Land Rover BAR
Expectancy is overridden by meteorological prediction and the latter was not good two hours before the six foiling AC45s were due to start “Super Sunday’s” racing. The northwesterly zephyrs of the morning had been replaced by a similarly light northeasterly, but the promised forecast of 10 to 12 knots was nowhere near in evidence.
The six boats lay to moorings just off the shore, where the crowds gather to watch the racing. “Double points racing tends to concentrate the mind,” according to Jimmy Spithill. The Oracle Team USA skipper was aware that the light wind could be damaging. “We don’t want a lottery.
Ben Ainslie agreed with his rival. “It’s very tough in light airs,” he said, “it gets particularly tough when the Code Zero comes into play, both upwind and down – that’s definitely tricky and I rely on the calls that (tactician) Giles Scott is making.
When the crew lists appeared, just over an hour before the racing, there were no changes from the previous day in any of the teams. Most had opted for the lightest they could get, but not at the expense of losing strength or talent.
With a quarter of an hour to go to the first start, the promised breeze had, to some extent, materialized and all six crews were practicing with Code Zero sails, both downwind and also upwind. It looked set for a glorious afternoon of intense racing.
Because Sunday is a working day in Oman, the numbers out on the shoreline to watch the battle of the Titans was much reduced – note to possible future regatta organizers in Oman, hold races on Friday and Saturday.
The first race was a stunner and gave several indications, clear air and sailing the shortest distance were both important. Peter Burling, the skipper of ETNZ, said: “We started well and kept our nose clean.” It showed and the Kiwis were able to finish almost a minute ahead of Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR.
It was all Oracle Team USA in the second race. Spithill bolted out of the start, pursued by Adam Minoprio with Groupama. It was the group behind that provided the excitement. While ETNZ chased the French, behind them it was extremely close coming to the finish where Ben Ainslie snatched a couple of places on the finishing line to be fourth and keep the British team in contention.
Ainslie did everything he could to make up for an early start penalty and his team were with him all the way in the final race. “It was all about getting clear wind,” he said after finishing third to Groupama Team France and Oracle Team USA. It was the result the British skipper needed to win the regatta by two points from the Cup defender.
Overall Regatta Result: Land Rover BAR 76 points Oracle Team USA 74 Emirates Team New Zealand 70 Groupama Team France 68 Softbank Team Japan 61 Artemis Racing 56.