Foiling Bay ©Tiger Productions
King of The Bay
The god of wind was in a tricky mood for last day of racing but International Moth sailor Julien Villon did not get held up and went on to be crowned as the first King of The Bay 2017. The idea behind this event, is to gather all types of foiling boats and get them racing on the same race course.
In order to qualify, Kitesurf, windsurf, Flying Phantom and Moth classes each lined up on the starting line one by one to complete the course. Then, each winner competed together in the big final.
In quite a light breeze it was the Moth that took the lead. This type of boat is fully carbon built and only 30 kilos and so logically it was Julien Villon who went on to take a comfortable win.
Class leaders remained in top spot
After formal validation, Kieran Leborgne (Kitesurf), Julien Villon (International Moth), Julien Bontemps (Windsurf), Tim Mourniac and Pierre-Yves Durand on Cup Legend (Flying Phantom) took the top spots.
A new state of mind
The first edition of the Foiling Bay has been a great success both in terms of the event itself and the ideal conditions, allowing 45 races to be held across all the disciplines. It was the perfect opportunity for the competitors to share and show their expertise, passion and to showcase the amazing foiling and flying boards and boats to the public. Foiling is exciting and there will be lots more fun and surprises to come in the future of the sport!
Reigning KiteFoil GoldCup champion Maxime Nocher sealed victory in the year’s first event with a perfect final day, racking up four bullets from four races in light breezes that threatened to die at any moment.
But even the fickle airs that shifted and barely topped 8kts were a welcome relief after three windless days that made for a stop-start competition, the first international kite competition in Korea, staged off Boryeong’s stunning Daecheon Beach.
While the breezes toyed with riders and race officials alike, Nocher (MON) was flawless on the final fifth day on the Yellow Sea’s flat waters, controlling each of the races even as Italian Riccardo Leccese snapped at his heels hoping for an error or mishap that never came.
Nocher, on his unmarked 19m Enata foil kite and Enata hydrofoil, proved unbeatable in the whole regatta marked by a lack of wind, adding the closing day’s four bullets to two he secured on the competition’s opening exchanges.
Riding a Mike’s Lab foil and Ozone R1 prototype kite, Leccese managed a good run of second spots that earned him the podium runners-up slot. Yet in the penultimate race he came momentarily unstuck when he struggled to leave the beach in the failing breeze close to shore and failed to make the start, a result he was fortunately able to discard.
Poland’s Maks Zakowski took the chance to grab a second spot in that race to the peerless Nocher, an opportunism that built on consistent placings throughout the event and won him the third podium spot, his best placing in an International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup.
The IKA KiteFoil GoldCup, hosted and sponsored by the Korea Windsurfing Kitesurfing Federation, is the first of four slated globe-trotting stops for 2017, with back-to-back events in China in mid-September next on the cards.
But the wind that refused to play ball during the Korean event played havoc with the Kiteboard Tour Asia Twin-Tip slalom race open due to be staged simultaneously. It proved impossible to get away any races despite interest provoked by the format to be used in next year’s Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.
And while the final day proved tricky at times even for the foilers, they were still able to display scintillatingly-quick pace with their largest 18m and 19m kites in patchy breezes that occasionally dipped below 4kts.
In those zephyrs there is little margin for rider error with every tack and gybe requiring balletic precision. Yet the foilers still clocked almost more than 20kts on the two-lap windward-leeward track off Daecheon Beach.
None did it better than Nocher. But even he—like every other rider—caught debris and seaweed on his foil that threatened to derail his bid.
“In the day’s second race I was leading by far, but I caught a plastic bag and just couldn’t remove it and keep moving,” he said. “Leccese passed me and I still had the bag on my fin. I did that whole leg with the plastic bag, but past the gate it came off. Then I got the lead again.
“So, overall I’m very happy to have won this event. It’s been hard to deal with these conditions, but I’m near perfect in these light winds and Leccese could do nothing.”
Leccese remained happy with his second podium spot, nonetheless, sure it showed he still had pace even in the lighter breezes that favoured neither his physique nor his equipment.
“Overall I’m pleased with second spot,” he said. “It’s solid. I’m attacking the front of the field again. That puts me in a good frame of mind. I felt I was controlling the races at or near the front. Most of the others were on 19m kites, except for me on an 18m, yet I was still competitive.”
For Zakowski, on a Moses Comet foil and Ozone R1V2 kite, the decision to swim and body-drag off the beach just as Leccese came unstuck in the penultimate race’s dropping breeze proved fortuitous.
