America’s Cup 2021: Ineos Team UK grinder Freddie Carr on initial regatta fears and the tactic behind their success

When the class rule for the AC75 was revealed, Ineos Team UK grinder David ‘Freddie’ Carr expected the worst.

The radical foiling design gave him flashbacks to the 2013 Cup in San Francisco in which, while it is remembered for Oracle Team USA’s incredible comeback against Team New Zealand, the Challengers Series was less than competitive.

There were key similarities between the two regattas; both would be contested in a new class of boats with only three syndicates on the starting line for the Challengers Series.

“I was just like ‘oh, we’re back in that same world; three Challengers in a new class of boat’,” Carr said.

However, unlike in 2013, the Challengers Series has been a competitive event in which every team has shown they have the boat speed and sailing talent on board to test their rivals.

“Two years ago I was thinking the speed differences could be huge here and the racing might not be great,” Carr said.

“I’m so glad I was wrong because what we’ve seen this weekend was the best America’s Cup racing I’ve seen probably since the version five stuff in 2007 where on any given day anyone could beat anyone. That’s what it feels like.”

While the crews have been competitive through the opening week of sailing, Ineos Team UK have four wins to their name from as many races and appear set to contest the final of the series against either Luna Rossa or American Magic.

Part of their success can be put down to the set up on their boat, in which they have strategically limited the number of grinders from eight to six in order to free up sailors in other areas of the boat.

After making the decision, the grinders implemented a training regime during a three-month lockdown in the UK and made the necessary fitness gains to allow them to operate with two less grinders.

“We try to put the power into the boat with six grinders. All the stuff below the water is powered by batteries … then everything above the hull is powered by the grinders. A lot of the teams we’ve seen grinding with seven or eight grinders, depending how involved their eighth guy is and we’re trotting along with six guys trying to free up the talent a little bit at the back of the boat.”

With six grinders, all on individual pedestals, tactician Giles Scott is able to roam at the back of the boat and focus solely on finding the best route around the course in the conditions, while they have deployed two flight controllers, with Luke Parkinson and Leigh McMillan each on one side of the boat, and Sir Ben Ainslie at the helm.

In the opening weekend, that set up paid immediate dividends.

“I think the biggest thing it does is it frees up Giles Scott,” Carr explained.

“As you’d have seen in the racing at the weekend, he kind of cruises around the back of the boat talking about the wind which is his talent and it paid dividends this weekend. I think all three teams are really similar in pace and on that Course C, Giles came into his own for us.”

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