Australia driver Tom Slingsby and Emirates GBR driver Ben Ainslie have debriefed the first day of racing in Taranto, which sees both teams at the top of the leaderboard heading into day 2.
Teams battled gusts of 45 km/h on the windiest day of Season 4 so far, fighting to keep the F50s under control amid an unstable sea state.
Reflecting on the conditions, Slingsby said the first day was ‘scarier than I thought it would be’ and said the crews would have preferred the smallest 18m wing, rather than the 24m.
“I was looking forward to the wind for so long and it got really windy,” he said, describing the Aussie team as ‘very rusty at times’.
“I think if we’d had a practice day in those conditions, the fleet would have been a lot cleaner and you’d see better maneuvers and boat handling - it’s a bit of a shock to our system going out there in that much wind.”
Ainslie agreed, pointing to ‘a few sketchy moments’ throughout racing, which saw a foil on board the German F50 snap under pressure and U.S. flight controller Hans Henken injured.
“Most of the time it was fun (…) but the breeze was right on the limit for the 24m wings and we had some incidents,” he said.
The hardest part of the racing is simply ‘dealing with all the power’, he said. “There’s so much power in these boats - it’s really hard to describe to people. When you get a big gust in those bearaways and the foils and rudders are cavitating and the whole boat is shaking, you’re wondering when it’s all going to hold together.”
Both teams head into day two of racing in pole position - leading the fleet with 26 points apiece. It comes after Emirates GBR picked up its first event win since Season 2 in Saint-Tropez, while Australia is hunting its first event win of the season.