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BAR back for testing on Great Sound

Land Rover BAR’s NACRA20s being unloaded last week at Spanish Point Boat Club

Bermuda’s warmer climate will be a far cry from the frigid conditions in the Solent this time of year for Land Rover BAR, who are scheduled to arrive on the Island this week for a training exercise.

A 40-foot container housing four of the British Challenger’s foiling NACRA 20 catamarans was delivered to the Spanish Point Boat Club last week.

Land Rover BAR’s shore team are expected to arrive on Thursday, with the sailors set to arrive the following day.

The team is led by Sir Ben Ainslie, a two-times King Edward VII Gold Cup winner and the most decorated Olympic sailor, who serves as team principal and skipper.

The team travelled to Bermuda four times last year; three times to train in the Great Sound and again in October for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series.

Competing in front of their own fans, Land Rover BAR won last August’s World Series opener in Portsmouth, which was shortened by a day because of strong gales. The team are third in the overall World Series standings.

Meanwhile, a familiar sight returned to the Great Sound last week as Oracle Team USA resumed training in their wing-sail foiling AC45S catamaran.

The defender of the America’s Cup took full advantage of the 15-16 knots on offer last Friday zipping around in the team’s second prototype boat, which arrived in Bermuda from New Zealand last August.

“We ran the boat through a lot of manoeuvres, a bit like a sea trial, as we’ve done some work to the boat over the break,” Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle skipper, said.

“Full credit to the shore crew and boatbuilders. No major problems and we had a great sail.”

The multihull racing yacht is a test platform and can be configured in various ways as the team tests design concepts for the new America’s Cup class boat it will build and use to defend its title in the Great Sound in 2017.

All systems on the new 50-foot foiling catamarans are manual as outside power is prohibited, which places a heavy burden on the grinders on board, who are tasked with providing sufficient energy to charge the hydraulic system through every manoeuvre around the racetrack.

To help the team’s sailors make this transition, some of the systems on Oracle’s second test boat are manual.

“The goal now is to work more on manual mode,” Spithill said. “We want to go more into manoeuvres and understand how to power these boats manually.

“Initially we were set up with a power pack for testing and we used that set-up to answer some technical questions.

“We’re going to have a bit of balance between power and manual and from what we saw the boat is incredibly physical. It’s going to be a real workout.”

Oracle were not the only cup team training in the Great Sound last Friday as SoftBank Team Japan also took advantage of the ideal conditions to launch their first AC45S, which they took delivery of from Oracle last month.