Nerves jangled before start with memories of practice day and the close calls for most still in their minds
The practice day in Gothenburg had been a hair raising experience for many of the teams as gusty conditions saw several bury their bows and come perilously close to capsize.
Local team Artemis stepped over the line and went for a swim. With a forecast for similar conditions there was every chance of a repeat performance.
To add to the stress, the course area was so small that there were 11 legs in the 20 min race as well as rocks in the middle of the course and big puffs and shifts in the breeze.
At the start the Kiwis nailed the time on distance to the windward end of the line, but it was Oracle Team USA that held the inside berth come the first mark rounding and the bear away to the leeward gate.
Sandwiched in between was Land Rover BAR and Artemis who struggled to keep clear air.
Come the first leeward gate, Spith
ill’s Orcale Team USA had extended their lead leaving the rest of the pack to battle it out.
As the race continued it became more apparent that the left hand side of the course was where the gains were to be made on the upwind leg. Ainslie took advantage of this and hauled his team up into second on the third beat while Iain Percy’s Artemis dropped from second to fourth.
From there, apart from Ainslie making further gains on Oracle, Spithill’s crew held their nerve and they pressed out to the left when it mattered on the final beat to take a well deserved win in the first of the day’s two races.
Race 1 results
1 OracleTeamUSA takes win then
The second race of the day saw a change in the breeze as conditions lightened, the team that nailed the start remained the same as Jimmy Spithill’s Oracle Team USA hit the line at speed, bang on time, to lead around the first mark.
Once again, from there on, the American team only extended its lead in a near flawless race leaving the scrap for second and third astern.
Here is was a 20 minute needle match between Peter Burling steering Emirates Team New Zealand who started the race in second and Ainslie aboard Land Rover BAR taking third.
As an indication of how close this battle was, it was simply a poor gybe half way through the race that saw the Kiwis perform a wheelie that allowed Ainslie through.
At the windward mark the Brits kept second place despite the kiwis being so close astern that there was barely room for them to get their bowsprit to leeward as they avoided Softbank Team Japan who were coming upwind on starboard.
Despite the costly duck to avoid an issue with their former skipper Dean Barker, the Kiwis got the better of Ainslie on the run to take 2nd on the final beat to the windward gate. Here the rounding was a reversal of the previous rounding but there was more fun to come.
The Kiwis hadn’t prepped a code zero, Ainslie had and picked his moment later on the downwind leg to deploy. The tactic had worked in Portsmouth and it worked again here, taking the Brits into second just a few metres from the line.
Race 2 results