“I swam 200m to catch the wind to get out and it allowed me to finish that race second,” he said. “But my results have been very consistent, so I’m glad about that. Not up and down. This has been my best result, so I’m pretty happy.”
In the women’s group racing among the men, the novice 16-year-old Anais Mai Desjardins (FRA) caused an upset when she overhauled Alexia Fancelli (FRA) with a good run of results on the final day, with Korea’s Bitna Kim taking the third podium spot.
The next stop of the 2017 KiteFoil GoldCup will be in China with two events back to back between 8 and 23 of September, for a total prize purse of more than 100.000 USD
Overall standings after six races (1 discard):
1 Maxime Nocher (MON, Enata/Enata) 5 pts
2 Riccardo Leccese (ITA, Ozone/Mike’s Lab) 13 pts
3 Maks Zakowski (POL, Ozone/Moses) 20 pts
4 Florian Gruber (GER, Flysurfer/Levitaz) 20 pts
5 Theo Lhostis (FRA, Enata/Enata) 22 pts
1 Anais Desjardins (FRA, Flysurfer/Spotz) 53 pts
2 Alexia Fancelli (FRA, Ozone/Taaroa) 62 pts
3 Bitna Kim (KOR, Ozone/Levitaz) 76 pts
Flat water, sun, wind and 18 more races completed on day 3 of the Foiling Bay competition. Julien Bontemps (Windsurf), Kieran Leborgne (Kitesurf), Julien Villon (International Moth) and Cup Legend Crew (Flying Phantom) stay in the lead!
All races were tighter than the day before between Cup Legend and Redbull. Tactics were key today and one wrong manoeuvre could be the difference between winning and losing. Even though the wind was blowing all day long, it was constantly varying in intensity. Sometimes, it was stronger at the top of the race zone, and sometimes further down the zone, so the teams had to take the best option as soon as they passed the first mark. Since all crews were on equal footing with their manoeuvres, Redbull took the lead thanks to their speed and strategic choices. Oman Sail finished in third place which they just missed out on yesterday. Kook, the boat skippered by local sailor, Sébastien Rogues, remained in sixth position and crossed the finish line in first position in the second race.
The Moths flew over the racing zone at higher speed thanks to a strong wind and flatter water that helped riders to balance their boat easily so they could focus more on speed. Julien Villon gave no hope to the rest of the fleet to finish on top of the podium. Eric Rotteleur was less regular than yesterday, and remains in second. Lauri Lehtinin is the only one who could maintain the pace and won the second race. Even though the Finnish sailor didn’t race yesterday, he still has every chance to finish on the podium tomorrow.
Windsurf Foil (RS:X)
During the first part of the day, windsurfers competed in some very technical racing and for the last three rounds, the Race Director set up a Super 8. It’s a simple race course between two buoys at a right angle to the wind, and was a chance for the windsurfers to show the best of their gliding skills. Olympic Silver Medallist Julien Bontemps repeated the scenario from yesterday and finished six races in first place with a big lead. Benjamin Longy and William Godon, finishing respectively in second and third, also repeated yesterday’s performance.
Kitesurf Foil (CR:X)
Kieran Le Borgne perfectly combined his technical ability with his understanding of the waters at La Baule. Sébastien Cou tried everything to sneak ahead but there was no way to take over the winner from Brittany. Mathieu Simonnet, like the day before, finished third in all the races and so completed the podium.
King of The Bay
This race has all flying sailing craft on the same course, which will conclude the very successful first edition of the Foiling Bay. Each Race Director will run qualification rounds and the two best riders will advance to the final and ride for the title of ‘King of The Bay’.
Programme, Sunday 21st May 2017
– Skipper meeting 10 am
– First races start at 11 am
– King of The Bay starts from 2 pm
– South west wind, 10 to 13 knots (3 Beaufort)
Photo c Emeline Roussel
Conditions were perfect on the first official day of racing with 15 races for all entries. With 14 boats having entered, the Flying Phantom races have been really intensive right up until the last leg. The Race Directors of each class have made the most of the sailing area by setting up short and technical races suitable for each craft, offering an outstanding show.
“This day couldn’t be better! It was really close between Redbull and Cup Legend. The fleet was spread out but everyone had someone else to compete with.” declared Anne Malledant, Flying Phantom Race Director, just after the racing. Thomas Zajac and Jason Saunders from Redbull were on fire all day long and still had hope to grab the top spot until they capsized in the 5th race. Despite this little stunt, the crew still finished second. Cup Legend, skippered by Tim Mourniac and Pierre-Yves Durand finished first almost three times in a row. At the end of the day the scores are so tight that we can expect two days of highly contested racing.
