A successful day of practice racing for the six America’s Cup teams ahead of the AC40 Jeddah Preliminary Regatta.
And for Ben Ainslie and his Ineos Britannia crew it was a much improved performance after the dire first Prelim regatta in Spain, where they struggled to get their AC40 on the pace.
After a win in the first race – disqualified – a great start in the second, and a win in the third, they looked a much improved team.
Ineos helm Giles Scott admitted that they felt much better than when they left Spain, they had taken a look at themselves, and put more time in on the AC40 while balancing it around the Ac75 design programm as well.
With the bigger picture in mind it was day by day, and they really had to take as much out of the competitive sailing as they could, as it was so rare to get the chance to race with hte other teams.
The race committee initiated three match-race practice starts with ITA vs USA, FRA vs SUI and GBR vs NZ, all remarkable for the errors that crept in to all three race flights.
After the match-racing, the race management team moved into the three fleet races as the breeze remained constant around the 7-10 knot mark.
Fleet Race 1
INEOS Britannia made a brilliant start mid line and with pace and point, headed out to the port boundary and ended up leading at the top mark starboard exit.
American Magic kept in contention and then pounced right when it mattered. The key moment was the final port mark windward rounding where INEOS came in hot after making big gains out to the right.
American Magic tacked inside and a very near collision occurred with an unsighted Ben Ainslie bearing away over the bow of Tom Slingsby who was struggling to keep clear.
The British copped a penalty that they didn’t take, this was a practice race after all and a great place to test boatspeed, and at the finish line, although disqualified, INEOS Britannia crossed first ahead of American Magic.
Fleet Race 2
The tale of the tape was a dominant start to finish performance from Emirates Team New Zealand.
Ainslie and Scott looked rapid off the line and briefly held a lead but the Kiwis take a leeward position and applied a big squeeze on a starboard tack drag-race that saw the British forced to tack away.
From there it was all Emirates Team New Zealand as they rounded the port gate with Alinghi Red Bull Racing in second whilst Orient Express took the starboard gate in third place.
Devastating boatspeed, superb trim and ultra-smooth flight saw the Kiwis take the victory after three laps with Alinghi Red Bull Racing in second.
Fleet Race 3
The third race came alive with an utterly thrilling race from start to finish that saw INEOS Britannia shade arguably the most tactical race ever seen in the AC40 class.
Off the start-line, INEOS Britannia led the fleet back and nailed the pin-end to head out to the port boundary in pole position.
The race was a three-way battle between the British, Kiwis and Italians who swapped places as the wind filled and died around the 7-9 knot mark.
Awesome sailing from the British and smiles all round. Emirates Team New Zealand were second, Luna Rossa third.
First day of racing proper is Thursday 30 November 2023.