Andy Beadsworth looks forwardThe sailors in Britain's GBR Challenge for the America's Cup know they are on a steep learning curve, and Andy Beadsworth says that the Sun Microsystems Australia Cup which begins in Perth on Wednesday and the Swedish Match Tour are an important part of their programme.
The British are returning to the America's Cup arena for the first time since 1987. Their programme has many facets, but match racing is high on the priority list. Beadsworth is no newcomer to the Swedish Match Tour, having used it in his campaign for the last Olympics, but says it is of greater importance to a Cup programme.
Relaxing on the balcony of the Royal Perth Yacht Club, between practice sessions, Beadsworth explained the difference. "In the past we have been doing the Swedish Match as just part of a sailing programme really. The emphasis has been on the Soling, sailing in a smaller boat and not so much on the big boats. Obviously now we're focusing more on the big boats than the little boats. Swedish Match is a much bigger part of the programme if you like, towards an America's Cup programme."
Beadsworth is one of seven America's Cup skippers contesting the Sun Microsystems Australia Cup, the fifth event on the second year of the Swedish Match Tour. His crew are all members of GBR Challenge, and came to Perth straight from finishing ninth in the Steinlager Line 7 Regatta on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour.
At the Auckland event Andy Green steered the boat, but in order to get a wider spread of experienced helmsmen, Beadsworth is taking over in Perth, and Green will call the tactics. Explaining the strategy Beadsworth said: "I think last week was very good, although we've obviously interrupted the general progression by swapping helmsman. In some ways that's good, in some ways that's bad. But the crew itself has made a lot of gains, and come forward in their experience. We understand the way the boats work - time and distance, acceleration, decceleration and positioning - a lot more than we did two weeks ago."
It is early days for GBR Challenge, but with the current resurgence of enthusiasm for sailing in Britain, following an excellent showing at the Olympics, and Ellen MacArthur's performance in the Vendee Globe, Beadsworth believes they have a lot of support.
The Sun Microsystems Australia Cup runs from Wednesday 21st March to Sunday 25th March, with twelve top international crews competing on the Swan River's Matilda Bay.