Land Rover BAR got their campaign for the 35th America’s Cup off to a great start
Sir Ben Ainslie and his crew claimed victory in the first event of the 35th America’s Cup cycle in Portsmouth over the weekend.
After the second day of racing was cancelled due to poor weather conditions, the prizes were decided on Saturday’s results, leaving Land Rover BAR as the winners.
The British team finished first and second in the two races on Saturday, seeing them secure their place at the top of the leader board.
Emirates Team New Zealand came in behind at a very close second, while Orace Team USA rounded out the podium in third place.
Fourth place went to Groupama Team France, fifth to Softbank Team Japan and Artemis Racing finished in sixth.
Despite the disappointment of no racing on Sunday, spirits weren’t dampened, as the World Series event was graced with the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Royal couple took part in a number of visits throughout the day, including a trip to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard and the 1851 Trust.
William and Kate also awarded Land Rover BAR with their trophy on Sunday afternoon at an awards ceremony hosted by TV presenter Davina McCall.
Speaking about the achievement, Ainslie said: “We’re absolutely delighted to win the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event here in Portsmouth. This is a great start for us in our America’s Cup journey.”
“With the conditions that we saw yesterday and the standard these teams are sailing at, it’s absolutely amazing racing and looks wonderful on TV. In my sailing career, I’ve never seen anything like it – the amount of people who came out on the water, on the shoreline, supporting the event, supporting us as the home team.
“It’s a real shame we couldn’t race today (Sunday) considering all the effort that’s gone into the event and the support we’ve had from the local fans here in Portsmouth. But that is the weather and we can’t control it.”
Rival and ex-team mate Jimmy Spithill said: “I think this just shows how great it is to have a British team back in the America’s Cup competition. There was some serious interest here – you look at the estimated spectator numbers on and off the water, it was as if the actual America’s Cup was being raced in terms of crowd size, it was really comparable. It’s just so cool to see a competitive team come from here and I know from past experiences that the Brits get behind their home sporting teams. These guys will be tough.”
The four-day event attracted huge spectators numbers to the event village, which included a free Waterfront Festival Arena packed with family attractions, and a Fanzone Arena with live stage appearances from sailing stars, plus a series of spectacular aerial displays from acrobatic stunt teams.
Event director Leslie Greenhalgh, said: “The event showcased what an increasable spectacle the America’s Cup can deliver to Portsmouth. We were delighted with the visitor figures and would like to thank everyone that attended and supported the event.
“Whether it was giving the sailors a huge welcome on Thursday, braving the rain on Friday or enjoying the perfect champagne sailing conditions yesterday – the spectator support made a huge difference.”