Published: Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The victory of the ‘substitute race’, which was sailed on Friday June 10, and scored it as Race One of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago, went to SoftBank Team Japan.

Softbank Team Japan Claims First Win In Americas Cup Chicago 3

(Photos: Ricardo Pinto / ACEA2016- SoftBank Team Japan)

In New York, the team won the substitute race, but it was never used. But in Chicago, with winds too light and unstable to start on time, the substitute race was inserted in the broadcast and scored as an official race. It was the first win of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series for SoftBank Team Japan

“It’s a shame we couldn't get racing started on time today, but it's nice to turn the good work from Friday into a win on the scoreboard today,” says Skipper Dean Barker. "We've been working hard to improve our performance. Friday was a good day and we take a lot of confidence from that.” 

Softbank Team Japan Claims First Win In Americas Cup Chicago 1

(Navy Pier)

Artemis Racing scored second place and Groupama Team France was third.

As Saturday June 11, afternoon progressed under steamy, sunny conditions, and with the sea breeze taking its time to settle in but picking up, race officials and teams extended the race window beyond the initial 3:00pm deadline and were eventually able to get one late afternoon race completed for the fans on Navy Pier.

Emirates Team New Zealand was the top team on Saturday, finishing ahead of Oracle Team USA and Artemis Racing.

In race two, the first of Super Sunday’s action on the water, Land Rover BAR took the honours after a very strong start, putting more air between them and the pack at the first mark and then leading from the front throughout the rest of the race.

Softbank Team Japan Claims First Win In Americas Cup Chicago 5

Race three started with Groupama Team France first across the start line, but Artemis Racing continued their strong weekend form and grabbed the lead early and, despite pressure from Oracle Team USA right to the end, crossed the finish line first for the second time over the Chicago weekend. The second place finish would be a high point for the home team.

Race four, the last competitive action of the weekend, began with five of the six teams crossing the start line together, but after a slew of penalties were handed out to a number of boats after the first mark, it was SoftBank Team Japan who were in clear air and would lead the pack though to the finish, recording their second race win of the weekend. 

“I’m absolutely thrilled with the performance of our team here,” says SoftBank Team Japan Skipper Dean Barker. “We had some fantastic results on the practice day and today, and even though we were a little bit disappointed with our starts in the first two races, the guys did a great job battling back to win the last race, and we’re just all really happy. It’s a great boost for our team and it’s really good to see that all the hard work we are doing is paying off, especially in front of such a great crowd.”

Softbank Team Japan Claims First Win In Americas Cup Chicago 2

(Event Champion Artemis Racing)

Over 200,000 fans were on Navy Pier over the course of the three-day event, including close to 40,000 through a sold-out race village. On the water, the race course was tightly surrounded by a spectator fleet pushing 1,000 boats. 

The final regatta podium had SoftBank Team Japan in third and Land Rover BAR in second place, but it is Artemis Racing who left the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago as event champions, an historic title as the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series winners on fresh water. 

“To be honest I’m a bit relieved!” says Outteridge. “We finally had a very good day of weather and our team rose to the occasion. We recorded nothing worse than a fourth all week, and we said at the start of the week that finishing top three in every race would be good enough to win, and we did just that.

“As a team we are happy with second place” says Land Rover BAR Skipper Ben Ainslie. “We would have liked to have the win, but Artemis Racing sailed very well today. Despite that, it was great to be able to showcase what this sport is all about, in a venue like this and with the sort of conditions we had today here at Navy Pier. It really was an amazing day for the whole sport, and I’m delighted with how well this weekend has gone overall.” 

Emirates Team New Zealand retains its position at the top of the overall Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series ahead of Land Rover BAR and Oracle Team USA.

“It was sensational racing today and to come away with our overall lead still intact is fantastic,” said Skipper Glenn Ashby. “What we take out of this weekend is what a fantastic regatta this has been. I don’t know exactly how many people were out there watching us, but I am sure they will all have had a really good show.”

“It was unreal here,” says Oracle Team USA Skipper Jimmy Spithill. Let’s hope this becomes a regular stop on the series. The race course is awesome. All weekend we saw the huge crowds and we all had great support. I hope we’re coming back.”

Softbank Team Japan Claims First Win In Americas Cup Chicago 4

“This weekend has been good for the sport,” Groupama Team France Skipper Franck Cammas says. “The venue was great. Today we had really good winds and big crowds and we have been made very welcome in Chicago. We have all enjoyed this event, but now we must look ahead to Portsmouth and improving our performance there.”

Next up it is back to the UK for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth on July 23-24.

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago leaderboard

Artemis Racing – 9, 18, 20, 14 - 61

Land Rover BAR – 6, 20, 14, 18 - 58

SoftBank Team Japan – 10, 16, 10, 20 – 56 

Emirates Team New Zealand – 7, 12, 16, 16 - 53

Oracle Team USA – 5, 14, 18, 12 - 49 

Groupama Team France – 8, 10, 12, 10 – 40

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series – Overall leaderboard

Emirates Team New Zealand – 295 

Land Rover BAR – 285 

Oracle Team USA – 285 

Artemis Racing – 262 

SoftBank Team Japan – 259

Groupama Team France – 234