Louis Vuitton World Series Day 1 in Oman is over and the results are in. Land Rover BAR, skippered by Ben Ainslie, won two of the three races on Saturday.
In the first race, Land Rover BAR was over the line at the start and was penalized. As part of the infraction, BAR was also involved in a minor collision with Groupama Team France. However, after the start and penalty, they were fairly far back in the fleet. But with a showing of major determination, BAR focused on great sailing and finished third in the race.
The winds in Oman for all three races were light, working to the advantage of Ainslie and his crew. Prior to the race, most pundits felt light airs were be to the advantage of ETNZ, but Ainslie took advantage of the conditions and sailed three strong races.
In Race 2 and race 3, Ainslie had the BAR team in excellent position throughout both races. BAR finished first in both.
Ainslie talked about the challenges for the races: “These conditions make it very challenging for everyone on board,” he said. “You need a decent start and to go the right way, so it’s tough on the tacticians. And then the big Code Zero headsails make for hard work for everyone else. It’s a big day for the team.”
The light air did not allow the AC 45’s to foil. Without foiling, the boats were not as fast as they can be, but with equal boats, even in a non-foiling mode, small mistakes turn in to large disasters.
SoftBAnk’s Skipper Dean Barker, an accomplished veteran of the last America’s Cup for ETNZ, felt that while the team was not sailing well enough to make the podium, the improvements were showing every race.
Barker said “I’m happy with the improvements we’re making,” he said. “We can see that we’re getting better. The last one was frustrating. It was looking so good for a while. But one mistake can be so costly. We’re just making little errors and in this fleet you get punished for it.”
At the end of Day 1, the team standings were:
1. Land Rover BAR – 8,10,10 —— 28 Points
2. Oracle Team USA – 9,6,9 ——– 24 Points
3. Emirates Team New Zealand – 10,7,5 ——-22 Points
4. Softbank Team Japan – 6,9,6 ——–21 Points
5. Artemis Racing – 7,5,8 —— 20 Points
6. Groupama Team France – 5,8,7 ——20 Points
Racing resumes Sunday morning ET and the points are doubled for each race and position.