British skipper Ben Ainslie has emerged as the newest villain in the America's Cup game following yesterday's run-in with Team New Zealand.

The Kiwi team sustained signficiant damage to the hull of their boat after being rear-ended by Ainslie in the pre-start of yesterday's practice racing.

The incident occurred after Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling had done a good job securing the favoured leeward end of the line and shutting out Ainslie and the Land Rover BAR boat.

As the Brits bore away they plowed into the back of the Kiwi boat.


While Team NZ boss Grant Dalton did not believe there were any sinister motives behind the collision, many sailing fans appear to disagree.

Ainslie's cheeky apology on twitter yesterday, in which he downplayed the incident by describing it as a "love tap" drew a furious backlash.

Several fans took to twitter to blast Ainslie for his "unsportsmanlike" actions, and suggested his explanation and apology lacked sincerity.

"How was that a love tap? A more authentic apology would be appropriate," wrote one observer.

Another said the incident was a "clear indicator that [Ainslie] does not really belong in these boats or this regatta".

But suggestions that Ainslie had deliberately rear-ended the Kiwi boat were vehemently rejected by some.

One British fan described the four-time Olympic champion as a "gent" and said the "Twitter trolls" needed to move on.

Dalton told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking this morning that while Ainslie's actions were reckless, he did not believe they were deliberate.

"Ben just mis-timed it, and he hit us. He was 100 per cent in the wrong and it's one of those things - it just doesn't normally happen in the warm-up lap," he said.