The six teams taking part begin their campaign to win the 35th America’s Cup off Portsmouth this weekend
The six America’s Cup skippers set to go head-to-head this weekend have been sharing their thoughts on the upcoming races.
During a press conference in the Fanzone Arena at the World Series in Portsmouth, they discussed rivalries and the competition as they prepare to battle it out on the Solent on Saturday and Sunday.
Thursday was the first time Land Rover BAR, Oracle Team USA, Artemis Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand, Softbank Team Japan and Groupama Team France sailed together aboard their AC45s.
As well as trying to familiarise themselves with the racecourse, the teams were also trying to suss out each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Speaking ahead of the races, Sir Ben Ainslie said: “This particular race course none of us have sailed before because they had to close the channel for us to get on there so we haven’t been able to race on this course either. We’ve been actually sailing further up towards Hill Head but I think it’s a fantastic racecourse.
“It’s so good for us to be in front of a home crowd and the predictions of the number people coming down, it’s a very, very special moment. There’s inevitably a lot of expectation and we’ve just got to deal with that and get on with the racing. Our preparation has been really good which is key, if you’ve got that bit right then you’ve just got to get out and get on with the racing.”
Meanwhile Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill looked confident going into the event, saying: “It’s been a steep learning curve, it’s a brand new boat for us but it’s been fantastic and we’ve really enjoyed our time here. Very, very physical, very aggressive on the water and if there’s wind we will see some serious action.
“This is the first event of the World Series, we all want to post a good result and get the campaign off to a good run, I think you’ll see guys pushing incredibly hard because of that.”
Speaking about Ainslie’s home advantage, Spithill said: “This is his home event, he really wants to win this and I can tell you we’d love nothing more than to upset that and spoil the party.”
Meanwhile Emirates Team New Zealand’s Glenn Ashby said: “We had really good opportunity after the Parade of Sail today to get out and actually have a look at the course area and see what the tide and the current was doing and line up with a few other boats, which was great.”
When asked about what it’ll take to win, Nathan Outteridge from Artemis Racing said: “You’re going to have to sail pretty high risk I think. I also think you’re going to have to win the starts. If you just be concerted and consistent you’re going to be in the middle.
“Once you get off the line and round mark one and you’re doing 35 knots down wind, it’s pretty hard for anyone to catch you. We’ve just been working on our starting the last few days and our jibing. We’re looking forward to seeing how our training is going to pay off in the racing.”
Softbank Team Japan’s Dean Barker was in agreement, saying: “It’s going to be able to execute the start and get to mark one in good shape. If you can do that consistently well over the four races then you’ll come away with a good result.
“It’s very, very hard to find the areas to pass. Yes, there are opportunities around the course but you’re way better offer if you’re controlling your destiny rather than trying to wait for the opportunities.”
The teams will be taking part in practice races throughout Friday before the real thing kicks off on Saturday.