Land Rover BAR Wins LV America's Cup World Series
Published: Monday, 21 November 2016
Land Rover BAR – the British challenge headed by Olympic legend Ben Ainslie – has won the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series with a first place finish at the ultimate event in Japan Nov 19-20. SoftBank Team Japan finished in fifth overall. The team was sastified to hear loud roaring from Hakata Bay when it notched victory at Race 2 on the first day.
(Photos: ACEA 2016 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series champion Land Rover BAR)
SoftBank Team Japan was the undisputed crowd favourite on the shores of Hakata Bay on the final day of racing at Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Fukuoka despite a mixed day on the water.
Two disappointing finishes in the first pair of races set the team up for a thrilling comeback as it charged through the fleet to nab a second place behind Groupama Team France in the third and final race.
(SoftBank Team Japan)
“It’s been quite the experience to come to Fukuoka and race in front of our hometown fans,” says the smiling Skipper and CEO Dean Barker. “It’s well exceeded the expectations I had coming here. The number of people who have turned up and their support for the team has been great. It would’ve been nice to have a better overall finish but it keeps everyone hungry for preparing for next year.”
Bowman and General Manager Kazuhiko Sofuku fought through the media swarm post-racing to sign autographs for the crowd as well as greet several ex-Nippon Challenge teammates who were in attendance.
“This is fantastic,” says Sofuku. “I’ve enjoyed every minute. So many people have showed up and we’re overwhelmed with the support. I’m very happy.”
With the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series concluded, the team’s focus now returns completely towards the development of its America’s Cup Class yacht in Bermuda – the platform they’ll race in the 35th America’s Cup in June 2017.
(SoftBank Team Japan Bowman and General Manager Kazuhiko Sofuku)
The 50-foot catamaran recently arrived at the team’s base in Bermuda and has begun an extensive modification programme as the team transitions the systems and procedures learned already in its AC45 Sport test boat to the final race yacht.
That boat will ultimately decide the fate of the team going forward into the match races of the America’s Cup Qualifiers – the pathway to the America’s Cup finals.
Dean Barker was optimistic that the team’s development programme has benefited dramatically from the testing sessions held over the past year with Oracle Team USA and Artemis Racing.
“I think we’ve got a very good understanding of how the boats respond in different conditions,” says Barker. “Getting the chance to race alongside Artemis Racing and Oracle Team USA has been a huge advantage I think in a lot of ways. It’s going to be interesting once more teams turn up in Bermuda.”
The team travelled back to Bermuda and was back straight into sailing upon its return as precious days tick away during the final stages of testing its new yacht design.
Ben Ainslie's team sailed extremely well to secure the overall title with a race to spare. With the overall series win, Land Rover BAR earns two bonus points for the next stage of the America's Cup.
“It’s been an incredible day of racing and for our team Land Rover BAR ,to come out on top here in Fukuoka, Japan in the final race of the series, and to win the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, that was our goal and to achieve that is special for us,” says Ainslie. “We are a completely new team, two and a half years ago we were a blank sheet back in Portsmouth in the UK and now, for our designers, our shore team and everyone back in the UK, it’s a real boost, so now we set our sights on Bermuda for the America’s Cup.”
Oracle Team USA and Skipper Jimmy Spithill pushed hard, finishing ahead of BAR in the first race of the day, but Ainslie was able to sail with controlled aggression to a 4, 2, 3 scoreline, and into the overall series win.
“We wanted the points. We would have loved to have taken the two points, but one thing we weren't going to let happen was to have Emirates Team New Zealand take our point off us. So we ended up in a bit of match race with them at the end and the boys did a great job to keep them behind us,” says Oracle Team USA Skipper Jimmy Spithill.
For the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Fukuoka, it came down to a tie-break with Land Rover BAR clawing into a tie with Artemis Racing in the final contest, and taking the regatta by virtue of a better result in the last race.
But with attention shifting to Bermuda and the America's Cup racing next year, the focus was on the overall title and bonus points it confers.
By taking first place on the overall Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series leaderboard, Land Rover BAR has collected two bonus points to carry forward into next year's Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers in Bermuda.
With a second place finish on the overall leaderboard, Oracle Team USA secured one bonus point for the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers next year.
Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series - Overall Leaderboard:
1. Land Rover BAR -- 512
2. Oracle Team USA -- 493
3. Emirates Team New Zealand -- 485
4. Artemis Racing -- 466
5. SoftBank Team Japan -- 460
6. Groupama Team France -- 419