Ben Ainslie in San Fran day 1: All ablur

Ben Ainslie in San Fran day 1: All ablur

Thursday August 23 2012 Author: Ben Ainslie BAR Location: none selected

So, having won both of our matches against Team Korea, we’re through to the next stage of the match racing series, the quarter finals. Clearly we’re very pleased, but that was a day like no other so far. I think I’m still trying to take it all in.

What’s becoming very clear already is that when the breeze is up, the pace is incredible. The whole way round the guys are working flat out just handling the boat. No sooner have we set up for one leg it’s time to turn a corner, deploy the gennaker, trim on, hit the boundary, furl, gybe, unfurl, swap the boards trim on and hike out. Sometimes it’s less than a minute before we are doing the operation again, especially if we’re on port coming back at our opponents downwind

As the helmsman I’m the only one who really has any time to look around and make some decisions. I was genuinely amazed at how fast things happened and how close the racing was.

I guess our score line so far might make it look like we had a straightforward time, but we had plenty of issues to deal with as we went around the course. In the first start we had a riding turn which put us in a difficult position. On the second start we were late as we struggled to get from the finish back up to the starting area in time as we beat against the tide. Then during the second race we had a problem with a bad furl on the gennaker. Fortunately we were able to buy some time at the weather mark to sort the problem as we engaged in some match racing with Team Korea by luffing them a couple of times and preventing them from rounding the mark. Having said that, it almost cost us dearly as we were precariously close to the electronic boundaries of the course as we bore away but we managed it….just.

I’m not making excuses, especially as we won both races but today was an eye opener for me and I’m sure there will be plenty more. But I think all the teams would agree that in these short, fast two lap races that are designed to last just 13 minutes, if you get on the back foot for one manoeuvre the problems start to snowball and it’s really difficult to get back into your stride.

Having said that, I think that our crew work was good today, especially as our bowman Simeon Tienpoint got sick yesterday after racing and had to pull out. Brad Webb came in cold and did a superb job in what became an exercise of rapid problem solving for us all.

So after our first day of official racing we’re pleased with how it went but this is a tiny step forwards in the campaign and there’s a huge amount to learn.

After the race, during the public presentation and the media interviews I said that the day was a blur – honestly, I meant it

Photos by Jon Nash/BAR

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