Britain’s chances of winning the America’s Cup for the first time were given a boost at the weekend when Sir Ben Ainslie’s team topped the leaderboard with a victory on their home waters of Portsmouth.
Land Rover BAR started the weekend tied in second place with current America’s Cup defenders Oracle Team USA. Two days of action-packed racing on the Solent saw Ainslie’s team do the Portsmouth double and emerge as overall winners for a second time, following their victory in July 2015.
The result leaves them at the top of the America’s Cup World Series standings after seven rounds – one point ahead of their American rivals on the six-boat leaderboard, with Emirates Team New Zealand in third place.
How it works
The World Series is a racing circuit featuring the best sailors in the world, competing on foiling, one-design AC45 catamarans.
The series began in the summer of 2015 and marks the first stage of competition in the 2017 America’s Cup. The circuit is an early opportunity for all the America’s Cup teams to put points on the board that carry forward into the next stage of the competition.
Overall ranking position in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series determines the starting points score of the teams in the America’s Cup Qualifiers in 2017.
The America’s Cup was first held in 1851 in the Solent, off the coast of the Isle of Wight and is named after the inaugural winner.
Queen Victoria, who was watching a sailing race when the schooner, named America, passed the Royal Yacht in first position, and saluted by dipping its ensign three times. The Queen asked one of her attendants to tell her who was in second place. “Your Majesty, there is no second,” came the reply. That phrase sums up how the America’s Cup represents the singular pursuit of excellence.
Since the Cup left the British shores 165 years ago, it has never been won by a British challenger, something Ainslie’s team hope to remedy next year.
Among the hundreds of thousands of supporters that turned out to cheer the British team on were The Duchess of Cambridge – Royal Patron to the team’s official charity, the 1851 Trust, accompanied by The Duke of Cambridge.
The Royal couple visited the Land Rover BAR base and then viewed the racing on the water, before taking to the main stage to present the competing teams with the Victory Trophies, designed by Zak Kay, age 10, from Portsmouth and made by local artist Michelle Littlewood.
Zak said: ‘It was amazing meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, they were really nice. They asked me how I came up with the design of the trophy.’
Two days earlier Admiral of the Royal Yacht Squadron HRH The Duke of Edinburgh also visited the base to spend time with members of Land Rover BAR’s technical and engineering teams.
It was special week for Ainslie and his wife Georgie, who celebrated the birth of their first child, daughter Bellatrix, on Saturday 16 July.
He said: ‘It was the most amazing week of my life, no question. Or rather the most amazing eight days of my life – the period of time between my baby daughter Bellatrix being born, on Saturday July 16, and Land Rover BAR defending our Portsmouth title on Sunday.’
On stage in front of the cheering crowds, Ainslie said: ‘It is a great result in front of the home crowd. It’s amazing for Portsmouth to have these events [in 2015 and 2016].
‘The ultimate goal is to bring the America’s Cup back here. It’s going to be a great event in Bermuda next year and we’ll be giving it everything.’
The America’s Cup World Series action now moves on to Toulon France in September, Fukuoka, Japan in November before the final of the America’s Cup in Bermuda next year.
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