Adventures

LVACWS Portsmouth 2016 practice: home team advantage?

20160722_0383-EditI feel like I should buy a lottery ticket. No offence locals of England, but I believe we have had five sunny summer days in a row, which meant for a little sea breeze this afternoon, and four practice races ahead of official racing tomorrow and Sunday. Could this be the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event where we see a full program of racing? Here’s hoping!

Land Rover BAR were a dominant force today, but I took the opportunity after racing to catch up with a representative from each of the teams to chat about not only the practice racing today and what is ahead for this event, but also their development boats and what is ahead in, now less than a year’s time for the main event in Bermuda.

First up I chatted with Francesco Bruni on his first day steering an AC45 in a racing situation. “We had our moments, but unfortunately we couldn’t hold our position” he said on leading some of the races, but not capitalising on the scoreboard. “I learned so much today… The guys know the boat way better than me… with a little bit more breeze it would actually be easier”.

20160722_0177Dean Barker and I spoke a lot about the momentum of SoftBank Team Japan, who are one of the teams that seem to have been continually improving over the course of the past year. “We’ve been inconsistent in the earlier rounds, so that is something we have been working hard to do and we started to see that paying off in Chicago and hopefully that continues through the event here in Portsmouth”.  On the World Series events being sailed more often in light conditions he stated that “Bermuda can be just like this”. So this weekend should be great team building and practice for what is to come next year.

Paul Campbell-James was really happy with Land Rover BAR’s racing today, and who wouldn’t be. They won from in front, and from behind, and managed to show their home town advantage, both on and off the water, in regards to the spectators. “It’s wicked coming down that last reach, seeing all the crowds, and people sitting on the beach waving their Union Jacks… I am looking forward to tomorrow because there will probably be three times the people” said Campbell-James.

We spoke a bit about the jib and geneker cross over, Paul saying “it’s a big call at the bottom mark whether to use the geneker or not”. But I thought it was more their ability to pick the breeze to get them back in front, and keep them in front, “I think we were generally sailing fast… And I think the boys at the front and back, Ed and Ben were calling the shifts and the tactics really well”.

20160722_0125“It was fun” said Jimmy Spithill about today, with a lot of ups and downs to keep the sailors on their toes, “It’s a tough track… The crowds here are great both on and off the water so it would be great to show them the foils… the big thing now is to go back and study the footage as it could well be like this all weekend”.

“Time is the enemy for every team now” Jimmy said on the approach to Bermuda and the finale for the America’s Cup. We chatted quite a bit about the lead up, including the spying that was touched on yesterday, and how it is all business at this end of the series. The defenders are keen to “get out there and start swinging”.

“Very good, in the end… we struggled in there first few races, but we were always going to have a tough training day with a completely new team” said Ray Davies on Emirates Team New Zealand’s improvements over the day. “We have an exciting crew on the boat now that are all hungry to get some good results on the table” he said on the dynamic of the team even though they have the uphill battle of racing against “polished” teams with Burling and Tuke in Rio ahead of the Olympics 2016.

20160722_0036I tried to get some info on the NZ development boat, to no avail. Ray did drop in that they have also been keeping an eye on the boats in Bermuda, and both Ray and Paul Campbell-James of Land Rover BAR mentioned that they are able to employ a larger amount of crew and designers not relocating their staff to Bermuda.

Franck Cammas said it was difficult to recover in the racing today once you were behind. Basically that the racetrack is so small that you really can’t breathe once you are in the back two boats, a thought echoing Ray Davies’ comments on the first and second practice races on really pushing the starts. Regardless, Franck said that “tomorrow will be ‘up’ I hope” and he is looking ahead to build on their racing in Oman and New York earlier this year.

I will be live tweeting the racing tomorrow at www.twitter.com/sailorgirlhq and I will have interviews up as soon as possible after racing.

A big thanks to Alex Irwin / www.sportography.tv for working with me for this event and providing some amazing photos!

These are not official results, but here are the practice races as I recorded them today for your information. Race 4 will be used as the substitute race should the weather not play ball tomorrow!

Practice race results

R1 R2 R3 R4
Land Rover BAR 1 1 3 3
SoftBank Team Japan 3 4 1 2
Emirates Team NZ 6 6 2 1
Oracle Team USA 4 2 6 5
Groupama Team France 2 3 4 6
Artemis Racing 5 5 5 4

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