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America's Cup - Light winds play havoc with Practice Race Schedule

by America's Cup.com and Sail-World.com/nz on 18 May 2017
Derek Saward - Softbank Team Japan earlier in the Practice Session 5 Matt Knighton/Softbank Team Japan http://www.americascup.com
Day 3 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 3 as they continue repairs to their yacht.

The silver lining on the Kiwi cloud after their serious collision on Day 2, is that they will only lose one day of Practice Racing after today's non-event, and the teams have elected not to race on the penultimate day due to a light air forecast.

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 today 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 a lot 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 for tomorrow, America's Cup Race Managment (ACRM) and the teams have made the decision not to race. Practice racing will resume on Friday, conditions permitting.

Sir Russell Coutts, CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority, who has watched much of the action this week said, '“It's been a fascinating few days in varying wind conditions, which tests the boats and sailors to the limit - exactly what the America’s Cup should be about. There may not be practise racing tomorrow, due to lack of wind, and as we get ready for real next week, as with all America’s Cups, there will be days where conditions won’t be conducive to racing, and days when we will see some of the most compelling sport in the world. From all I’ve seen, it is anyone’s guess who will win, so should make for a memorable event.'

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