Win-Win for Brits at America’s Cup World Series
Published on July 24th, 2016
Portsmouth, UK (July 24, 2016) – It really was Super Sunday for Ben Ainslie and Land Rover BAR whose second place in the last of Sunday’s three races gave them the overall regatta win at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth event on July 22-24.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were on hand to present the awards and it was a fitting end to an amazing weekend of action for the British fans in Portsmouth.
“I think it’s been a brilliant weekend,” said Sir Ben Ainslie, the skipper of Land Rover BAR. “For us to race in Portsmouth, in front of our home crowd with the weather playing its part and two cracking days of racing, as a home team to win in front of our home crowd is the best thing we could do.”
The winds on Sunday presented the teams with perfect conditions for the AC45F boats to foil, wowing the tens of thousands of people along the Portsmouth shoreline who had come out to cheer on their favourite teams. The loudest cheers were for Land Rover BAR and it was the British team who took the early lead in race one.
ORACLE TEAM USA led the chasing pack but the crew on board Land Rover BAR had their feet on the gas and kept building an ever bigger lead, using home water knowledge and the cheers of the crowd to help power them to victory in race one, an ominous sign for the rest of the America’s Cup fleet. Behind them, ORACLE TEAM USA were second, Emirates Team New Zealand third, Softbank Team Japan fourth, Artemis Racing fifth and Groupama Team France sixth.
At the start of race two it was ORACLE TEAM USA who seized the early advantage, leading Softbank Team Japan and Land Rover BAR at the first mark. Jimmy Spithill’s US crew were right on top of their game and increased their lead throughout the race, but behind them Emirates Team New Zealand, Land Rover BAR and Softbank Team Japan were engaged in an almighty scrap for second with Artemis Racing and Groupama Team France in fifth and sixth respectively. It was Land Rover BAR in second, Softbank Team Japan in third, Emirates Team New Zealand in fourth, Sweden’s Artemis Racing in fifth and Groupama Team France again in sixth.
Victory for ORACLE TEAM USA set up the final race as a nail-biting conclusion to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth as Land Rover BAR only needed to finish ahead of ORACLE TEAM USA to win the overall regatta honours, and to take top spot in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series standings.
The clock ticked down to the crucial start of race three and it was ORACLE TEAM USA who took the lead off the starting line, just ahead of the British team and the Kiwis on board Emirates Team New Zealand who were watching their overall series lead disappear ahead of them.
The tension was palpable as the British and US teams made their way back down the course, but just after the midway point of the race ORACLE TEAM USA started to edge further away, leaving Ben Ainslie and Land Rover BAR to defend their second place from Emirates Team New Zealand. That second place was all the British team needed to secure overall victory in the regatta and it was never really in doubt.
With two events remaining, the win also put the British team into first place on the overall Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series leaderboard, overtaking Emirates Team New Zealand who drop to third with ORACLE TEAM USA in second, Softbank Team Japan in fourth, Artemis Racing fifth and Groupama Team France in sixth.
1. Land Rover BAR, 5-1-1-1-2-2, 82
2. ORACLE TEAM USA, 2-2-6-2-1-1, 81
3. SoftBank Team Japan, 4-3-3-4-3-3, 69
4. Emirates Team New Zealand, 3-6-4-3-5-4, 20
5. Groupama Team France, 1-4-2-6-6-5, 58
6. Artemis Racing, 5-5-5-5-4-6, 53
Video by Nic Douglass:
Photos: © BMW | CARLO BORLENGHI:
Selected quotes from sailors competing on Super Sunday:
Sir Ben Ainslie, Skipper, Land Rover BAR: “I think it’s been a brilliant weekend. For us to race in Portsmouth, in front of our home crowd with the weather playing its part and two cracking days of racing, as a home team to win in front of our home crowd is the best thing we could do. That was our goal for here, and with our long-term aim of bringing the Cup home, this weekend was just the start of it.
“The reaction from the crowd was amazing and it’s like they now really appreciate what it would mean to bring the America’s Cup back home. Last year at this event we missed the Sunday due to bad weather and this year the weather has been fantastic. The teams have all really upped their game in terms of how they are sailing these boats and today you saw some incredible, really close racing. Now we’re up at the top of the leaderboard, but we have a lot of work to do before Bermuda next year, but we’re performing well and our goal is to bring the Cup home. It may take us a while but when we do, it will be the most amazing event right here in Portsmouth.
“In the last race today we were very aware of the fact we only had to finish within one place of ORACLE TEAM USA to win the regatta, so that was what we were focused on. They were making it as hard as possible, pushing us back into the pack when they could, but to win today is just great, for us and for the 100 or so other people back at the base who are working so hard for our team. It was also great to have the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge here. The Duchess is Patron of our 1851 trust and it means a lot to have them here. We are very proud of our British heritage and to have them here is very special. Finally, I want to thank the fans for coming out in such great numbers and for cheering us on. It has been a great weekend all round.”
Jimmy Spithill, Skipper, ORACLE TEAM USA: “It was a good Sunday, we won the day, but it just wasn’t enough to win outright. In the end it came down to consistency. On Saturday BAR had a fifth and we had a sixth and that’s the one point that would have made the difference, but it was still great racing. The guys did a good job of fighting all the way through to the end. In the last two races today, we hit Ben every time we could, but we just couldn’t push him back far enough to let a third boat through. Despite that, the guys should hold their heads up. We sailed very, very well today but we have to take our hats off to Ben and congratulate his team.
