Sunday, 1 August 2010

1851 Cup Preview

TEAMORIGIN sponsored by Jaguar. Image copyright Ian Roman/TEAMORIGIN.

by Leslie Greenhalgh

With just three days to go to the start of the 1851 Cup on Tuesday 3rd August, preparations are in full swing as the rest of Cowes Week starts today, Saturday 31st July. Yesterday a mixed crew from both competing teams took USA-87, newly branded as TEAMORIGIN ‘Racing with Jaguar’, out for a shakedown sail in the middle of the Solent.

USA-87 is now liveried up in TEAMORIGIN’s colours, including the significant Jaguar logo down the side. This is the first time the boat has sailed since the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Sardinia in May when it was damaged in a collision with USA-98. Today, Saturday, the same mixed crew will take USA-98 out for the same shakedown sail. This is the boat that BMW ORACLE Racing will race next week and will be skippered by James Spithill the skipper of the America’s Cup winning trimaran USA.

The full crews of both teams are arriving from all over the world in preparation for the practice racing on Monday. Some of the BMW ORACLE Racing crew are competing in the RC44 Regatta in Valencia which ends tomorrow.

TEAMORIGIN skipper Ben Ainslie and his tactician and strategist Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson arrive today from Weymouth where they have preparing for the Sail for Gold Regatta which starts straight after the 1851 Cup next week. Most of the crews have raced in Cowes before but not all, some have never been to Europe’s largest regatta before - a regatta where over a thousand yachts will compete in some 30 odd classes over the next seven days.

Principal Race Officer for the 1851 Cup is none other than New Zealander Harold Bennett, the man who was also PRO for the incredible 33rd America’s Cup Match in Valencia last February. Harold, one of the most experienced race officers and youth coaches in the world, has never been to Cowes before either. He will work with the Royal Thames Yacht Club Race Committee to blend his experience of organising short course match racing courses for the America’s Cup with the Thames’ experience of operating in the highly-congested and tidal Central Solent area.

On Saturday Harold was familiarising himself with the layout of everything and just taking in the sheer scope and scale of Cowes Week.

“This is a truly outstanding spectacle. To run racing for all these classes in this stretch of water requires a finely honed and experienced organisation. I have just arrived in Cowes and so its all new to me. I’m really looking forward to watching the racing.“

“With regard to the 1851 Cup and working with the Royal Thames YC Race Committee, they’ll be doing everything just as they always do. I’ll keep an overview on proceedings and manage the relationships with the two teams, but I’m going to need to totally rely on the Thames’ vast experience of running racing here in Solent.”