Please select your home edition
Edition
Rooster 2020 - Impact BA - LEADERBOARD

Sailing dynamite: A day for the match racing purists

by Mark Jardine 13 Feb 21:43 PST 13-22 February 2021

Many of the America's Cup traditionalists have derided the foiling revolution, vocally saying the speed of the yacht isn't important, it's all about close, tight racing. Right now, that viewpoint seems redundant as we've got both the extraordinary speed of the AC75s and full-on match racing. The combination is sailing dynamite.

After going two races down on day one, it was obvious that INEOS TEAM UK were going to be aggressive, but there's a fine line between aggression and greed. When Ben Ainslie was looking for the hook in race 3, Giles Scott correctly called that they were already on the lay-line for the left hand side of the line, gifting Luna Rossa the start. As Kenny Read said on the live commentary, Britannia was, "going for the hook when there wasn't one to be had".

After a tentative first lap, Luna Rossa took control on the second upwind leg, forcing Britannia left - classic match racing tactics.

On Leg 4 downwind INEOS TEAM UK nailed the leeward gate lay-line, performing a 'JK' mark rounding and tacked, a move named after legendary American sailor John Kostecki, reducing the deficit by 8 seconds.

The final upwind leg saw Luna Rossa again tacking on the face of Britannia twice, this time forcing the British team right.

Without a mistake Luna Rossa had this race nailed and they calmly stayed between Britannia and the finish line to go 3-0 with another flawless performance. In total each team performed 17 tacks in the race, giving the grinders on board a proper workout.

After the first race Luna Rossa's port-side helmsman Francesco Bruni said, "We are super happy after probably the first real match race we've seen with these boats."

Sir Ben Ainslie had no option but to tip his hat in reply to the Italians saying, "Nice race guys, we need to get our act together and carry on."

The numbers show Luna Rossa just slightly quicker around the course both upwind and downwind, but you'd expect that with a boat in the lead. There's nothing in it and it's all down to how they sail.

Race 4's pre-start saw a handling error on board Britannia, with the yacht heeling over hard, rising out of the water and splashing-down, gifting the start advantage to Luna Rossa. The British team were thankfully unscathed and calmly got back into race mode, trying to limit the damage in time lost to Luna Rossa, but the Italian team are not in the generous mood this Valentine's Day and kept tight control throughout.

The Brits were pushing it and up the second beat INEOS TEAM UK picked up a boundary penalty, leading Ben to exclaim, "What? Look at our track!". The boundaries aren't subjective - the umpires make the call over the radio, but it's the computer which makes the call as to when the line is crossed.

A big right shift on Leg 4 made the course very one-sided, so the rich got richer, with 85% of the final beat being on starboard tack. Another win for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli puts them 4-0 up going into Wednesday's racing.

It's not time for panic in the INEOS TEAM UK camp, but they're certainly facing an Italian team who have found their mojo. In the PRADA Cup Round Robins the dual helmsman setup was looked on as a weakness, but it was anything but this weekend. Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni are working together flawlessly, and the increasing tactical input from Pietro Sibello is proving highly beneficial.

The upgrades to their AC75, aside from the aero fairings, look concentrated on sail control, with the team able to gain more depth in their sails providing more power on the downwind legs. Sailing an AC75 in a match race is all about control, both of your own boat and that of your opposition, and the Italians are dishing out a masterclass in it.

INEOS TEAM UK's margin for error in this PRADA Cup Final is rapidly getting slimmer. There's nothing to call in the breeze with boat speed so winning the start is crucial. Going into a couple of days away from the racetrack Ben and Giles need to shift the momentum. As Ben said today, "We can sail one hell of a lot better than that and we need to."

As Ben said in Saturday's post-race press conference, the position hasn't changed, they still need to win seven races to progress. The problem now is that the Italians only need to win three.

Related Articles

Linda Ambrose and Marty McKenna on the J/70 NAs
Linda Ambrose and Marty McKenna on the 2021 J/70 North American Championship I checked in with Linda Ambrose, who serves as the AYC's Harborside Director, and Marty McKenna, who serves as the regatta's event chair, via email, to learn more about this exciting championship-level One Design regatta. Posted on 6 May
In conversation with Jelte Liebrand
The tech-savvy navigation entrepreneur savvy navvy is the boating app that puts all your essential marine information in one place: tidal graphs, weather forecasts, automatically updated chart data, routing, GPS tracking, marina information and more. We spoke to founder Jelte Liebrand... Posted on 6 May
Gladwell's Line: Pressing ignition on pro-sailing
The sail racing world is spluttering back into life after over 12 months of being hostage by COVID The sail racing world is spluttering back into life after over 12 months of being hostage to the COVID pandemic - here's a look at how SailGP and the America's Cup coped, plus the 2024 Olympic event quandary. Posted on 6 May
How terribly fitting - ISOLAtion
And such good use of time, too! As a word, ISOLA could mean a lot of things And such good use of time, too! Now as a word, ISOLA could mean a lot of things. Obviously there's ‘island' in Italian, and it's also a girl's name as well, which are all very fitting when it comes to boats... Posted on 5 May
Steve Bourdow on the 2021 Moore 24 Nationals
An interview with Steve Bourdow on the 2021 Moore 24 Nationals I checked in with Steve Bourdow, who serves as fleet captain of the Southern California Moore 24 class, via email, to learn more about the 2021 Moore 24 Nationals (May 7-9), which are being hosted by the Santa Cruz Yacht Club. Posted on 4 May
Alternate reality
Is the Paris 2024 10th medal hammering a square peg in a round hole? This time 40 years ago the drummer Nick Mason released an album called Fictitious Sports. As with his band Pink Floyd, Hipgnosis were called upon for the album art, creating the image you see above, which seemed apt as an intro for this editorial. Posted on 3 May
SailGP news, TOR goes green, and new IMOCA rules
Latest newsletter from Sail-World's David Schmidt in the USA The weather may have been cold and rainy for the Seattle Yacht Club's Protection Island Race this past Saturday on Puget Sound, but things were fortunately warmer in Bermuda, where sailing unfurled for the first event in the 2021 SailGP season. Posted on 27 Apr
SailGP season opener serves and frustrates
Incredible logistics and technology needs a little honing I take my hat off to the logistics team that the event happened at all. With a lockdown in Bermuda and the general difficulties in travel, getting eight international teams and the paraphernalia to a small island in the North Atlantic was no mean feat. Posted on 26 Apr
52 pick up
Somebody only gets you the once. Hopefully… Somebody only gets you the once. Hopefully… Where the playing cards are held between the thumb and index finger, flexed down, and then sprayed out to a jumbled mess on the floor. Posted on 25 Apr
Sam Holliday on The Race Around's new solo class
Singlehanded and doublehanded Class 40 sailors can now get involved in the event's offshore action Thanks to a recent announcement from The Race Around, which is slated to begin in the summer of 2023, singlehanded and doublehanded Class 40 sailors can now get involved in the event's offshore action. Posted on 20 Apr
Lloyd Stevenson Catalyst 45 728x90px1 BOTTOMSea Sure 2020 - FOOTERDoyle Sails 2020 - By Sailors For Sailors 728x90 BOTTOM