Land Rover BAR wing-trimmer Paul Campbell-James is hoping practice makes perfect after the hosts impressed on the eve of this weekend’s return of competitive America’s Cup racing to Portsmouth.
Old Portsmouth-based BAR claimed two wins and two third-placed finishes from yesterday’s four practice races to lift confidence in the camp.
And Campbell-James believes they are now well placed to cut into rival team Emirates New Zealand’s overall world series lead – starting tomorrow afternoon (1.30pm).
The Sir Ben Ainslie-led BAR are 10 points off the pace in the overall standings, sharing joint-second spot with defenders ORACLE Team USA.
With six races to contest this weekend and time on the water a precious commodity, Campbell-James is delighted with yesterday’s ideal preparation.
He said: ‘Everyone was taking yesterday as seriously as they will today.
‘And to come in with two first-placed finishes and two third-placed finishes is a really good day at the office.
‘Everyone in the team is confident going into today.
‘I think what pleased us most was our speed but in general I felt we were doing everything quite well.
‘We felt we were fast and that our boat handling was good.
‘Ben nalied all of the starts so there was a lot to be happy with.’
While BAR dominated in the first two races, winning both, the team they have their sights set on – Emirates New Zealand – suffered a disastrous return to the water.
With key members of their team missing owing to Olympic Games participation, a reshuffle forced skipper Glenn Ashby into the role of helmsman – vacated by Peter Burling.
The unfamiliarity within the boat took hold with a series of minor mistakes proving very costly early on.
Emirates got their act together soon after, though, to end the day with second and first-placed finishes.
And for tactician Ray Davies, it proved to be a very worthwhile outing.
He said: ‘We learned an awful lot from the early races.
‘We are sailing together as a new team with a lot of new positions on board and we really needed those practice races.
‘With this class you are not allowed to do a lot of training yourself – you have to just come and train at the event.
‘For us, we really needed those practice races to come to terms with sailing together in a new group.’
Davies also dismissed concerns that Ashby, usually a wing-trimmer, was inexperienced at the helm.
‘For Glenn the sailing side of it is not particularly hard because he is such a natural talent,’ said Davies.
‘The hard things are talking about the boundaries and crew manoeuvres but he is doing a great job with that.’