'We had so little time it was almost like it was risky, crazy and a waste of money to get to the start line, because we thought we would have no chance whatsoever,' says skipper Jesper BANK (DEN), remembering the scramble to get racing in Valencia, Spain. 'We thought we would make a fool of ourselves and jeopardise our chance to promote ourselves to the public. But I'm glad we took the chance and went out there, because it is the only way to learn, to get out there and race against the best.'
The Germans were far from embarrassing themselves. In fact, they were perhaps the biggest surprise of the Valencia Louis Vuitton Acts, winning three matches and finishing tenth out of twelve.
Skipper BANK is a big reason for that success. As a veteran of the America's Cup from the last Victory Challenge (SWE) campaign, BANK can provide some shortcuts past the pitfalls first time challengers often fall into. And the six Louis Vuitton Acts this season provided an opportunity for his team to gain valuable racing experience that normally would not accrue until the beginning of the Louis Vuitton Cup.
'I can compare this with our situation with Victory last time round, when we were on our own for a long time,' BANK says. 'The first time we stepped up against another boat, we realized that time on our own was pretty much a waste of time. Now we have already raced the other teams in three venues, and that has boosted our learning curve to an extent that was impossible last time. It is a huge benefit for a team like us.'
The Germans finished tenth on the season leaderboard, ahead of Shosholoza (RSA) and China Team. It is a respectable start, but clearly there is still plenty of work to do.
'We have several issues to address,' BANK admits. 'It is hard to say which is the most important. We've got the team work, the crew work, the rig package, the sail package, the appendages, and the hull. We've got to come up with a total package that works best for us.
'We have had a chance to see how the big boys set up, and we are going home to try some of the set ups that seem most successful here. And we have to see if we can learn to handle it, because you can't just copy it and expect for it to work for you straight away. It takes some skill to set up like the best in the class.
'That's probably what we've learned the most. We've got a group of very skilled guys working outside the boat who have taken that data and fed it back to us. So we'll be working on that. It has been a very inspiring six Acts, where we've had a chance to see what the other guys are doing, and where they've taken it since the last Cup. We're going home to really explore it, find out what we'll use and what we won't use.'
Off the water, things were not all that smooth at the end of the season for United Internet Team Germany. Squabbling in the boardroom pointed to changes in the management structure of the team over the winter. The in-fighting may have affected the team during the final Louis Vuitton Acts in Trapani, Italy but BANK was not falling on that excuse.
'If you look back at the history of the America's Cup, you should not enter this game if you can't handle that as well,' he said at the time. 'But I'm not made of ice, so of course I am influenced when things really heat up around me. But I'm good at getting on the boat, and putting that behind me, and getting on with what we need to do. I can't say it has affected any of our races.'
If the German team can get that aspect of its house in order and the team can spend the winter focusing on the tasks skipper BANK has identified as priorities, look for United Internet Team Germany to move up the table in 2006.
The following table shows all race results from the three Match Racing Acts of the 2005 season: Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 4, Malmö-Skåne Louis Vuitton Act 6 and Trapani Louis Vuitton Act 8. The right column shows the total amount of points gained against each team throughout the year. The bottom row shows the total amount of races won per Louis Vuitton Act.
|© ACM 2005|
The following table lists all finishes during the three Fleet Racing Acts of the 2005 season: Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 5, Malmö-Skåne Louis Vuitton Act 7 and Trapani Louis Vuitton Act 9. The curve of the results charts the progress of the team over the year.
|© ACM 2005|