America's Cup World Series Oman: BAR sets the Bar

At the bottom end of the wind range, the Brits show the right form.

ACWS Oman

BAR on form in Oman

Putting it to crewwork and sharp eyes outside the boat, Ben Ainslie's Land Rover squad finishes the first day on top.ACEA/Ricardo Pinto

A move to change the Protocol to reduce the minimum wind limit of 6 knots was rejected by the competitors, but continues to raise the question of suitability of Muscat as a venue for the America’s Cup World Series racing. Local intelligence decrees that the maximum wind is at 1300 and in the morning when the Oman Youth Squad was racing Optimists the breeze was just in excess of the ACWS minimum limit. It was eight knots when the scheduled racing started.

It hardly put a smile of the face of the Emirates Team New Zealand supremo Grant Dalton. He was wincing slightly over the results of the previous day’s practice racing, when the team’s boat was last to finish in both races. “You can’t smile about that,” he said, adding, “Winning is what it’s all about.”

The Kiwis’ skipper, Glenn Ashby, had said, “For us, it is about minimizing the mistakes.” He was very much more concerned with making the team gel than in supposing that the recent continues success of helmsman Peter Burling and his crew Blair Tuke in winning the 49er World Championship would be important for the team. “It’s not important that they won that,” said Ashby, ‘they are in their infancy in AC terms.”

Iain Percy, the Artemis Racing skipper, rated the venue lightheartedly: “It’s one where a little luck will help!” Maybe his share of luck is due to run out after two race wins in the practice races. He did confirm that Nathan Outteridge, the helmsman, would be steering again – he had suffered an ankle injury when walking down the street – so it was not all good luck yesterday!

Adam Minoprio continues to stand in for Franck Cammas as helmsman of Groupama Team France, but nothing is permanent about this. Cammas, whose massive ankle injury is nearly fully healed, said: “I hope to start to sail next week.’

The last team to confirm its personnel was Land Rover BAR. It is believed that its practice race crew was one favored for strong breeze, but when the list appeared, just 30 minutes before the first scheduled start, “Freddie” Carr had given way to Andrew McLean. But it didn’t appear to help. The British boat was over early and trailed the fleet on the first downwind leg, but began to gain as others took penalties for a variety of reasons.

Ainslie has always been a proponent of teamwork and that became increasingly evident as the day progressed. It wasn’t so good for Jimmy Spithill. The Cup defender had a nightmare second race, finishing where no one wants to finish, and, after leading the final race,, was passed at the windward mark by the Brits, who enjoyed top placing after three races.

Ben Ainslie put the team’s success down to crew coordination. “There was immense rapport between us all, particularly with the information I was receiving from Giles (Scott). He kept us going at the right angles (to the wind), and it was very shifty out there, but subtle trim works, particularly when we have the Code Zero hoisted.” And there was considerable use for these specialist sails, even upwind in the final race.

Points after three races:

Land Rover BAR 28 Oracle Team USA 24 Emirates Team New Zealand 22 Softbank Team Japan 21 Artemis Racing 20 Groupama Team France 20

ACWS Oman

Oracle Team USA

Oracle Racing Team USA Jimmy Spithill sheds Dean Barker and Softbank Team Japan.ACEA/Ricardo Pinto