There were only six entries on the start line but what a race! Julien Villon, winner of the three races, didn’t give the others a chance. He handled his boat extremely well and almost overlapped the last boat twice. The starts were impressive with the fleet speeding like bullets at 15 knots going upwind while remaining really close to each other. It took only three minutes for the winner to reach the first buoy around one kilometre upwind. Downwind, they had to jibe at 20 knots, some managed to without even touching the water.
Windsurf Foil (RS:X)
The RS:X Convertible is a new class that we we may see on stage at the next Olympic Games. The goal is to modernise the actual RS:X by adapting it to have an attached foil, with an option to ride with a normal fin.
The choice will depend on the weather conditions. Julien Bontemps, from La Baule, who won an Olympic silver medal in London lead the fleet from the start to the finish of the race. The performance of the two girls in the race was admirable and resulted in Lucie Hervoche winning her first national windsurf championship.
Kitesurf Foil (CR:X)
CR:X Kite Surfing is the same idea as windsurfing, with the aim to be in the Olympics. As in windsurfing, everyone has exactly the same kit so that they are racing on equal terms.
In this way, it comes down to the sailors pure performance, tactics and strategy skills. Over the five races that were held, Kierian Le Borgne dominated leaving his rivals behind. In second place was Sébastien Cou, who despite being an excellent competitor had to content with watching his rival steam ahead.
Programme, Saturday 20th May 2017
– Skipper meeting 10 am
– Racing starts 11 am
– West to north-westerly wind, 12 to 17 knots (3 to 5 Beaufort)
For results and the latest information, check out the Foiling Bay Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/foilingbay/
Day three of the final round of practice racing before the 35th America’s Cup saw five of the six America’s Cup teams out on the Great Sound ready to race, but only one race took place as light winds hampered the afternoon’s action.
Oracle Team USA, SoftBank Team Japan, Artemis Racing, Land Rover BAR and Groupama Team France were all set to feature in the afternoon’s planned races, but only one race was possible, between SoftBank Team Japan and Groupama Team France, due to light wind conditions.
Following a collision between Land Rover BAR and Emirates Team New Zealand in the final practice race of the day two action (Tuesday 16th May), the Kiwi team were not out on the water on day three as they continue repairs to their yacht.
In contrast to the first two days of the final round of practice racing, which enjoyed near perfect race conditions on the Great Sound, the conditions on day three did not reach the required 6-24 knots of windspeed (measured between eight and three minutes before the race start time), resulting in a curtailed race program.
Despite the lack of ideal conditions on the water, one race was completed with SoftBank Team Japan continuing their strong week of practice racing with another victory, this time overcoming Groupama Team France.
“Challenging conditions on the Great Sound did not meet the requirements to race,” said America’s Cup Race Management Race Director Iain Murray, “However, the teams made the most of the opportunity to practice pre-starts and light air tuning.”
Reflecting on his team’s outing Groupama Team France wing trimmer Thierry Fouchier conceded it was difficult sailing in low wind but believes the experience could prove invaluable come proper racing.
“We started the race with below the wind limit but it was good to try anyway,” he said. “It was tough because if you can get up on the foils then you can put alot of distance between you and your competitor, but without that it is difficult. During the race the wind dropped below 5 knots and so there was no flying. In those conditions it is just not possible.”
“We learn things every day, we always learn in all conditions, even when it is tough like that. Next time we get the same we will better for sure. If it is breezy historically we are below the others but I guess when it is light the race is more open and gives us more of a chance of winning.”
With very light winds forecast again, America’s Cup Race Managment (ACRM) and the teams have made the decision not to race. Practice racing will resume on Friday, conditions permitting.
The Volvo Ocean Race has unveiled a series of radical initiatives that aims to create the toughest all-round test in professional sailing and strengthen the appeal of the 44-year-old round-the-world race to pro sailors, team owners and their sponsors, race partners, host cities and fans.
While the final preparations are being made for the 2017-18 edition, starting 22 October, race organisers used a live event at the Volvo Museum in Gothenburg, the home of the race’s owners and title sponsors, to present a bold vision for the next decade and beyond.
Highlights include the choice of a new 60-foot (18.29 metre) foil-assisted One Design ocean racing monohull, designed by France’s Guillaume Verdier, plus the introduction of a challenging 32-50 foot (10-15m) One Design ‘flying’ catamaran for In-Port Races, for which a new design and build tender process was launched today.
