Ben Ainslie Racing is first America’s Cup team to practise in Bermuda
by Risa Merl
Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) is the first of the 35th America’s Cup teams to test the waters of the Cup’s recently announced location of Bermuda.
BAR conducted its training camp in Bermuda last week and released this video, below, showing the team’s exploits on – and under – the Bermudian waters:
The team’s objective for the training camp was to get acclimated with the local sailing conditions and work on improving its foiling skills.
“We turned up here with preconceived ideas about everything,” says BAR Sailing Manager, Jono Macbeth. “But it’s not until you actually step foot on the island that you get a feel for what’s going on. It’s going to be completely different compared to last Cup where the wind direction was the same every single day. Here we have seen wind from just about every corner." Great sailing conditions with variable winds is just one of the six reasons why Bermuda won the bid to host the America's Cup.
The team was kept to a rigorous schedule with up to six hours of sailing per day. Ben Williams, BAR’s head of Strength and Conditioning, also put the team through the paces with a good workout as well.
“It’s been great for us as a sailing team to get away,” says Ainslie. “It’s almost been a military operation, our fitness trainer is an ex-Marine and pushing us pretty hard in the morning and evenings. And out on the water we have been sailing and training very hard – but bonding as a team, being away and really focusing on sailing and training.”
The video shows the team taking to the water on its hydro-foiling 6.1-metre training yachts, mere fraction of the size of the new AC62 yachts that will be used in the Cup in 2017, yet still packing high-performance capability.
“These boats are very powerful, very fast – it’s high-impact when you wipe out,” says Ainslie. “So we’ve been doing a lot of underwater training, using spare air, that’s something we’ve incorporated into our fitness program.” The team had to do a drill where they had to swim to the bottom and take some breaths using handheld air tanks.
“Bermuda is just the most beautiful island,” says Ainslie, “the people are so warm and friendly and are really excited about having the America’s Cup here. As a sailing venue it is a real challenge, it is such a tight course and the wind is really variable out here in the middle of the Atlantic. A huge amount has been learnt, and we can now go back to our design team and start working on developing the final race boat for 2017.”