The «America»'s Cup of the new season raises new questions for us, and here are just a few of them.
- Will Dean Barker be able to bring up the Japanese team in such a way as to make the former Emirates Team New Zealand teammates?
- Will these races be as spectacular as the Extreme Sailing or will we have to settle for traditional Cup intrigue?
We are starting to follow the two-year pre-race series. Elena Otekina, who visited the site, tells us how the first stage took place.
On July 25th, all the brightest expectations were met and the weather in Portsmouth met the first race day of the two-year Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series qualifying races with bright sun, blue skies and 10-15 knots of wind. Finally, the organizers managed to hold two air shows and a major concert in the evening, which headliner was Wet Wet Wet. 64 thousand people witnessed the first race day, of which more than 15000, like me, watched the race from the water - 2200 different boats filled the Strait of Solent tightly surrounded the distance.
Oracle Team USA and SoftBank Team Japan took the start of the first race perfectly, then Emirates Team New Zealand took the lead, chased by the British Land Rover BAR led by Sir Ben Ainsley. However, a mistake on the rounding of the second top brand led New Zealanders only to the 3rd place. But to the delight of the crowd Ben Ainsley won the race by a fraction of a second, ahead of 30 knots speeded by Jimmy Spithill and Oracle Team USA.
Dean Barker and Japanese SoftBank were only able to finish fourth, ahead of Swedish Artemis and Team France. According to Frank Camma, in the first race they waited for stronger wind and therefore did not prepare a code of zeros, which today turned out to be very popular. As a result, the French were far behind their rivals on the full course. Also, according to Frank, because of the frequent change of wind and strong currents it was very difficult to guess with tactics.
The second race of the day was even more interesting than the first. Leading from the start, the British almost immediately lost to the New Zealanders and the French. But on the penultimate mark Ben Ainsley still won second place in the race, leaving Frank Camma in third.
By the admission of all participants, today was a very difficult day. The SoftBank team had a good start and led the first mark, but then lost the advantage by making mistakes. Having allowed one wrong maneuver, then it is very difficult to restore the previous pace, the AC45 is very difficult to manage and requires perfect crew performance.
According to Dean, we need to be realistic - he has a new team, first in this squad and, moreover, entered the game later than all, only in May this year. The crew is still dealing with the new yacht and its settings. Oracle and Artemis have made many mistakes.
The use of the zero- code on the AC45 requires full commitment from the crew, very good knowledge of the yacht and incredible physical effort, so all the athletes returned from the water literally barely alive.
The skipper of Oracle, Jimmy Spithill, said that they were going to work on the mistakes at the end of the day, but despite the difficulties the team enjoyed the racing.
New Zealand ETNZ helmsman Peter Birling was very pleased with his good performance among the best competitors in the world, but he realizes that there is still a lot of work ahead.
According to the happy Ben Ainslie, it was great for his team to feel the support of a huge crowd of fellow countrymen and reward them with a victory in the first race of the series, which cost the hardest work of the crew and excellent work of tactics.
As a result of the first day the British Land Rover BAR is leading (19 points), 1 point less than Emirates Team New Zealand (18), 16 points less than Oracle Team USA, 13 points less than SoftBank Team Japan and Groupama Team France, Artemis Racing 11.
Tomorrow is the final day of the first stage of the world series and again rain and more wind is expected. The points on the last race day will be doubled, so the stakes are very high, and with the level that the teams have demonstrated today, tomorrow we will have an interesting final day! The start of the first race at 13:30.
P.S. Just reported that due to the expected wind of more than 30 knots, the start on Sunday was postponed to 12:00 to be able to hold at least one race.
PP.SS. Everything, due to stormy weather with more than 30 knots of wind, today's last two races were finally cancelled, as well as the whole solemn program. The results are counted from yesterday's results and are not doubled. Sir Ben Ainsley, the Land Rover BAR Team and the whole of Britain can be absolutely happy.