The offshore legs will remain the key to winning the Volvo Ocean Race, but the inshore racing will count more than the current situation, where it acts only as a tiebreaker. That means winning the race in future will demand expertise in both monohull racing offshore and multihull racing in the In-Port Series, as both platforms will be raced by essentially the same crew.
Key announcements from the Gothenburg event:
Sailing’s ultimate test: From the edition after 2017-18, the Volvo Ocean Race will be contested in a combination of a 60-foot foil-assisted monohull for the ocean legs and a 32-50 foot ‘flying’ catamaran for use in the In-Port Race Series. Together, they will establish the Volvo Ocean Race as sailing’s ultimate all-round test and strengthen its reputation as the ultimate test of a team in professional sport.
Foil-assisted monohull: The One Design monohull from the in-demand French naval architect Guillaume Verdier will use the latest generation foiling technology to make it incredibly fast to sail and spectacular to watch. Crew numbers are likely to be between 5 and 7, with incentives continuing for mixed male-female crews and youth sailors. The race will build eight of the new monohulls and deliver them from January 2019 onwards. They will be available to lease by teams to reduce campaign start-up costs, with sponsors involved in the current 2017-18 race to be given first option when Notice of Race and Commercial Participation Agreements are published this October.
IMOCA compatibility: Uniquely, the design brief retains an option to allow the boat platform to be converted, inexpensively and quickly, to a fully rules-compliant short-handed IMOCA boat. The 60-foot IMOCA class boats, used in iconic races such as the solo Vendée Globe, have been the drivers of some incredible technical innovation over the past few decades.
‘Flying’ in-shore catamaran: Additionally, the race is launching a tender process for a new One Design 32-50 foot ‘flying’ catamaran for use inshore – a boat that will use some of the technology familiar from the America’s Cup and other new multihulls, albeit in a non-development One Design mode.
A sustainable future: The race has three pillars of action on sustainability – reduce its own footprint, maximise its impact using its global communications platform, and leave a positive legacy wherever it goes. Centred on a partnership with the United Nations Environment Clean Seas campaign, the focus will be on the call to action ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’. A founding partnership with 11th Hour Racing is providing the resource to permit significant amplification across all Science, Education and Ocean Summit programmes. AkzoNobel will further boost the education and awareness programme. The Volvo Ocean Race’s long term ambition is to reduce and then eliminate the use of fossil fuels on future boats, while maintaining safety and communication performance, as well as developing new construction methods and operational strategies for the race overall.
New racecourse and stopover formats: The race is planning big changes to the racecourse and stopover formats over the next decade – moves that will strengthen commercial appeal while preserving its sporting integrity.
While the race is committed to two more starts from its home, and important partner, in Alicante, some future races could start and finish outside Europe, and potentially feature a non-stop leg around Antarctica or even a non-stop lap of the planet. But while routes may vary, the race will commit to visiting North America, South America, Australasia, Greater China, and at least 5 major European markets at least once every two editions, providing commercial clarity for any two-cycle plans even without the precise route being known. In addition, Host Cities will be able to choose from a range of flexible stopover formats – from the 24-48 hour pit-stop, to shorter form stopovers of five days, through to traditional ‘two weekend’ stopovers with full activation. The bidding process for the next three editions is launched today.
Race activity every year/Potential shift to two-year cycle: The Volvo Ocean Race Board has asked race management to look into the feasibility of shifting the race to a two-year cycle. That process is still ongoing but what is already certain is that in future there will be race activity of some kind in every calendar year – a clear evolution from the current situation, with a gap of over two years between editions.
A pathway to the Volvo Ocean Race: The race and its co-owners Volvo Car Group and Volvo Group will become official partners of World Sailing, as part of a long term strategic plan to develop the next generation of offshore sailors and their sponsors by providing a clear developmental pathway. The race will establish Volvo Ocean Race Academies as part of future Host Venue partnerships and will also provide a stepping stone for future offshore sailors into the Olympics, if and when offshore sailing is included, which could be a showcase event as early at Tokyo 2020.
Leadership Development and Team Performance Programme / Global Team Challenge: Organisers will introduce a new Leadership Development and Team Performance Programme for businesses, focusing on learnings from the race in areas such as leadership and teamwork. The programme will feature a ‘shadow’ ocean race called the Global Team Challenge, designed for sponsors to give their employees a unique experience of the sport under near identical conditions to those faced by the professionals. The Global Team Challenge will be safety focused, raced along part of the Volvo Ocean Race route, in detuned versions of the current generation Volvo Ocean 65s and with a ratio of 3 professional sailors to 8 amateurs. The basic package will be included in the commercial offering for team sponsors, with activation opportunities to support employee development HR programmes, Employer Branding (recruitment and talent acquisition) as well as additional opportunities for B2B and media activation. This programme will also act as a new entry point for future sponsors of teams in the race.
