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America’s Cup – Teams now racing in Bermuda…

Oracle Team USA sailing on the Great Sound, Bermuda Sam Greenfield/Oracle Team USA
Oracle Team USA sailing on the Great Sound, Bermuda Sam Greenfield/Oracle Team USA

Iain Murray, the Regatta Director, has come out before to set up the race courses, continue to learn more about the venue and the weather, and conduct racing that gives the teams an opportunity to line up against each other.

This is the third time ACRM has conducted this type of racing in Bermuda. But with the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers now just over four months away, there is a renewed sense of urgency. This may be practice, but the real thing starts soon, so undertaking the discipline of a simulated race day is something the competitors are taking seriously.

“There’s a lot to it for the teams. Suddenly there is a procedure and process of immovable times that you have to meet and be prepared for,” Murray says. “That’s not usually a part of everyday life. Usually you can be a bit more flexible. But now you have to get to the race course, ready to race, by the start time.”

On the water, Murray says this is an opportunity for him and ACRM to continue the learning process.

“This is the third time we’ve done this. We’re getting a handle on the performance of these boats, the speed and angles, which helps us set up the race course,” he says.

“We’re also thinking about how we fit everyone in around the race course – the superyachts, the spectator boats, the finishing line off Cross Island, the starting box. There’s competition for real estate out there and we’re working on that.”

Chris Draper, the wing trimmer and sailing team manager for SoftBank Team Japan says these sessions are invaluable.

“It’s great because you’re on the race course area, so there’s a local knowledge build there,” he says.

“You also get to check in and see where you’re at against the other teams. These aren’t the boats we’re going to race in the America’s Cup but a lot of our thinking and strategy is all played out in these races, so it’s a good check in.

“The limitations are that you don’t necessarily have your race equipment, in terms of boards, for example, so you’ve got what you’ve got and it’s a case of just getting out there and doing your best with it. But all the teams are in that same position.”

Draper says the simulation is about more than just what happens on the water. The shore crew gets practiced in race day preparation as well.

“The more you can make a race day the same as a practice day, the better,” he says. “If we can look at exactly how long it takes us to get the boat ready, and launched and through our pre-start routine, the more we’ll be ready when the real racing starts in May.”

Only four of the six America’s Cup teams are based in Bermuda to participate in this race period. But Iain Murray says the offer to conduct racing has been made to all teams, and Groupama Team France and Emirates Team New Zealand gain as well.

“Firstly, they’ll benefit from everything we’re learning out here. That benefits all the teams,” he says. “The offer for us to go and run courses and put the discipline in to a race day is a discussion we’ve had with both the French and Kiwi teams and there is still talk about this.”

But for the next couple of weeks, the focus will be on Bermuda’s Great Sound, where the America’s Cup race course will be getting a work out from the four Bermuda based teams.


Team NZ launch new boat in hopes of America’s Cup ‘redemption’

Team NZ - Emirates - Online Shop - Click the pic!
NZ Team Emirates – Online Shop – Click the pic!
Just moments before Team NZ lowered their freshly blessed and christened new development boat into the water for the first time at the Auckland Viaduct base, Grant Dalton declared it their most significant step along the path to “redemption”.

The syndicate boss was referring, of course, to the chance for atonement that very much motivates Team NZ as they work towards the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda, and another crack at lifting the Auld Mug off Oracle after coming so agonisingly close in San Francisco in 2013.

It’s been a long time coming, and by their own admission they start a fair way behind all their principal rivals for next year, but finally Team NZ have their own boat on the water and can start the process of refinement that will spit out the 50ft catamaran to race next year’s America’s Cup.

Up until now they’ve been working away on the testing boat bought from sidelined Italian syndicate Lunar Rossa, as well as on the less developed AC45s that they compete in on the world series circuit.

But now they have their own custom-designed 45ft catamaran that for all intents and purposes will be the precursor to the real thing in Bermuda. This first generation of Emirates Team NZ, complete with so many of the specs for next year, will be tested and probed and refined to eventually form what they’re adamant will be the next Cup winner.

