Artemis Racing grabbed the lion’s share of the spotlight, writing an epic comeback story on Sunday at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Bermuda.
The host venue of Bermuda was also shining bright, offering up perfect racing conditions, a large but controlled spectator fleet, and an enthusiastic public. It was a tremendous opening event in the home of the 2017 America’s Cup.
On the race course, the three double-point races had three different winners with Artemis Racing proving the most consistent performer on the day to take the win.
“This event meant a lot to us. We’ve always known we had the potential, but we’ve been tripped up by mistakes,” said Artemis Racing skipper Nathan Outteridge, his sailing kit dripping with celebratory Moët & Chandon champagne.
But this was an unlikely victory. Not only did the Swedish challenger arrive at the event in fifth place out of the six teams, but in the pre-start ahead of race two, the team was involved in a collision with an Umpire boat, incurring serious damage.
After a strong second place finish in the first race, it appeared Artemis Racing would be knocked out of the event. In the moments before the starting gun fired, the team ducked behind the Japanese boat, and as Outteridge turned up towards the line, he was confronted with an Umpire boat heading directly towards him. The closing speed would have been in excess of 25 knots.
“At that point we couldn’t go anywhere,” Outteridge explained. “He went straight between our bows but thankfully nobody was hurt. There was a serious amount of damage to our boat though.”
In work worthy of an F1 pit crew, the Artemis Racing squad stripped off the broken bow sprit and the now useless Code Zero sail in record time. After a quick check for reliability and with less than two minutes to spare, the team was lining up for the next start. Incredibly, they blasted of the starting line with more speed than anyone else and won not only the start but the second race.
“We owned that start… It was huge payback for all the hard work from the guys who stripped the gear off, checked the boat, and got us ready just in time.”
In the third and final race, the Swedish team needed to make a pass on the last leg to grab a fourth place finish and secure the points needed to win the regatta. It was a popular and well-deserved event win for Artemis Racing.
It was a less satisfying day for ORACLE TEAM USA, who won the first race, but then posted a third place and fifth place finish, settling for third overall.
“We just had a bad third race,” said skipper Jimmy Spithill. “We got a terrible start, and were on the back foot for the entire race. Artemis was able to slip past us near the finish and that cost us second place here and won them the regatta. We made too many mistakes in that race and that took us out of the running for the win.”
Emirates Team New Zealand, with an impressive win in race three, extends its advantage on the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series leaderboard.
“We’re absolutely stoked to have been able to put together some good performances this year,” said Kiwi helmsman Peter Burling. “We haven’t done too much sailing in those types of conditions. To win the last one by the margin we did was really satisfying.”
The racing wasn’t the only thing on display this weekend. This event marked the first racing at the host venue of the next America’s Cup and Bermuda delivered in style.
Over 10 000 people were on the water to watch the racing as near 2 000 spectator craft ringed the race course. The crowds on shore were equally impressive and enthusiastic.
“This was a fantastic day,” said Dr. Grant Gibbons, the Minister for Economic Development. “There is a lot of local excitement now. People were out cheering for their teams today. Friday night there was a good buzz here. Front Street was as excited as I’ve seen it in a long time… A fantastic weekend overall.”
“We’ve seen Bermuda come out and put its arms around this event and I think it shows this is going to be a great event in 2017,” said Russell Coutts the CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority.
“We had three races and three winners today. We’ve had three events now with three different winners. The racing is competitive and that makes it compelling. I wouldn’t even be surprised if we had another winner in our next event. That’s how close it is.”
Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Bermuda Results
1. Artemis Racing: 2 – 1 – 4 – 52 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand: 5 – 2 – 1– 50 points
3. ORACLE TEAM USA: 1 – 3 – 5 – 48 points
4. Land Rover BAR: 3 – 6 – 2 – 44 points
5. SoftBank Team Japan: 4 – 4 – 3 – 44 points
6. Groupama Team France: 6 – 5 – 6 – 32 points