50th anniversary celebration: The Volvo Ocean Race began life in 1973 as the Whitbread Round the World Race and 2023 marks its half-century. The race is considering plans for a special 50th anniversary race that will honour the sailing legends who have taken part.
The next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race starts from Alicante on 22 October 2017 and will visit a total of 12 Host Cities on six continents. The teams will compete over 46,000 nautical miles (83,000 kms) to the finish line in The Hague at the end of June 2018.
photo © Benoit Roux
4 days of unique regattas dedicated to foiling from May 18th – 21st.
5 disciplines on the same body of water.
More than 100 competitors of 9 different nationalities.
1st World Foiling Stand Up Paddle Event.
Various onshore activities and entertainment.
From Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st May, Pouliguen Bay – La Baule – Pornichet will host the second edition of the Foiling Bay, a spectacular event that celebrates the foiling phenomenon. This year the Foiling Bay, La Baule’s newest Derby, will host not one but five foiling disciplines in its nautical arena, which is ideal for sailing foiling boats and boards: Flying Phantom, Foiling Moth, Kitefoil, Foiling Windsurf and Foiling Stand Up Paddle, all new boats and boards that represent the future of water sports.
There is no need to be a specialist to enjoy this highly aesthetic and sensational show. This year the event is merging with the legendary Derby Kite and Paddle, a staple of the Stand Up Paddle circuit since the advent of this sport in which the best kite-surfers usually compete.
High flying competitions
Thanks to the appearance of foils (large fins which, similar to that of an aircraft wing, with added speed allows the support on which they are fixed to be lifted off the water), the new generation of boats no longer float but fly and reach impressive speeds.
Organised by three of the main clubs in the bay, the Cercle Nautique de La Baule le Pouliguen Pornichet (CNBPP), the Yacht Club de la Baule (YCLB) and the APCC, the Foiling Bay will gather more than one hundred competitors of 9 different nationalities for four days.
The event proposes an ambitious programme, and the level promises to be first class with four stages of the national and international professional circuits: the Warm Up of the European circuit of the Flying Phantom Series, the final regatta of the Brittany Moths Series, the Neilpryde Series – CRX Kite and the Neilpryde Series – RSX convertible to board.
The first three days will be dedicated to technical regattas and the Bay Derby (inshore raid linking the 3 clubs), while Sunday will be dedicated to a knockout speed event, the spectacular “King of the Bay” trophy. Who will sail the highest off the water?
“The Foiling Bay will be the first official event of the convertible RSX monotype concept. We wish to promote this new futuristic windsurfing board in order for it to reach the Olympic Games of 2024. I am very happy that this event is taking place in my homeland in La Baule Bay, there is no doubt it is going to be a wonderful event!” Julien Bontemps, Olympic windsurfing vice champion.
“I am very pleased that the Foiling Bay is being held in the bay of La Baule. This is the first time in the world that we will see so many foiling boats on the same start line. The level of performance is going to be exceptional and the waters of the bay are very suitable for foiling boats. I am looking forward to the first start with my co-pilot JB Gellét!” Sébastien Rogues, ENGIE Sailing Team skipper.
The first global Foiling Stand Up Paddle event
This new edition of the Foiling Bay is all the more important, as it will host the world’s first Foiling Stand Up Paddle event. The newest addition to the board-sports family, this discipline attracts all the thrill-seekers. This board is equipped with a foil, that allows the competitors to propel themselves over the water with the aid of a paddle. Whether in the waves or in the offshore swell, the Foiling Stand Up Paddle can reach thirty kilometres per hour and is definitely a new popular discipline.
Spectator zones on the water for increased safety
The new ultra fast foiling boats also require greater vigilance. Therefore, for the safety of all, the maritime prefecture has decreed an exclusion zone. This area will be marked and there will be numerous organisers’ boats on the water to help prevent sailing in the area. Spectator zones will be arranged so that the greatest number possible can come to admire the regattas safely on the water.
With an entertainment village open to the public, the Foiling Bay promises to offer a great show both on the water and ashore. Located on the beach, in front of the Yacht Club de La Baule, the village is the hub of participants and spectators and is the perfect place for sharing and making new friends.. The regattas will be broadcast live and have live commentary in the midst of many activities accessible to all, enabling children and adults to learn about this latest generation flying machines.