Team NZ develops new boat

“We’re in it to win it and we’re trying to do everything we can to be competitive against competition that will probably be way stronger than it’s been the last couple of America’s Cups,” said Team NZ chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge after a special ceremony at the team base.

The new boat was given a special Maori blessing by dignitaries from Ngati Whatua and then christened in the traditional manner by Lady Margaret Tindall, wife of Team NZ director Sir Stephen Tindall, before being lowered into the water to have its hull wet for the first time.

Dalton told the gathering of team members, officials, sponsors, media and interested onlookers that it was “as complicated a boat” as he’d seen in his time, and one that had more effort put into it than any he had been involved with. An estimated 35,000 man hours had gone into its design and construction.

Added Shoebridge: “This boat really is an accumulation of nearly two years of design work by 25 designers and a lot of work by the shore team to get it ready in time. It’s a major stepping stone to being successful in Bermuda next year.”

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Land Rover BAR up to second in America’s Cup World Series as Artemis Racing win in Chicago

Land Rover BAR - Sir Ben Ainslie (right) and his crew on the podium in Chicago Credit: Lloyd images
Sir Ben Ainslie (right) and his crew on the podium in Chicago Credit: Lloyd images

Land Rover BAR up to second in America’s Cup World Series as Artemis Racing win in Chicag.

After the frustration of seeing light winds once again wreak havoc with an America’s Cup World Series event, forcing the cancellation of Saturday’s entire race programme in Chicago, organisers managed to stage all three ‘Super Sunday’ races yesterday.

Artemis Racing, the Swedish challenger which is led by Britain’s two-time Olympic champion Iain Percy, made the most of winds of 12-15 knots, finishing top of the standings, but it proved to be an excellent regatta, too, for the British entry Land Rover BAR.

Sir Ben Ainslie’s team finished the event in second place after posting a first, a fourth and a second in Sunday’s three races. But just as importantly they saw Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA stutter on Lake Michigan in the first ever America’s Cup regatta to take place on freshwater, the Kiwis and the Americans only able to finish fourth and fifth out of the six teams.

Sir Ben Ainslie shows Kate round America’s Cup base

That enabled Land Rover BAR to leapfrog Oracle Team USA and rise to second place in the overall standings, 10 points behind Emirates Team NZ.

Saturday’s cancelled programme had meant that Friday’s ‘substitute race’, in which Land Rover BAR finished fifth, counted.

Land Rover BAR – America’s Cup

But with points counting double on ‘Super Sunday’, Ainslie’s team made an excellent start, leading from start to finish in the first race of the day to win by 54 seconds from the Swedish challenger Artemis Racing.

Despite the absence of tactician Giles Scott, busy winning the Finn dinghy class at the Weymouth World Cup as he prepares to compete at Rio 2016, Land Rover BAR backed that up with a fourth and a second place to finish the regatta with 58 points in total, three less than Artemis.

In the final race they made a brilliant start but then had to fight back from a penalty to snatch second place on the line.

“What can I say, today was brilliant racing, and it’s great to showcase the sport this way, and show how good it can be,” Ainslie said. “The guys onboard did an incredible job, in these conditions it’s all about boat handling and the fitness required. I can’t say enough about the boys and the great job they did today.

“The starts are harder than it looks, we’ve been practising a lot as the starts are critical to this style of racing. We had two crackers, especially the last one which was really important.”
For the Love of Sailing Play! 00:30

The top two finishers from the world series carry points through to the challengers series at next year’s 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda. The winner of that series will earn the right to take on holders Oracle Team USA in the final match.

The America’s Cup World Series requires teams to race in identical foiling 45ft catamarans while they develop test boats back at their respective bases in preparation for next year’s event when they will race in the so-called ‘Cup Class’ of foiling catamaran.

The next World Series regatta is Land Rover BAR’s home event in Portsmouth next month from July 21-24. Ainslie’s team won on home waters in 2015.

“Now we’re getting to the business end of the series, it’s tight between ourselves, Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA,” Ainslie said. “So we’re all really excited about the next event in Portsmouth. To perform so well in front of a home crowd last year is what it’s all about for us, so we can’t wait for the event. Last year was just incredible, hopefully we can repeat, looking forward to brilliant conditions for Portsmouth.”