ORACLE TEAM USA transitions from training in Bermuda to racing in Oman this week with the start of the 2016 Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series season. Three races featuring six teams will be held on both Saturday and Sunday, February 27-28, on the Sea of Oman.
“We shift into race mode this week,” said skipper Jimmy Spithill. “We’ve been really focused on our development program. But, the racing is what you look forward to. We’re fortunate to be able to do both and we’re really excited for this weekend in Oman.”
ORACLE TEAM USA currently sits second in the overall Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series standings with 112 points, 10 points behind Emirates Team New Zealand, after three events last year. The focus this weekend is on improving.
“Everyone here has the same gear, the same boats, the crews are all the same weight. So, it comes down to the best teams,” Spithill said. “With the format now in the World Series and the fact that you go into Sunday with three races for double points, it really means it’s not over until the last race. This will be a hard fight.”
In addition to Spithill, the ORACLE TEAM USA sailing crew for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman includes Tom Slingsby, Kinley Fowler, Kyle Langford, Sam Newton and Matt Cassidy.
Sailing in the Sultanate of Oman will be familiar territory for Fowler, who spent time training and racing in the region. Fowler was on the crew for the Portsmouth event in 2015 and now returns to the lineup.
“It’s exciting to be back on the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series team,” said Fowler. “We’ve been running through video and trying to get back into that mindset.
“In our gym, ‘Oscar’ [Craig McFarlane], our trainer, did a really good job with setting up a circuit for us before Oman,” Fowler continued. “It has helped us get back into that really high heart rate, top handle, running across the net movement, and reorienting ourselves.”
In addition preparing to race the AC45F again, ORACLE TEAM USA will also be adjusting to the light wind conditions expected this weekend.
“We’re looking forward to getting back out on the race course,” said Slingsby. “It’s a challenging venue, and sailing in lighter conditions requires a lot more finesse, treading carefully and smooth movements.
“We just want to put in a good performance and sail as well as we can,” Slingsby continued. “I think if we do that, we’ll have a good result.”
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman marks the first time America’s Cup racing has come to the Middle East. Racing begins at 14:00 local on both Saturday and Sunday, with three races scheduled per day. The race course runs along the Al Mouj Golf Course in Muscat, along 2.5 km of unspoiled Arabian coastline.
Racing will be broadcast live in 140 territories around the world on television and on mobile devices internationally via the AC+ service (subject to territorial restrictions) on the America’s Cup App, which can be downloaded via www.americascup.com. A full “Where to Watch” guide can be found online HERE.
The 2016 Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series (ACWS) is ready to kick off in Oman with the first event of the season. Land Rover BAR begin the year in third place, three points behind Oracle Team USA and 13 points behind Emirates Team New Zealand.
The team have been preparing the AC45F over the past few days and today was the first opportunity to get out on the water. A full practice session will follow on Friday, with three races a day on Saturday and Sunday.
Ben Ainslie, Skipper and Team Principal: “2016 is going to be a really exciting year for us. We are heavily into our testing phase back home in Portsmouth, with our second testing boat, T2 back out on the water after our capsize at the end of 2015. There's a great line up in the America's Cup World Series with a full schedule of events. There's a lot to do for the team but we are happy with the progress going forward.
“I think for a new team – as we are – we felt happy with our third place position after the 2015 season, but we absolutely want to be moving up now. We want to be performing at the top of this America's Cup fleet.
“Oman looks set to be a great event, some of the team have raced here before, including myself and we like it. It's been four months since Bermuda and we are looking forward to getting back out.”
Giles Scott, Tactician: “We are all really excited to be racing again. After Bermuda we felt like we had things to build on, we need to manage the number of tacks and gybes – every manoeuvre has to be really thought about, so not to lose boat lengths.
“We know it will be light conditions, we're expecting 6-10 knots, so it will all be about sailing well and light wind technique. But you've really got to keep your eyes open for the pressure [wind] – if you get an extra two knots of wind come through then the boat speed increase could be huge.”
Jono Macbeth, Sailing Team Manager: “We are really looking forward to getting back out on the race course this week. We ended the 2015 season feeling a little frustrated, but overall we feel in a good position with where we are heading into 2016, and everything we learnt from the three 2015 ACWS events.
“Since the last event in Bermuda [in October] we've been out training on T2 – our second test boat – on the Solent, and have also returned to Bermuda for a training camp at the start of the year. So we've been making some good gains where we can, and hope to see them put into play in Muscat. Every race this weekend will be an opportunity to learn more, and we will continue to give it everything on the race course to get some solid results in this season.”
David 'Freddie' Carr, Runner: “In these light conditions, you just have to treat things a little more softly on the boat, not putting maximum body weight on anything as you don't want to shake the boat – so you're kind of a 'cat in silk slippers' as we call it. It's going to be a tough event, a racing cauldron in this heat and the short course racing will be hard – you've got to keep a cool head, keep chipping away and take your opportunities as they come.”
Friday has official practice racing followed by the Opening Ceremony. Racing takes place on Saturday and Sunday – with each race on Sunday counting as double points – beginning at 14:00 local time (GMT+4) each day.
Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Leaderboard after three events:
1. Emirates Team New Zealand 122
2. ORACLE TEAM USA 112
3. Land Rover BAR 109
4. Artemis Racing 105
5. SoftBank Team Japan 100
6. Groupama Team France 82
Land Rover BAR Oman line up:
Ben Ainslie – Skipper and Team Principal
Paul Campbell-James – Wing Trimmer
David 'Freddie' Carr – Runner
Nick Hutton – Trimmer
Giles Scott – Bow/Tactician
Andrew McLean – Runner/ Bow
Jo Lees – Boat Captain
Richy O'Farrell – Shore support
James Chapman – Rib driver and Shore support
Ian Boag – Shore support
Ben Williams – Lead Strength and Conditioning Coach / Safety support