America’s Cup – Day 2 of Practice Session 5 in Bermuda
Day 2 of the final week of practice racing before the 35th America’s Cup starts in Bermuda on 26th May saw all six teams enter the fray of competitive races, in what proved an afternoon of highs and lows for Emirates Team New Zealand.
Having sat out of competitive racing on Day 1 of the latest round of practice racing (Monday), when they smashed a rudder before the start, the Kiwi team enjoyed a promising afternoon, winning races nine and ten, overcoming Land Rover BAR and Groupama Team France respectively.
However, it was the scheduled 12th race, a rematch of their duel with Land Rover BAR, that proved the day’s real talking point after the race was abandoned following a collision between the two boats in the pre-start, which resulted in both teams sustaining damage.
Meanwhile, Kiwi helmsman Peter Burling shed some more light on the incident.
“It was a bit of a shame in the last pre-start. We had the leeward end of the line pretty locked down, Ben was quite late and just ran straight into the back of us,” said Burling. “Just unnecessary a week out from the America’s Cup. We are all here to learn and it’s a shame we have a pretty big dent now in the back of our nice boat.
“It went straight in with his windward bow and right down the inside of our leeward hull, so there is a pretty good dent there. You can definitely see it has punctured right into the cockpit right around where my steering wheel is.”
Meanwhile, Land Rover BAR, who suffered a defeat to SoftBank Team Japan in race five before recovering to overcome Groupama Team France in race six, confirmed via their Twitter page that the incident had caused damage to their bow and repairs had already started to take place with the aim of getting back out on the water for practice racing for day three (Wednesday).
Artemis Racing also returned to race action having sat out day one and enjoyed a positive day on the water as they managed to beat Groupama Team France in the fourth race of the day.
Having enjoyed a perfect run of back-to-back wins on day one, Oracle Team USA endured mixed fortunes on day two, beating SoftBank Team Japan in race 7, before the Japanese team gained revenge in a re-run in race 11 with Oracle Team USA retiring after the first mark.
However, despite the mixed race results, Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill looked at the positives of more valuable hours of practice on the Great Sound.
‘I think we’ve put in more hours than anyone over the last couple of days and we’ve had some really good racing,” he said.
‘It’s taken a huge effort from the shore guys to be able to do that, so our hats off to them.
‘We’re learning a lot about different race situations now. All the teams are racing hard and we’re trying to learn as much as we can from that. So the past two days have been very valuable, even with limited racing.
‘We tried to lock a few design things down for the past couple of days, but we’re still heavily into the development curve. There’s a lot of stuff we want to do and need to do still. But on the other side, I think as a sailing team we still have a heap to do to sharpen up, so getting these hours in has been very valuable.’
Regardless of their results, all teams seem to be in agreement that the practice racing is an invaluable opportunity to gain knowledge of the racecourse and their opponents. SoftBank Team Japan skipper Dean Barker commented:
‘We’ve gotten a good feel for the opposition, everyone has their final parts installed and are learning how to use them. They’re all in that final fine-tuning process ahead of starting racing next Friday and everyone is making gains around the course. You’re starting to see that final pecking order though there’s still a lot that can change before next week.
‘Two surprises over the past two days? One has been how aggressive the practice racing has seemed to become evidenced by a pretty decent collision between two of the boats. Two, I think the way the level has continued to rise. You expected a plateau but the game is on to one up each other right now.”
Race 5 GBR v JPN win to JPN
Race 6 FRA v GBR win to GBR
Race 7 JPN v USA win to USA
Race 8 SWE v FRA win to SWE
Race 9 GBR v NZL win to NZL
Race 10 NZL v FRA win to NZL
Race 11 USA v JPN win to JPN (USA retired after mark 1)
Race 12 NZL v GBR (both retired)
Four of the six America’s Cup teams were back in practice race action on 15th May on the first day of the final week of practice racing before the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda starts on 26th May, and the results proved interesting.
In near perfect conditions on Bermuda’s Great Sound, Jimmy Spithill and Oracle Team USA showed their intentions early on with a dominant performance against Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR in race one.
Despite the British boat making a better start, Oracle Team USA quickly found their rhythm and were clearly ahead by the second windward mark, before widening their advantage to cross the finish line over a minute ahead of the British team.
Tom Slingsby, Oracle Team USA tactician and sailing team manager, commented after an 8 hour day on the water:
“It was a long day out there for us, but we wanted to make the most of it.
