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Spithill impressed with Artemis in practice

Stop and take the time to review the first of six pre-America's Cup training windows when competitors can match-up their AC class 50-foot catamarans against each other and test their theories against reality.

Teams raced their America's Cup Class boats for the first time from March 22 to 26 in Bermuda, with no racing on Thursday because of excess wind. Groupama Team France and SoftBank Team Japan did not sail all four race days. That is reflected in the results.

All of the practice races were informal and done without a race committee or umpires. The unofficial results may or may not reflect the lack of intensity at the starts and the fact that teams did not press their boats to the speed limits they will reach when the Qualifying Rounds start on May 26, just 58 days from today.

Some teams may be dragging an anchor to keep their real potential under wraps. They want to win in May and are just testing now.

Standing at the top of the heap after four race days with more races sailed and a 9-2 record, Jimmy Spithill, Oracle Team USA Skipper, commented about the practice session. “I think the racing this summer is going to be incredible,” he said on Sunday after a six-hour session in the Great Sound. “Over this session, we've seen every team win at least one race.”

“All the teams that are here have taken big steps since the last time we raced in the AC45 Turbo boats. This is the first time we've lined up in the new boats. The crew work we've seen has been pretty impressive across the board. The level keeps going up.”

“There are design differences and speed differences and it would be easy to read too much into what we've seen the last few days. The fact is, I think everyone only has one set of foils at this point [each team gets two sets of foils], so in lighter winds everyone was compromised somewhat. But that being said, I think each of the teams will tell you this was a great learning experience. We all took the opportunity to experiment.”

“We have a lot of work to do between now and the start of the regatta.” Spithill added. “Artemis Racing, in particular, looked impressive — we split our four races with them. So we definitely have to keep improving. The French who have had the least amount of time on the water also showed promise taking a win off the BAR team.”

Artemis Racing, standing second with a 7-3 record admitted, to a tough start last Friday losing their first two races in windy and wavy conditions. The team finished the day with a win against Oracle Team USA, Then went on a strong winning streak, grabbing every point available on Saturday and the first three races on Sunday.

”It got much lighter, and I was really pleased with the way we were able to step it up”, said Nathan Outteridge, Artemis Skipper and Helmsman. “It all came down to our final race with Oracle. We started strong, lead for the majority, but they got a shift on the last beat, and managed to get in just ahead of us.

“We've certainly learnt a lot, and now we have a bit of time to start working on improving the way we sail the boat, the way we race the boat, as well as installing a few upgrades.”

“It's been a really informative few of days, and it's exciting to have a number of race weeks ahead of us. Now we just have to keep moving things forward, improving our race boat to be even faster and more effective on the racecourse,” said Kalle Torlén, Trimmer and Grinder, after the last race.

Iain Percy, Team Manager and Tactician, said: ”We took a lot of lessons away from it, and I think the conclusion is we have a lot of work to do, but we're in the hunt. Our performance this weekend has certainly motivated us to step up our efforts.”

Ben Ainslie, Land Rover BAR Team Principal and Skipper, said. “It's been a really useful few days sailing against the other teams just ahead of our next design upgrade window.”

BAR stand fourth of five with a 2-8 record.

Photograph by Talbot Wilson Neck and neck: Oracle and Artemis enjoyed encouraging signs during the America's Cup first practice period in the Great Sound

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Published March 28, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated March 27, 2017 at 11:08 pm)

Spithill impressed with Artemis in practice

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