The second day of the America’s Cup World Series in Naples was a tough day on the water for Ben Ainslie’s J.P.Morgan BAR. Two bad starts for the crew saw them forced to play catch up, but some great crew work, boat handling and good tactical calls kept the team in contention on the overall leaderboard. They head into the penultimate day of racing in fourth place overall, just three points separate the top four teams and with the loaded points on the final race on Super Sunday there is everything still to play for.
The first start of the day saw J.P.Morgan BAR late for the line following a wrap in the wing sheet, skipper Ben Ainslie explained the issue after racing, 'We had a problem with the wing sheet where it got wrapped around the winch handle and then we weren’t able to trim it on. It’s a bit like driving a car out of gear, pressing the accelerator when you’re not in gear and nothing happens, so obviously we couldn’t accelerate and we were last off the line.'
The crew battled through the pack, picking the best shifts and trying to avoid the bad air as the boats jostled for space on the race course. At times the fleet was caught in a giant pile up at the gates as everyone fought for space. The team worked hard pulling back valuable places to finish sixth on the first race.
In race two J.PMorgan BAR was one of four teams who jumped the gun and were forced to take the time penalty. Strong crew work saw the team pull back to fourth at the finish, just behind Emirates Team New Zealand.
'It was a tough day at the office,' was Matt Mitchell’s synopsis of the day, 'We were back in the ruck today and it was pretty scrappy on the race course. In that situation you don’t get to choose where you want to go, so it was a totally different world from yesterday. As a result it was a day of pain for the boys on the boat, but we battled back nicely in both races. We rolled our sleeves up and got back up to mid-fleet and managed to salvage a few points. It’s still super close for the top five places so we will come back tomorrow and work hard for some more consistent results.'
Many teams had mixed fortunes today including damage to both Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Swordfish after a port starboard incident in their match race. The other Italian teams, Luna Rossa’s Piranha, were forced to pull out of the final fleet race posting a DNF after discovering a fault on wing. Elsewhere Oracle Team USA Slingby and the French Team Energy had a faultless day, both teams posted a first and second in the two fleet races.
J.P.Morgan BAR will line up against their training partners Oracle Team USA in tomorrow’s match racing semi-finals. Ainslie is looking forwarded to the race against fellow Olympic gold-medallist Tom Slingsby. 'The match racing semi-finals are going to be great, we have been training with Oracle Team USA a little bit before this event so there will be plenty of bragging rights in house, so I’m looking forward to that. They had a fantastic day today so it should be a close race.'
With three fleet races remaining, including the Super Sunday, just three points split the top four teams.
J.P.Morgan BAR crewmember Simon Daubney has competed in eight America’s Cups and won four, little surprise that he is considered as one of the most experienced sailors on the America’s Cup World Series circuit. His impressive background makes him perfectly placed to comment on the Cup and how big a task the next Cup cycle will be.
Day 2 Naples – Overall standings after four fleet races:
1 Oracle Team USA Slingsby – 38pts 2 Energy Team – 36 Pts 3 Emirates Team NZ – 36 Pts 4 J.P. Morgan Bar – 35 Pts 5 Luna Rossa Piranha – 33pts 6 Luna Rossa Swordfish – 23 Pts 7 Artemis White – 21pts 8 HS Racing– 17pts 9 China Team – 14pts by Lucy Harwood – Ben Ainslie Racing