“We did a couple of races, got a couple of wins and then we did some tuning and tried some different tests. We got a lot of answers we needed.
“We know how much we’ve stepped up our game from the last race period and we see that everyone else has made a similar step. The rate of improvement is skyrocketing in this last month. Everyone is putting on all their race kit, the manoeuvers are getting better and so the differences between the teams are getting smaller.”
Land Rover BAR returned to the water immediately for race two but their fortunes did not improve and they suffered a second successive defeat, this time at the hands of SoftBank Team Japan.
Again, the British boat made a strong start but their lack of straight-line speed proved their downfall as Softbank Team Japan, skippered by Dean Barker, gained a clear lead that they did not relinquish, finishing with a convincing victory.
The two victors of races one and two then faced off in race three in what would prove to be the closest contest of the afternoon.
Oracle Team USA and SoftBank Team Japan made even starts before the American sailed clear ahead after the windward mark.
It was a lead they did not give up, pressing home their advantage in the closing stages to finish clear of their Japanese rivals and remaining unbeaten for the day with back-to-back victories.
However, fresh from that defeat, SoftBank Team Japan returned to the race course to seal a somewhat routine second victory against a struggling Groupama Team France, who had been out for the entire afternoon but joined the racing action late on in the day.
SoftBank Team Japan Tactician and Sailing Team Director, Chris Draper:
“Everything’s going really well. Like Iain Percy from Artemis Racing said the other day, I don’t think the race scoring to date has flattered our performances, counting races we’ve missed, etc.
“We’re really pleased with how it went today. We’ve not had a huge amount of days in the past 7-8 days and there’s been some massive modifications to the boat. Big credit to our shore team that we went as well on the water as we did today. We only had 20 minutes of warm-up before the first race and it went well.”
However, it proved a difficult run for the French team, skippered by Franck Cammas.
Having got out of the starting box behind SoftBank Team Japan, Groupama Team Frances’s chances of winning were dealt a major blow as they suffered a big nose-dive in the run up to the first mark.
They did, however, manage to restart in their pursuit of SoftBank Team Japan, but the damage to their chances of victory had already been done with the incident all but ending any chance of a competitive contest between the two teams.
As the French team continued to struggle, SoftBank Team Japan eased over the finish line to take a second win from three races.
Meanwhile, Emirates Team New Zealand’s preparations got off to the worst possible start as they suffered a broken rudder before racing began.
The team confirmed, via their Twitter page, that they successfully replaced the broken rudder an they made it back out onto the Great Sound to continue their own practice program late on in the afternoon.
Artemis Racing did not participate in the practice races whilst a number of upgrades are completed, but were out on the water on board Magic Blue, meaning all six teams were sailing, if not competing, on day one of the final week of practice racing.
Results from practice day 1
Race 1 GBR USA USA win
Race 2 JPN GBR JPN win
Race 3 USA JPN USA win
Race 4 JPN FRA JPN win
Photos © Ricardo Pinto
Bora Gulari and George Peet provide their own form guide leading up to the AC Challengers round. Fuelling the curiosity on who will win the America’s Cup has been a steady stream of videos posted to MyislandhomeBDA. Jason Smith has been following the teams as they practice on the Great Sound, providing nearly daily updates as the teams train and participate in practice races.
Bora Gulari and George Peet, two sailing professionals and longtime Moth racers, are among the experts making notes as the teams learn to sail the new 15-meter America’s Cup Class boat.
“Big thanks to Jason and his commitment to getting the videos up,” said Gulari. “They have been part of my daily morning routine now for quite some time, but I believe that George Peet is the expert in couch coaching.”
Scuttlebutt reached out to Gulari and Peet for their assessment last week…. here it is:
Defender: Oracle Team USA (USA)
George Peet: You mean Oracle Team AUS?
Bora Gulari: Damn dyslexia.
GP: Overall look good but I think they are lucky they don’t have to sail the challenger series because they would be fighting for third with SoftBank Team Japan. I’m sure they are fast but they look like they struggle with their manoeuvres. Gybes are okay but tacks are average at best. Some grumblings of a lack of hydro power at critical moments – purely from video comments and chat room talk. Perhaps the twist grips on the wheel allow for the helmsman to be a bit “trigger happy”?
BG: There is something eating up some hydro power at a rate higher than other teams, in the last capsize I’m not sure if the wing ever popped.
GP: I have also noticed that in the two capsize vids it seems the helmsman when finishing the manoeuvre is turning the wrong way, and in the last video this is easily verified in the manoeuvre.
