say we're still not entirely comfortable at that end of the wind range.
We were arguably fortunate to meet American Magic rather than Luna Rossa on day two of the Prada Cup when the winds were at their lightest.
Wind strength could be a big factor in this weekend's semifinal with American Magic having shown how quick they are in the mid- to upper-wind range, and Luna Rossa really good in the light stuff.
Just seeing American Magic back at all will be great.
The America's Cup is the pinnacle of sailing and we are all fierce competitors on the water.
But as a sailing family we are tight-knit. It was gut-wrenching to see their capsize and the damage they sustained. You couldn't help but imagine if that was you. I asked one of our senior engineers whether we would have been able to make it back for the semi-finals had the same thing happened to us and he said, 'No chance'.
I wish them all the best. It's going to be a massive effort so it was great to see all the other teams step up and offer their support.
In fact, I think the whole event thus far has been great for the sport's image. There are no guarantees when you set out to build a brand new race boat, especially ones as complex as these radical foiling monohulls, that they are going to be evenly matched.
We all went away and worked behind closed doors.
There could have been huge speed differences. But the racing has been incredibly tight, with every challenger having its own particular sweet spot.
The results have largely come down to good sailing and tactical calls rather than superior boat speed.
A lot has been made of our afterguard and the fact that we have sacrificed some grinding power to free up our tactician, Giles Scott, and incorporate an extra flight controller in Luke Parkinson.
And we are happy with the way it has gone.
Giles and I understand and trust each other better all the time. But these boats are so complex. There are still huge gains to be made in terms of how to extract the maximum from your boat.
And it is a trade-off.
I want to give a shout out to our grinders, because to be honest we were not 100 per cent sure when we planned the set-up a year ago that we would have enough power across the wind range.
They all set PBs in their last fitness tests pre-Christmas and it's testament to their hard work and commitment that they are generating what we need. And we have needed every last watt.
Saturday's race was unbelievable.
Nine lead changes and it all came down to that final cross on the final leg. I said afterwards it was one of the best races of my career and that was no exaggeration.
It was a wonderful advertisement for our sport and this class of boat. It's hard to tell how the race might have panned out had we not had that issue with our cunningham (one of the controls for the mainsail).
For sure it didn't help. But it was so patchy and puffy out there, that there is no way of knowing. I was just happy with the way the team reacted to the setback. There was no panicking. We found a solution and then did the best we could.
It was great, too, to see Sir Jim Ratcliffe on the boat after the race. Jim is not the kind of guy who stands up and makes Churchillian speeches in the team base.
He lets us get on with the job. But he is unbelievably competitive. He understands what it takes to win and he wants to know what is going on.
He's a great supporter and the fact that he and fellow Ineos owner Andy Currie have made the effort to get out here and put themselves through quarantine to support us is not lost on anyone.
My final word goes to everyone back home in the UK. We understand what the country is going through right now. We know just how fortunate we are to be out here, sailing and competing.
We don't take it for granted. We want to make you proud.
That is why there is no room for complacency.
We're not thinking about New Zealand. To win the America's Cup first you have to win the Prada Cup.
That is all that we are focused on.
Heading into the Cup racing?
• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It's the best way to ride.
• Don't forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America's Cup Village.
• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.