Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie looks back on a tough first week in the America's Cup World Series
Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR), launched in January this year, is competing in the 2012/13 America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) with a long term vision to challenge for the 35th America’s Cup – following the conclusion of the 34th Cup in San Francisco next year.
Ben looks back on the teams first week, and admits it is “harder than it looks!”
“The end of our first week in the America’s Cup World Series and I feel like we’re going out on a high. OK, we didn’t get onto the podium and some may question whether our final position lived up to expectations. But I can tell you from my perspective, I’m really pleased at how things went. Of course our longer term view is to be at the front of the fleet but it is very early days and I feel that I’ve learned a great deal in a short space of time. Today’s race was a great way to finish a challenging week.
I couldn’t expected too much from my first venture into this world and I had to keep telling myself that, but any competitive sailor would be the same, once you get stuck in you always want to do better. But today was a massive step up. We had Simeon Tienpont back on the bow and that did make a difference to our boat handling. Brad Webb has done a superb job for us all week and I’m very grateful for his help while Simeon has been sick, but the fact is that Simeon is a bigger more powerful guy and on a breezy day that made a difference.
Boat handling wise we made a massive step up today and that’s given me a good deal more confidence about moving forwards now.
I will admit to being a bit apprehensive about today. The forecast was for a fair bit of wind with the tide running against it, similar conditions to the practice week in which five boats capsized. In a fleet race you end up pushing even harder than normal, whether you want to or not, so the potential for a capsize was a real one today. Add to this the fact that I just don’t yet know where the limit is with these boats and I suppose it is hardly surprising that I feel a bit out of my comfort zone. I’ve spent so much time in the Finn that I guess I take for granted the fact that I know the boat so well I don’t even think about it. Here it’s been very different. As it turned out we didn’t have any dodgy moments at all today which is down to the guys on board who did a superb job.
I knew that sailing these boats would be really tough physically, especially for the crew. From a sailing point of view I’ve been watching quite a few videos of the racing for a while now, knowing that I would be involved. What has struck me is the difference between what I thought was obvious and what it feels like on board. You look at people making mistakes and question why they are doing that, surely it’s obvious? But now I can tell you for sure, when you’re on the boat it’s not that easy. In fact it’s really hard. You can’t just tack on a shift or pop in a manoeuvre.
It really is a lot harder than it looks on the telly, but I’m also really enjoying it.”