British Land Rover BAR Triumphs At America’s Cup Portsmouth
Published: Monday, 25 July 2016
Land Rover BAR, skippered by British sailor Ben Ainsile, ruled the water and claimed the overall regatta victory at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth event July 21-24. Behind the Britons are ORACLE TEAM USA and Softbank Team Japan.
(Photos: Ricardo Pinto, Sam Greenfield / ACEA, Sander van der Borch / Artemis Racing - Land Rover BAR)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were on hand to present the awards to make a fitting end to an weekend of action for the British fans in Portsmouth. The royal couple took to the main stage to present the competing teams with the Victory Trophies, designed by 10-year-old Zak Kay from Portsmouth and made by local artist Michelle Littlewood.
“I think it’s been a brilliant weekend,” says Ainslie. “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.
(Land Rover BAR and Duchess of Cambridge)
“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.”
The winds on Sunday presented the teams with perfect conditions for the AC45F boats to foil, wowing 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 a 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 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, finally winning the regatta by a single point from ORACLE TEAM USA 82 to 81.
(Softbank Team Japan)
"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,” says ORACLE TEAM USA Skipper Jimmy Spithill. “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.
Behind the US and Brits was Softbank Team Japan in third, Emirates Team New Zealand in fourth, Groupama Team France in fifth and Artemis Racing sixth.
“We felt we had a good event here,” says Softbank Team Japan CEO and Skipper Dean Barker. “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.
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.
The America's Cup World Series action will move on to Toulon France in September, Fukuoka, Japan in November before the final of the America's Cup in Bermuda next year.