Ainslie set for Great Sound recon
Sir Ben Ainslie is not wasting any time reacquainting himself with Bermuda's conditions.
The skipper of Britain's America's Cup challenger, Ben Ainslie Racing, is scheduled to arrive on the Island next month with his team-mates to get a feel for the Great Sound, which has been designated as the racecourse for the America's Cup and preceding America's Cup World Series, during a ten-day training camp.
But they will not be foiling in the AC45 or AC62 just yet. Instead, Ainslie and his colleagues will foil around the Great Sound in smaller 20-foot training catamarans already en route to Bermuda.
“I know Bermuda well and have been fortunate to spend a bit of time there,” Ainslie said. “But the rest of the guys are not familiar with the venue and sailing conditions, so we can't hang around. We want to get out to see how it goes.
“We will be there in January training for about ten days in small 20-foot training boats, which I think is really important for the team. That's why we are coming as soon as possible.”
Any data the team record on local weather patterns will prove vital in the design of Ainslie's AC45 and AC62 that will be specifically rigged to suit Bermuda's conditions.
“It's really just about the design philosophy and the trick with Bermuda is the fact that the wind varies a lot,” Ainslie said. “When you go to somewhere like San Francisco, you know that pretty much every day it's going to blow about 20 knots of wind, and that's a lot easier from a design perspective.
“Bermuda will be tricky because one day you can have six knots of wind and then the next day it could be 20 knots of wind, so you have to be able to reconfigure your boat in a very short period of time — and that's going to be a big challenge for everybody.
“The light air conditions actually make it more interesting because if you have a specific set of conditions one team will mostly probably be dominant and it won't be so interesting.
“In Bermuda, a particular team might be more competitive one day and the next day a different team, so you are constantly going to be generating interest in what the results may be.”
In the lead up to the America's Cup World Series and main event, Ainslie plans to tap into his local resources to bolster his chances of returning the Auld Mug to British soil for the first time in more than a century.
“We've got some good friends out there obviously from past experiences,” said Ainslie, who formed part of Oracle Team USA's crew that successfully defended the Auld Mug last year.
As for Bermuda hosting the America's Cup, Ainslie said: “As a British team we have historic ties to Bermuda, so we're absolutely delighted that they are able to host the America's Cup and I want to congratulate all Bermudians. I know how much the America's Cup means to Bermuda and how much support there will be there on the ground.
“All of the events I have been to around the world, the most important thing is the local people who will make the event a success or not.
“You are going to have all the teams and the show and everything, but it's how much the local people get in and support it which will make it either a good event or a very special event.”
It is understood that Oracle Team USA are considering travelling to the Island early next year to train and study weather patterns.