America’s Cup: An Early Tease

Published on April 13th, 2017

With six weeks to go before the first race of the America’s Cup Challenger Qualifiers, the Great Sound of Bermuda is full of activity. Youth America’s Cup teams are training while the big boys are practice racing. Suddenly, this large ocean inlet isn’t very large.

If you’re into raw footage, videos have been getting posted at MyislandhomeBDA.

The big news this week was the arrival of the Kiwi team, courtesy of an Emirates SkyCargo 747 airplane. Their baggage included one ACC race boat, two wing sails, a chase boat, daggerboards, gym equipment, electrics, hydraulics and supplementary equipment…about 42 tons of stuff.

Other news included sailors getting tossed off the boats for Team France and Team USA.

As the Kiwis unpack their gear, an early tease of racing to come has been occurring with a schedule of practice races amongst the five other teams. The third session on April 10-12 on Bermuda’s Great Sound saw the Swedish team Artemis Racing dominating proceedings, winning all nine of the races they took part in.

2017-04-13_7-48-13Oracle Team USA finished second in the results table, winning five of their nine races, followed by SoftBank Team Japan who won two out of seven races they took part in, then Land Rover BAR who competed in five, winning one, and finally Groupama Team France who took part in four races without registering a victory.

Much like spring training for Major League Baseball, conclusions are hard as teams experiment amid competition. Even harder is to gather much from what is being said. Anybody who shows their cards is a fool. Here are what the players have said afterwards:

Nathan Outteridge, Skipper, Artemis Racing: “We’ve had a really good race period here in Bermuda, all five teams on the island have been racing hard. We’ve had some really close battles, really close starting. Tacking duels around the course forcing umpires to make decisions, it’s everything we expect it’s going to be come May and June. It’s going to be close and we’re just working on getting better and better each day.”

Iain Percy, Team Manager, Artemis Racing: “Six weeks to go now until the beginning of the competition, and we’re now at the business end of our campaign. These race weeks continue to prove very useful. We’ve come away again with lots of lessons, lots of things we need to improve.”

Nicholas Heintz, Grinder, Groupama Team France: “In terms of physical stress, a training day on the water is much more demanding as we do three races and a lot of runs, a rhythm that we won’t be doing during the cup. The learning curve is exponential for Groupama Team France and we are learning from every session on the water.”

Adam Minoprio, Wing Trimmer, Groupama Team France: “The boat is getting more and more stable and faster on the race course. We reach 40 knots downwind and we are happy with our new foils designs. We’re still in the process of optimization in terms of control systems. Competition is very sharp indeed.”

Jimmy Spithill, Skipper Oracle Team USA: “It was another great race period. You can definitely see that all of the teams have improved since the last one. I think Artemis Racing came out on top and they really just made fewer mistakes than other teams. People were definitely trying a few things out on the water in terms of technique and also their general setups but it was fantastic – we got more top-end conditions in this race period.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do still. Clearly Artemis Racing are looking very strong, SoftBank Team Japan too were going really well but we learned a heap out of this as I’m sure everyone did who was out there. The French were spending more hours out there and getting sharper as well with their AC boards but overall it was a great period and we’ve got to build on this. The clock is ticking so every day counts.

“The priorities now are making sure we do a good debrief from this period, making sure we take the time to study all the racing and what we’ve learnt from it, and then we need to implement some of the development options. We need to make sure we keep developing this boat, keep making it faster, and every other team will do the same.”

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, ETNZ, Scuttlebutt

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