The 1851 kicks off to a perfect start ..for the Brits
Beating the current America’s Cup holders was clearly the goal for Team Origin, but nailing the first two races will have put a big smile on the team’s faces, especially given the nature of their wins.
In the first of nine match races (and one around the island race) that are planned for the next four days, the racing started with an aggressive head to head match between the pair that saw the Brits trail by a couple of boat lengths by the weather mark. But as the pair rounding opposite marks at the bottom gate, it was Ainslie and Co.s decision to take the right hand side of the course that placed them into the lead. Reading the conditions correctly in their home waters was perhaps something you’d expect the local boys to do, yet the margin between the two boats meant that it was easy to let a slight advantage slip. But as Team Origin worked its way up the second beat the British team extended their narrow lead to a healthy margin by the second weather mark rounding. A margin that carried to the finish despite a technical problem on board that made for a very untidy and potentially risky gybe.
Coming from behind will have been a satisfying way to win the opening match.
In the second race, coming from behind was the undoing of BMW Oracle Racing before the race had even started. With a west going tide sweeping both boats up to the start line the pair were at risk of being early at the start. Origin appeared to know this and were trying desperately to kill time, but with BMW Oracle racing’s skipper James Spithill keen to push the Brits up and in to the committee boat, the American team underestimated the effect of the tide and ended up shooting themselves in the foot at the start. Somehow Ainslie had found room to get his bow down just in time. Result, BMW Oracle was OCS, an expensive mistake to make on a short two lap race and one that handed the Brits a second win.
With some gear issues aboard both boats and conditions getting more lively by the minute thanks to the building tide pressing against a building breeze, the third race was postponed for the day as the teams headed for the shore.
During the Cup boat racing the Artemis Challenge fleet had smoked along Cowes Green at the end of their race around the Isle of Wight, while at the same time the Extreme 40s scorched around their inshore races in the same area. Rarely have we seen quite so much action after the main Cowes Week racing has finished. But in many ways this characterises this year’s action at Cowes Week which, thanks to the many racing series within the week, feels more like a festival of racing than ever.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, sees three more match races planned with an anticipated start time of 15.30, watch out for the action online and on Cowes Radio.