With a month of AC45 preparation under his belt Great Britain's Ben Ainslie sailed J.P. Morgan BAR to the front of the pack on the first day of fleet racing at the America's Cup World Series in San Francisco, USA.
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.
"We had two really good starts,"
said Outteridge. "We focused hard on getting the good starts and it worked well for us. We need to work on the other little pieces of the race to stay ahead, but if we can sail every day like today, we'll be alright.
The fleet races were held later in the afternoon after the first two quarterfinal races in the match racing championship. Artemis Racing - White (Terry Hutchinson) defeated young upstart Team Korea (Peter Burling) while Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) beat Energy Team (Loïck Peyron).
The two remaining quarterfinal matches are scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, with Artemis Racing - Red taking on ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS at 4:05 pm PDT and J. P. Morgan BAR meeting ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL at 4:22 pm PDT.
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