The first day of ACWS fleet racing in San Francisco sees Ben Ainslie Racing take the lead

Hotfoot from the Olympics to the first ACWS event in San Francisco in August proved to be a challenging affair for Ben Ainslie. Changing gear from his Finn to a 45ft wing masted cat was clearly a big leap, especially given that he had only sailed one once before. But as one of his crew, Simon Daubney, one of the Cup’s most experienced sailors, told me during the event, ‘you only need to tell Ben something once. He has an amazing capacity to pick things up.’

Yesterday’s performance seemed to validate that. With the second ACWS event now underway it is still early days for the British team but the initial signs look promising as BAR won the first fleet race and took a third in the second race to take the overall lead at the end of the day.

Today, Friday, sees the second wave of quarter finals in the match racing where Ainslie’s team will face Oracle Spithill. In the 13 minute, all or nothing duel, Ainslie will need to beat the current America’s Cup holder to stay in the match racing. It’s a big ask, but with Ainslie’s reputation for springing surprises, it’ll also be a match worth watching and is due to start at 0022GMT.

After that the second day of fleet racing gets underway.

You can watch the action live either on You Tube via the main America’s Cup home page, or by using the free Virtual Eye iPad/iPhone app.

Here’s a re-run of yesterday’s action on YouTube, followed by the official press release on Thursday’s racing.

ACWS – PRESS RELEASE – Thursday 4 Oct 2012

England’s Ben Ainslie arrived at the first America’s Cup World Series San Francisco in August fresh from winning his fifth Olympic medal. With scant time to prepare for some of the most competitive sailing in the world, he struggled to learn a new boat and new fleet.

Now, with a month of preparation under his belt, Ainslie has streaked to the early lead in the fleet racing championship of the second AC World Series San Francisco.

Sailing in 15-knot winds late this afternoon, Ainslie’s J.P. Morgan BAR crew won the first race by 17 seconds and followed it up with a third in the second race to lead the series with the high score of 21 points.
Five points behind in a three-way tie for second is ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (Jimmy Spithill), winner of the second race, Artemis Racing – Red (Nathan Outteridge), which scored a pair of fourths, and ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS (Russell Coutts), which scored a 3-5.

“We had a nice start and a good first race with Nathan and Team New Zealand. We hung on and are delighted to get our first win in this series,” said Ainslie, who won his fourth Gold medal at the Olympics. “It comes down to practice and time in the boat, just like anything
else. If you don’t train and put the effort in you’re not going to get the results.”

Spithill, who won the August AC World Series San Francisco, was disappointed with the first race, an eighth place. He noted a bad start and a few mistakes around the racecourse, but rebounded in the second race to win going away by 37 seconds.

“It was good to get that one under our belt. The boys were fired up after the first race and they ground us up into a sizable lead,” said Spithill. “Any team here can win. The boats are the same and it comes down to the team that sails well. Ben did a fantastic job and deserves
to be leading. He sailed very well.”

Outteridge, sailing his first fleet races with Artemis Racing, showed the steady hand he’s shown in the past by scoring a pair of fourths.


The two remaining quarterfinal matches are scheduled for Friday afternoon, with:
0005 GMT – Artemis Racing – Red taking on ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS at 4:05 pm PDT
0022 GMT – J. P. Morgan BAR meeting ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL at 4:22 pm PDT.
0050 GMT – After that, fleet races three and four are scheduled, beginning at 4:50 pm PDT.


AC World Series San Francisco Fleet Racing Championship (After 2 of 7 races)

1. J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) 1-3 – 21 points
2. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (Jimmy Spithill) 8-1 – 16
2. Artemis Racing – Red (Nathan Outteridge) 4-4 – 16
2. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS (Russell Coutts) 3-5 – 16
5. Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) 2-8 – 14
6. Artemis Racing – White (Terry Hutchinson) 10-2 – 12
7. Energy Team (Loick Peyron) 6-7 – 11
8. Team Korea (Peter Burling) 5-9 – 10
9. Luna Rossa Piranha (Chris Draper) 9-6 – 9
10. China Team (Phil Robertson) 7-10 – 7
11. Luna Rossa Swordfish (Iker Martinez) 11-11 – 2

ACWS Official Results