After so much promise in the fleet racing of Louis Vuitton Act 13, +39 Challenge really haven’t impressed during the Round Robins. The new Version 5 rig that was brought down by Germany during the fleet racing, broken into three pieces, was a massive setback for the team.
Every rig in the fleet is designed to twist for improved aerodynamics, and with the +39 rig patched up for the Round Robins, Iain Percy says it has lost that twisting ability, and the boatspeed is suffering accordingly.
However, today the team finally posted its first win from Round Robin Two, and against the giant killers on Shosholoza. It was all won on the start, with Iain Percy rolling off the line faster and directly ahead of the downspeed RSA 83. From there it was a calm and controlled covering job by Percy and tactician Ian Walker.
In other matches, the team’s lack of practice has really let them down. Today they sailed like a Semi Final candidate - although of course for +39 that horse bolted long ago.
Maybe Walker’s beard was the winning factor. After all, fellow Brit and Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie never shaves once an important regatta is underway, and it doesn’t seem to do him any harm.
Apparently Walker’s reasons for growing a beard are more out of a desire for anonymity, however. “I’m growing a beard so nobody recognises me,” said Walker this evening, embarrassed at +39’s lack of performance until today. “It’s not coming off yet, we’ve still got to beat Germany and China Team!”