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Ainslie gets to grips with Great Sound

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Ben Ainslie foiling in the Great Sound yesterday(Photo supplied by Alex Palmer and Ben Ainslie Racing)

Ben Ainslie Racing, the British challenger for the 35th America’s Cup, have been making the most of their training camp in Bermuda this week.

During the past few days, team members have engaged in various drills, both on land and sea, which they hope will ultimately give them the edge over the competition.

One of the primary objectives of the camp, Sir Ben Ainslie, the team principal and skipper said, is to try and get an early handle on the variable conditions in the Great Sound, which will host the America’s Cup World Series in October, Challenger finals next year and the main event in 2017.

“We’ve had a couple of good days out on the Great Sound and it’s clear that it’s going to be a pretty tight racecourse,” Ainslie said. “It’s going to make it a real challenge for all the teams, but that’s a good thing.

“Some days will be good and some not so good. But even the days when there’s not much wind, there’s still really interesting racing because anyone who saw the last America’s Cup in the light wind races would see that the gains and losses are just absolutely huge.

“If you get in a bit of wind the other guys haven’t got, you can gain 500 metres in a couple of minutes and so the race is never really over.

“In some ways it’s almost just as interesting as when the boats are flying around at 40 miles an hour and doing their thing, so I think it would make for an interesting series.

“We know the conditions will be up and down a lot, which adds to the challenge for the sailors and designers as well, and that’s why we need to almost become locals as well in understanding conditions.”

Back on shore, team members have been put through their paces by former British marine Ben Williams.

“Ben is our fitness trainer who is a pretty tough nut,” Ainslie said. “He’s been pushing us hard, so there’s been some sort of blue steel stuff going on. We have done a lot of swimming and kayaking also, so we have really been making the most of the beautiful conditions here.”

Ainslie and his team-mates have been foiling around the Great Sound in the NACRA F20 catamaran, which have fascinated observers both on land and sea.

“It’s good to see all the locals showing a lot of interest in the boats,” Ainslie said. “They have been very friendly and supportive, which really bodes well for a good couple of years out here. The guys have really enjoyed being here in Bermuda.”

The team’s training catamarans are based at the Royal Naval Dockyard, which will be the venue for the America’s Cup Village and team bases. “This area is great, there’s so much potential,” Ainslie said. “It’s going to be a fantastic venue shoreside.”

Ben Ainslie Racing team members foiling in the Great Sound yesterday.(Photo supplied by Alex Palmer and Ben Ainslie Racing)
Ben Ainslie and team-mates pushing their NACRA F20 catamaran back to the boatyard at West End Yachts after another day of practice in the Great Sound(Photo supplied by Alex Palmer and Ben Ainslie Racing)