“The event overall was awesome. I think it’s one of the best Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series events. We had huge crowds and today was as good as it gets in terms of race conditions. We had a fantastic time and it was really great to see all the fans, especially the young kids, coming out and supporting all of the teams.
“Last but not least, this is probably the only time I’ve been to the UK and it hasn’t rained, so overall, a pretty good weekend!”
Dean Barker, CEO and Skipper, Softbank Team Japan: “We felt we had a good event here. We had another podium and I think for our team, it’s about building momentum and developing. It’s been a year since we came here and finished fifth, so we’re very happy with the result. We didn’t sail at our best, but I’m satisfied with the result.
“We saw with BAR and ORACLE TEAM USA that those two teams are quite dominant. We have to fine-tune our boat handling and communication and close the gap but this is a development process for us. We have less than 12 months until the America’s Cup in Bermuda so we will just keep improving and getting better, it really is as simple as that.”
Glenn Ashby, Skipper, Emirates Team New Zealand: “That was a learning weekend for us. We had people in four new roles and really only one guy in his original position, so we just had to learn as much as we could. We managed to get the boat around the track reasonably well and, with the amount of training we did before, the guys did a fantastic job.
“We did cough up a couple of points to the Oracle boys and BAR but with the amount of effort and training they’ve put in, they deserve the points at this regatta. They sailed extremely well, but now the pressure is off us and on them as leaders. We will fight hard for those couple of points separating us at the next regatta in France as the points are so valuable in Bermuda next year, but really, for us, like I think every team, our main priority is the test boat and what will happen next year. If you’re not fast in Bermuda it won’t matter what happened in this regatta.”
Franck Cammas, Skipper, Groupama Team France: “It was very different for us today compared to Saturday. Yesterday in the light winds, the boats weren’t foiling, so it’s a very different technique and we need to improve in the foiling conditions.
“Today we had poor starts compared to yesterday and once you are behind, it is a totally different race. The starts were not good at all today and that makes such a big difference.
“However, it’s very important to have these kinds of days so we can learn in all the conditions. We need more hours on the water in these conditions in these boats, but for us, over the next month we will spend more time in our new boat in the water and work on all of our communication and technique. That will be put into action in France and we are excited about the next race being in our home.”
Ian Percy, Tactician, Artemis Racing: “First I want to say that this weekend has been an amazing event for British sailing. In the 70s and 80s sailing became one of the biggest sports in the UK and now there is a lot of interest in our sport. With that in mind it was no surprise to me that there were thousands of people here this weekend. It bodes well for our sport that both here and in Chicago there were so many people coming out to see our sport and that’s very good news for where we are going.
“However, for us it was a tough weekend on the water. It was Francesco’s first time driving these boats and with the rules in place we can’t do any practice so if you can imagine someone driving a Formula 1 car for the first time, it’s pretty clear that Lewis Hamilton would be quite far ahead. You need time to get used to these boats and we’re not allowed time, so it’s tough. I think frustration is the best way to sum up how this weekend has been. I don’t blame anyone, it’s the way the series is set, it doesn’t help us bringing in a new Helmsman, but that’s how it is.
“The way the conditions were also didn’t help. Every day was a bit different and that means what you learn one day is then not so relevant the next. However despite all that this event was a success, and that’s what is important. The series gives us a chance to showcase what a fantastic sport this is and this event did just that. Hopefully it will turn on more fans as we head to Bermuda in 2017, and, really, our focus is on the boat we will be racing there next year. But next up it’s France and we’ll have Nathan back there and he obviously knows these boats well so it will be a different picture there. Hopefully it won’t be first, last, first, last as it seems we have a bit of a pattern going like that, but with Nathan back hopefully that will end.”
Source: America’s Cup
Background: The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) racing circuit forms part of the 35th America’s Cup programme, with ACWS scoring contributing to the selection of the 2017 America’s Cup Challenger. The ACWS will feature fleet racing in one design foiling AC45 catamarans.
July 25-26: Portsmouth, UK
August 29-30: Gothenberg, Sweden
October 17-18: Bermuda
February 27-28: Muscat, Oman
May 7-8: New York, USA
June 11-12: Chicago, USA
July 23-24: Portsmouth, UK
September 10-11: Toulon, France
November 19-20: Fukuoka, Japan
Using a format of fleet racing in foiling, wing-sailed 45ft catamarans, the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) winner will be the team with the most points accumulated from all the ACWS events.
In 2017, the six teams (5 challengers and 1 defender) will compete in the new 15-meter AC Class, beginning with the America’s Cup Qualifiers, a double round robin match racing series which will reduce the five challengers to the top four teams. In this series, the winner of the America’s Cup World Series starts the America’s Cup Qualifiers with a 2 point advantage (runner-up in ACWS begins with 1 point advantage).
At the conclusion of the America’s Cup Qualifiers, only the four challengers with the most points (each match win earns 1 point) advance to the final stage to determine the challenger which will face the defender in the 35th America’s Cup. Complete schedule.