Early barometer reading from Bermuda

Published on March 27th, 2017

When the six teams launched their 15-meter America’s Cup Class boats, it was understood that restrictions within the protocol would keep them apart until racing began on May 26. However, the five teams weren’t eager to wait that long so the rules were changed.

The Defender and a majority of Challengers are needed to change the protocol, with only Team New Zealand voting against as they are still training in New Zealand. The change on March 16 allowed for seven training periods of which the first was just completed.

What was learned? The two returning teams from 2013 – Oracle Team USA and Artemis Racing, who split their matches against each other – are the best at this stage and the newer teams are not.

The differences at this stage are straight speed and boat handling, two critical variables that are likely to be what’s needed to win the 35th Match.

While it was expected that Groupama Team France would be struggling, as they have had the least amount of time on the water, the pounding taken by British Challenger Land Rover BAR was a bit of shocker.

After winning two and losing eight, one of the losses being the French’s only win, Land Rover BAR Team Principal and Skipper Ben Ainslie saw the racing as “a really useful few days sailing against the other teams just ahead of our next design upgrade window.”

Hopefully the upgrade upgrades their speed, but as Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill advised, it is still early days.

“There are design differences and speed differences and it would be easy to read too much into what we’ve seen the last few days. The fact is, I think everyone only has one set of foils at this point, so in lighter winds everyone was compromised somewhat.”

The next two training periods will be April 6-7 and 10-12, both of which the Kiwi team will miss as they will be in transit to Bermuda. If they choose, the Kiwis should be ready by the April 24-28 session.

Background: The 35th American’s Cup has attracted six teams (5 challengers and 1 defender) that will compete in the new 15-meter AC Class, with a series of qualifiers beginning on May 26, 2017 that lead to the start of the America’s Cup Match on June 17, 2017. Complete schedule.

Source: ACEA, The Royal Gazette, Scuttlebutt

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