GP: They also look like they are the most raked. Most boats look 10’ behind vertical or so and they look more like 15′. They sail with their jib sheet in the highest and second highest hole in the clew board while others are closer to the bottom.
BG: I agree about the rake but you got too much time on your hands if you are comparing jib clew board positions. If they were raked more than the other boats, assuming the foils are in the same relative spots, their habit of more bow down trim would help balance out the boat to be in line with the others.
GP: Verified now they are trying a cycle set-up for tactician Tom Slingsby that is aft of the helmsman. I like this idea and I think if executed properly could be a better set up than NZL with reasons being better comms with helmsman, better race course vision, easier for tactician to get to into steering position for manoeuvres, better power output, and another big one is that the dedication of grinders to winches and hydro isn’t as absolute.
Challenger: Artemis Racing (SWE)
GP: Videos show them flying high and very stable, rolling the sh#t out of Oracle as well as crushing manoeuvres. The foils look to be the most outboard of any team; can’t tell about the horizontal lifting surface. Top of daggerboard cases seem the biggest – not sure what’s in there but seems to be working.
BG: For sure something is going on underneath that bonnet. I have to believe everyone would be at max beam/righting moment for their foils.
GP: They are 90% on foiling tack and 99% on foiling gybes. Rudders may be max length/depth. They certainly fly high all the time with control. They will be fighting it out with NZL for the challenger spot.
BG: Flying high no doubt. They don’t seem to be as bow down most of the time as Oracle. We have both commented on that they seem to have less spray drag than the other boats, I have not taken any screen shots but I have the perception that their main foil vert seems to have less forward rake when going at pace downwind. Seems to be a fair amount of second element flapping without much sheet movement, maybe using twist instead of AOA to control power in the wing.
Challenger: Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)
GP: Same as Artemis – flying high, stable and killing it. 98% on foiling tacks, 100 on gybes. For sure the most manoeuvrable boat/team. They haven’t been in Bermuda long, it seems like they are getting new foils this week. Im sure the spy team has some good data on the speed of the other boats so I expect them to be right in the game.
BG: Flying super high, boat handling is impressive looks like they are sailing a moth. The big gull wing foils are impressive too. Same thing as Artemis, the second element seems to be pumping with no AOA (angle of attack) changes. Seems like their last set of foils are either just coming online or they are waiting for them. The kiwi fans are impressive looking at some of the negative Oracle Team AUS hate one sees online (you said it first I’m just copying).
Challenger: SoftBank Team Japan (JPN)
GP: Seems like they are in the game for the most part. They are manoeuvrable, have a good race record and a solid team. Seems like they are taking the approach of steady paced development with their equipment with an emphasis on sailing their boat. It seems to me like they sail their boat better than Oracle. As far as we know there has been a lot of, if not complete, parallel development of the equipment with Oracle. Like Oracle, they fly lower all the time than Artemis and NZL, also with a lot more bow down attitude albeit not as low and as much as Oracle.
BG: Some solid people in the team, and I believe they have taken good races from everyone so they will be in the game. Do you remember watching the race against Artemis where both boats tacked from starboard to port after the right turn at the bottom? Artemis showed a pretty impressive gain from a good tack. They were the first ones to show foiling tacks and they seem to be quietly chipping away without a whole lot of public media blitz.
Challenger: Land Rover BAR (GBR)
GP: It’s pretty hard to tell what’s going on with them. They seem slow, gybes are ok, foiling tacks are almost nonexistent. Race record was bad, and based on the videos it looks like they are slow. Again, we don’t know the timelines for foil development and implementation with these teams; may just be they waited as long as possible to pull the trigger on their designs. At the moment they will probably win a couple races, but not likely against Artemis or NZL.
BG: I don’t think there is a lot of ‘wait to the last minute to pull the trigger with the design’ as the gear takes so long to build. They do seem to have some speed issues – maybe they will sort them out by the time the flag drops
Challenger: Groupama Team France
GP: They look like me at my first Moth regatta, however, the .videos on May 9-10 show a lot of progress with their boat handling. They went from not even really being in the sailing area a week ago to actually going for it now. They pulled off a few foiling gybes and were almost foil tacking. Boat looks like it has stability issues and doesn’t like to fly all the time. Definitely does some “porpoising”. I have them battling it out with BAR for the final spot in the semi-finals. They are a good team and will know how to close out a race if they have even a little bit of pace and get into a good spot tactically.
BG: I have seen the porpoising also – not sure what is happening there. I have not had a chance to watch in the last couple days maybe they have improved a lot.
As published on Scuttlebutt on May 15th, 2017