High winds cancelled racing on the final day of the America's Cup World Series (ACWS) Portsmouth event - leaving Sir Ben Ainslie's team as the overall winners.
The second day of competition for the 35th America’s Cup had to be called off yesterday when a low pressure system swept across Britain, bringing gale force winds.
The loss of the final two races on ‘Super Sunday’ meant that the prizes were settled on Saturday’s results – leaving Land Rover BAR as winners.
Amongst many disappointed spectators were the royal couple, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Like hundreds of thousands of others, they had visited Portsmouth hoping to see the America’s Cup contenders go into battle.
Despite the lack of action on the water they still had a busy day, meeting the sailors from the different teams, and many of the people that had helped put on the event.
They also visited the new home of Land Rover BAR, to meet both team members and their families, meet with the 1851 Trust, of which The Duchess is Royal Patron and concluded the day by presenting the prizes in a ceremony at the Historic Dockyard.
Gusts of more than 37 knots were recorded at Southsea Common, and the Waterfront Festival and Fanzone Arenas had to be shut down for public safety.
Race organisers initially rescheduled the racing to a midday start, to try to beat the arrival of the worst of the weather. It wasn’t to be though, and as the wind howled and the rain beat down, organisers reluctantly abandoned their efforts to put on the show.
It wasn’t the end of the weather story though, as the teams struggled to get their boats out of the water. The process involves hoisting them on a crane, and the strong winds meant that the boats were swinging unpredictably taking many hands to bring them under control and safely to rest on the dock.
Skipper and Team Principal; Ben Ainslie: ‘I’m really proud of what the team has achieved this weekend, not just on the water but with our team here at the facility in Portsmouth. To win the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series of 2015 in front of our home crowd is massive for our team, and sets us up for a very exciting future.’
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Bowman and tactician; Giles Scott: ‘I think that as a crew we feel bad for all the people that turned up today. We’ve felt pretty confident sailing in a breeze, and we felt pretty good this morning – but it was too windy to go racing today, and it would have been a bit too much out there. So we just have to take that, a win is a win. Psychologically it’s important.
‘What we’ve managed to do all week is to make ourselves the team that everyone else is aiming at, racing these AC45Fs. So that felt good going into the regatta, and to get a good solid day yesterday with a one-two backed it up. To be consistent in those sort of conditions is always difficult, it was shifty, the wind was up and down – so to be able to pull that off was good.’
Wing trimmer; Paul ‘CJ’ Campbell-James: ‘My first feeling when I heard the news was that I was absolutely gutted. Today would have just been the most awesome day for the tv and the spectators and for us out there sailing it would have been really good fun.
‘I was also quite confident in our boat handling and preparation for big breeze, so there’s a little bit of disappointment in there, but the overwhelming thing is that it’s the first job done. There are many more steps to go, but we can only count this weekend as a success.’
Trimmer; Nick Hutton: ‘We’ve just had a pretty hard time getting the boat out of the water and dropping the wing, so it was clearly too windy to race today. But having said that, we’re pretty disappointed, we wanted to race, we’ve worked hard, and we wanted people to see that.
‘But we’ve got the win and I think we just want to say thank you to all the people that came out to watch in the rain, and we’re sorry we couldn’t put on a show today.’
Sailing Team Manager; Jono Macbeth: ‘I think it just goes to show that you need to go out there every day and race your hardest. The boys did a fantastic job yesterday, they got the boat round the track and they did what was required.
‘We were hoping for another day like yesterday, but that wasn’t to be, conditions out there were past top end, and not suitable for sailing. Onward and upwards, we have Gothenburg and Bermuda coming up, we’re going to have a fantastic series and I think there’s a lot of excitement to come in the future.’
PBO at the ACWS Portsmouth
PBO deputy editor Ben Meakins was among the estimated 45,000 spectators who turned out to watch the racing on ‘Big Saturday’.
He reports: ‘We sailed to Gosport, put the boat in Royal Clarence Marina and got the Gosport ferry to the festival site. The atmosphere was great, unlike any sailing event I’ve ever been to, and far bigger than the Olympics.
‘We watched Saturday’s action on the big screens in the free ‘waterfront festival’ site, having got there too late to get a good spot to watch the racing on the shoreline. A great day out, with a good-humoured atmosphere – and great to see so many people interested in a sailing event!’
1. Land Rover BAR – 19 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand – 18 points
3. ORACLE TEAM USA – 16 points
4. Groupama Team France – 13 points
5. SoftBank Team Japan – 13 points
6. Artemis Racing – 11 points