After the first race of the day, three boats shared the lead while Artemis had performed a superb comeback on day 2 of the LV AC World Series
When asked how his close friend and skipper of Artemis Racing, Iain Percy would be feeling after his team’s run of poor performance and bad luck, Ben Ainslie took his time to reply.
“Sunday’s racing will be for double points,” he said. “They could go out there and win both races and win the regatta, so I wouldn’t write them off.”
Which is precisely what the home team set out to prove in the first of the two races as Artemis Racing slid off the front of the fleet to win by a huge margin. No one else got a look in for the lead during the light and shifty conditions on the Gothenburg course.
The night before Percy had demonstrated similar confidence in his team as we discussed the problematic start to the team’s 2015 LV ACWS season.
“I’m in a very different mood than I was in Portsmouth,” he said. “It’s frustrating and annoying for the guys who have to repair the boat after we went aground and damaged the main foil and rudder, but it’s clear to us that we were sailing much better. At this event we are up there with Ben and Oracle around the race course.”
Just under 24 hours later and his team was back in the frame, sailing like many had expected and disappearing off the front of the fleet.
Meanwhile, astern the battle for second, third and fourth continued to rage.
Eventually it was Emirates Team New Zealand who took second with Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR in third and Oracle Team USA in fourth which left all three boats on equal points for the lead.
Added to this, Artemis was now just two points behind.
The second and final race of the day would be the decider for the overall results.
1 Artemis Racing
2 Emirates Team New Zealand
3 Land Rover BAR
4 Oracle Team USA
5 Softbank Team Japan
6 Groupama Team France
When the final race started the breeze had become more fickle and puffy across the course and the fleet even more hungry to nail a good result.
Despite a dead even start where the boats were lined up like race horses as the starting gun went, within seconds there were winners and losers.
Among the winners, Oracle had got their nose out in front while Land Rover BAR and Artemis got buried by the pack.
From the three previous races chiseling out a slim advantage at the first turning mark was all that was required to kick off a race winning performance, but not in this one.
Half way through the race Oracle’s lead started to slide as they found themselves on the wrong side of a shift leaving Dean Barker aboard Softbank Team Japan to close the gap and take the lead – but only momentarily. As the fleet threaded through the windward gate it was the Kiwis that took the right hand side of the course for the penultimate downwind leg. Hooking into the slightly stronger breeze that had been there all day, they surged ahead of the fleet. A position they held until the end of the race and a performance that gave them the regatta win.
Meanwhile Softbank Team Japan and Groupama Team France took second and third respectively. Behind them Oracle Team USA were fourth giving them second overall while Ainslie finished a lowly fifth, but still keeping third overall.
Having a winner take all race as the final of the weekend was a dream ticket for the organisers, yet so too was the fact that during the four race regatta, all six teams had managed a podium position, a sure sign as to how the game is already closing up.
But close isn’t good enough for the top teams
For Ainslie, to fall from the top spot was frustrating.
“We are still pleased to be on the podium but it is disappointing for the team,” said Ainslie after the race.
“We had changed the rudder angle setting as we thought there would be a little more breeze and as it turned out we were a bit draggy. But nevertheless you still need to get a good start and we didn’t get a great one in the last race.”
For Oracle, missing the winner’s spot was equally disappointing.
“We’re having a very difficult time speed wise,” said Jimmy Spithill. “We felt good when the breeze was up and we were on the foils but we’ve got a lot a work to do in the light. We didn’t feel quick all day. We never felt like we had speed.
“It’s not a bad result but we wanted to win, simple as that.”
Naturally there was one team that was very happy with their performance. For the Kiwis, winning the event was clearly a big deal.
“We are really happy with how we performed today and the points base we put down yesterday,” said Emirates Team New Zealand’s helmsman Peter Burling. “It was always our goal to be ready for a light airs race.
“We’re absolutely stoked to come away with a win today.”
Final results Gothenburg ACWS
1 EmiratesTeamNZ -54
2 OracleTeamUSA – 48
3 LandRoverBAR -46
4 SoftBankTeamJPN – 43
5 ArtemisRacing -42
6 GroupamaTeamFr – 37
Overall results after two ACWS events
Emirates Team NZ – 72
Land Rover BAR – 65
Oracle Team USA – 64
Softbank Team Japan – 56
Artemis Racing – 53
Groupama Team France – 50