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AC35: Day 5, Race 7 – FRA v. GBR

Groupama Team France v. Land Rover BAR. Franck Cammas v. Sir Ben Ainslie. Another pre-start penalty to the port-entry yacht – FRA – same as happened in the previous race to USA. Unlike the USA penalty, FRA got into the pre-start box in time, barely, but were slow on port tack and did not respond in time to GBR who were charging at them on starboard tack, or so say the umpires. Penalty FRA. IMHO, this is a crazy way to start a yacht race. FRA crossed the line first but is under the "go slow" penalty, and has to wait for GBR to catch up and pass. Did someone say this is a crazy way to start a yacht race?

GBR finally gets going and pulls forward of the nearly parked-up FRA, and Ben & Co. lead by :09 at the bear-away mark. On the short downwind Leg 2, amazingly FRA get ahead of GBR and lead by :19.

On the upwind Leg 3 GBR is a bit quicker when both boats are displacing in the light going (sailing with their hulls in the water, not foiling), and GBR gets through the gate barely ahead of FRA. TV shows a :01 second lead for GBR.

On the downwind Leg 4, we learn that Regatta Director Iain Murray has shortened the race to only five legs. It is a bloody shame because this is the best race of the day, albeit between two equally-slow boats in light air. At least they are in the same TV shot, and there are, huzzah, several lead changes! But ACTV has to be off the air at 1230 PDT (1530 EDT), so Iain & Co. shorten the race so that NBCSN can get back to Texas for the car auctions – probably more interesting than what we witnessed today in BDA, especially for non-sailors.

As I am typing that rant, down the run FRA goes ahead of GBR yet again (we've seen this movie before), passing through the Leg 4 gate with a 15-second lead. But once again FRA can't hold on to the lead upwind. Nearing the Leg 5 gate which, unfortunately, is now the finish line, LRBAR comes in from the right with a bit of pressure, has starboard advantage, dials down port-tack FRA at the cross big time, protests FRA for port-starboard (the protest was green-flagged, it was a non-issue; shame on you, Ben, for pushing the protest button). After the dial-down, GBR rounds back up and barely lays the port end of the gate, pipping FRA – who are finishing now at the starboard end, and having to do one more tack – by :23.

RR2 is now back on track thanks to today being reserve day that got put to good use by ACRM, and there being just enough wind to complete all four races that were postponed from yesterday due to lack of wind.

There's more breeze predicted for Friday and Saturday which should favor Artemis, and with BAR now having notched another point, and JPN looking more fit than the French, the Fat Lady is starting to warm up, and she may be thinking that the French are, well, toast. I'll take mine with some crispy British bacon on the side.

Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart Living.

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