Swedish Challengers were up on foils for the first time aboard their newly launched second AC72, Big Blue
Artemis is back on the Bay as the Swedish Challengers sailed their newly launched second boat, Big Blue for the first time yesterday, Wednesday. The maiden sail ended on a high with the team getting up on foils.
“Exactly what our team needed”, said helmsman Nathan Outteridge as he stepped ashore. “We got the boat on the water and foiling and we’re happy with how it was foiling… It’s a massive tribute to all the guys who have been working so hard to get us back out there.”
So how long would it be before the team races?
“We’d like to hope August 6 is achievable,” Outteridge explained. “But we know how much work is ahead of us now and we don’t have a lot of time. This was day one for us while the other teams are on day 70 or 80, so we know we’re a long way behind, but today was a big day in terms of catching up. Each step will evolve and we’ll try to keep moving as fast as we can.”
While Outteridge and the team were clearly delighted and no doubt relieved after a successful day afloat there is no doubt that the maiden sail was a huge day for the team. Not only had they got up onto foils, a big deal for any team no matter what the budget, but their journey to this stage has been a traumatic and stressful one. Wednesday’s sail was as much about getting back on the horse as it was about taking a step back into the Challenger fleet. From where they’ve come from, every successful step will doubtless feel like a small victory.
As Outteridge points out, there is a huge mountain to climb, but this is a team on a mission and while it seems unlikely that they will be able to beat the polished Kiwis, I wouldn’t be surprised if they beat Luna Rossa in a match or two. There is a head down, no nonsense, single-minded, buzz about this team that is more than the normal competitive urge. Pulling together and achieving their goal is a cathartic experience for a team that is still hurting from its tragedy two months ago.
Just before that accident sailing team director Iain Percy described the position of the team to me as being like turning up late for an open meeting where all you can do is to concentrate on getting afloat and getting to the start on time. Having this determined approach can sometimes produce surprising results. But then came the crash.
A week before the start of the Louis Vuitton Challengers series, when the team was still in deep shock but in the early stages of rebuilding their campaign, I visited Percy and his team at their base in Alameda where he continued the analogy.
“We’re not just late anymore, we’ve missed the first couple of races of the open meeting,” he told me. “That puts you in a very different place. Some of the pressure is actually taken off and you can focus on making sure that your performance is as perfect as you can make it from now on.
“We know we’re unlikely to be the Challenger. But we also know that we cannot make the same mistake a second time. We will not be cutting corners to get back into the event. We have set a process to get us back on the water and onto the race course and if that process doesn’t finish properly we’re not going to race. In preparing boat number two that was constructed to foil we had to re-address some of the load cases to ensure the structural integrity of the boat and that has meant re-assessing everything.”
Yesterday’s successful sail provides a well deserved boost for the team where some of the early stages of Percy’s process have been ticked off. Given the spirit inside the team base I’m not surprised they’ve been successful at getting back on the horse and with their attitude and ability, I think there could be a few more surprises to come from this team.
CNN MAINSAIL – MUST WATCH
While Artemis have clearly taken the first steps in moving forward, the current show in the monthly CNN Mainsail series is a moving and pertinent reminder of the depths from which the Swedish team has had to recover.
Hosted as always by double Olympic Gold medalist Shirley Robertson takes look at the Artemis tragedy in, ‘The Day That Changed Everything’. It’s essential viewing.
The programme is in three parts and depending on how you come to it you may have to dig a round a bit to see all three, but its worth it.
Here’s a short link to the programme: