The two-time defending champion of the America’s Cup, ORACLE TEAM USA, scheduled to open its title defence with a race against Groupama Team France in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers on Friday, will now need to wait a further day.
Gale force winds and heavy rains are forecast to buffet Bermuda on Friday and organizers have decided to postpone racing until Saturday.
“I think it’s the right decision to make this call early and give everyone enough notice,” said ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill. “It’s a shame, but the good news is that by Saturday we have some great weather coming in for the next week or so. We’ve waited over two years for this. Another day won’t hurt.”
Skipper Jimmy Spithill and his team have been based in Bermuda since early in 2015, preparing to win the America’s Cup for the third consecutive time.
“It was a strategic decision to set up here early and be the first team on the ground. You can’t shortcut the hours spent on the water in the venue,” Spithill said at the opening press conference. “It is one of the most beautiful places in the world and the Bermudians have been incredibly friendly and are very proud. With any venue we go to it is the people who make it and they are top level.
“It gives us extra motivation as the nominated home team, as well as representing the United States, and to have them cheering for us is huge, we want to make them proud and I definitely think that home support will make a huge difference.”
Following the press conference, ORACLE TEAM USA took to the Great Sound race course area for a final tune up run in top-end conditions over 20-knots.
In the strong winds, ORACLE TEAM USA hit new performance standards for its America’s Cup Class boat.
“The harder you push these boats, the faster you go. It’s as simple as that,” Spithill said somewhat prophetically at the press conference. “People wonder why F1 cars slide off the track when they have the best drivers in the world, but it’s because they’re trying to get everything they can out of the cars. For us, it’s no different.”
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers hold the promise of a bonus point in the Match, should ORACLE TEAM USA top the standings at the end of the double Round Robin series, providing added motivation.
“We are approaching this to win, that’s our goal,” said Spithill. “That point is worth fighting for.”