With the next stage of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series just around the corner, we take a look back at some of the highlights from Portsmouth and look forward to Toulon…
Portsmouth was a spectacular event by all means, with the unpredictable British weather on its best behaviour and over 130,000 spectators who flocked to this historic naval city for the best view of the sailing action. There were some royal visitors too including HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Official Race day 1
The teams would have preferred more than the 7 knots of breeze, but still we saw some great racing. The first race of the day saw three teams incur penalties but Land Rover BAR and Groupama Team France got away well. Despite the fact their boat needed some maintenance the night before, the French sailors oozed confidence as they took the lead with ease. Groupama Team France won the race with a 1 minute 38 second gap to second place, Oracle Team USA.
Race 2 saw Land Rover BAR showed their knowledge on home waters to take the lead, flying past the fleet and managing to stay out of trouble at the second mark. Light winds and a strong current caused the other teams to struggle and fight for positions and the home fans were thrilled as they flew across the finish line, taking the race win.
Race 3 saw Land Rover BAR and Groupama Team France get away without penalties and by the second gate, the two boats were split only by SoftBank Team Japan. It was cat and mouse for a while between both teams but yet again Sir Ben Ainslie’s clever tactics saw Land Rover BAR take the win.
Official Race day 2 - Super Sunday
A big day with double points on offer and excellent foiling conditions on the water. Land Rover BAR started at the top of the first day leader board and their confidence saw them take the lead at the start of the Race 1. As the other teams flew down wind at 22 knots to catch them up, it quickly turned into a two boat duel but Land Rover BAR were victorious in crossing the finish line first as their lead was never fully challenged.
Race 2 proved testing but Oracle Team USA took the lead early on. We saw some great sailing from Emirates Team New Zealand and SoftBank Team Japan, but it was Land Rover BAR who managed to get a smoother run on the foils and started closing down Oracle Team USA. The Americans got the best out of the wind though and they took their first victory of the weekend.
The final race saw Oracle Team USA take the lead once again, with Land Rover BAR as a strong challenger and SoftBank Team Japan doing their best to close the gap. Although Oracle Team USA were first over the line, Land Rover BAR took the win of the weekend and also celebrated being top of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series leader board.
There has been a lot of buzz since the America's Cup World Series Portsmouth event. The 2016 Olympic Games saw a wealth of medals claimed by America’s Cup sailors. Gold medals went to Land Rover BAR’s Giles Scott and Emirates Team New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen of Artemis Racing took silver as did SoftBank Team Japan’s Jason Waterhouse. As the competitors return to their teams, bringing them back up to full strength once more, they will no doubt boost team moral and confidence too.
In the run up to Toulon, social media has been alive with videos, pictures and news of the sailors’ preparations. SoftBank Team Japan made the big announcement that they’d cracked the foiling tack earlier in the year whilst training in Bermuda. This manoeuvre, regarded as the “Holy Grail” of the America’s Cup, could be a real game changer for the team as it greatly reduces the time deficit incurred by slowing down to change tack. Soon after the announcement, Oracle Team USA claimed they’d also achieved the same success in training.
Staying up on the foils provides the sailors with a huge speed advantage and so Toulon will be an interesting battle ground for those who can perform this manoeuvre under racing conditions. The pressure is also on for Land Rover BAR – can they maintain their position at the top of the leader board or will Emirates Team New Zealand close the gap?