Blown off in Portsmouth

Solent buffeted by 30+ knot winds on day two of the America's Cup World Series

Sunday July 26th 2015, Author: Peter Rusch, Location: United Kingdom

Extreme winds forced the cancellation on what was to have been the second and final day of racing at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth on Sunday, but didn’t dampen enthusiasm for a Royal visit from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

With no racing the results from Saturday stand, meaning Land Rover BAR is the winner of the first event of the 35th America’s Cup cycle.

Ainslie and his team were congratulated on their win at the official prizegiving by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were on site all day today and met with all of the teams, presenting the awards for the regatta. Michael Burke, the CEO of Louis Vuitton, was on hand to present each of the skippers with a gift.

“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,” said Ben Ainslie, skipper of Land Rover BAR.

“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 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.”

Emirates Team New Zealand claimed second place with rookie Peter Burling on the helm at his first America’s Cup regatta.

"For a 24 year old, what a great opportunity for him to come through as a young guy. His skill level is really, really, high. This fast-paced, quick action, quick decision making really suits him,” said Glenn Ashby, who is nominally designated 'skipper' for the Kiwi crew.

Oracle Team USA completed the podium.

“The racing was great. We had some good sailing out there. Lots of lead changes, six competitive teams, the level is really, really high,” said Oracle Team USA skipper, Jimmy Spithill. “We’re disappointed we couldn’t get out there again today.”

Fourth place went to Groupama Team France whose skipper, Franck Cammas, was philosophical about not being able to race. “The sailing world depends on wind: Too much, not enough, there is no race. It’s normal for us as sailors. Today was clearly too windy to race without a big risk. It was the right decision.

“But I’m happy about what happened here. There were so many people watching and it was well organized for the first event on the circuit. I’m very confident for the future as we look ahead.

“It was great to be able to race against the others,” Cammas continued. “At home, we train alone and when you sail alone you are always the world champion! So we found the level here is very high. Not a surprise, but good to see, and very motivating for us to improve.”

Dean Barker’s new SoftBank Team Japan squad finished on equal points with the French, but fell to fifth place in the tie-breaker.

“We wanted to get into it again today, but it would have been impossible to race in these conditions,” Barker said. 

“The foiling AC45 race boats are great. But for us, we know we have a lot of work to do. This is just the first step in a long two-year program.

Gothenburg next month will be a great opportunity to get back out there and get into the racing. That will have different challenges in terms of the race course, so more to adapt to there as well. We’re excited we get to race again in a month’s time.”

The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Gothenburg from 28-30 August is the home event for Artemis Racing. The Swedish challenger will be looking to improve on a last place finish here in Portsmouth: “We’re excited to get there and see the support for Artemis Racing. We’ve had great enthusiasm for the team at home in Sweden over the last couple of years and we’re really looking forward to racing there,” said skipper Nathan Outteridge.

Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Portsmouth Results:

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

Our comments:

This was a very sad conclusion to what has been one of the most hyped sailing events of all time. Saturday was truly one of the 'greatest sailing events' we have been to, ticking all the boxes for everyone from sailing fans to the mildly interested to those with no knowledge of the sport at all. In this respect it was very well conceived, attempting to extend the reach of our sport, at a time when with one of the most promising British America's Cup challengers in Land Rover BAR sailing needs all the support it can get from the British general public.

Looking back at today sailors will shake their heads and declare that this is one of the unfortunate consequences of a sport that is entirely dependent on Mother Nature. However we were led to believe that AC45s, even foiling ones, were more versatile bits of kit, the paramount aim of the multihull, and ultimately the foil cat, being specifically to avoid embarrassing holes in the TV schedule. 

Were there not wing tips that could be removed especially for this eventuality? And if foiling was deemed too dangerous given the wave state, would it not be possible to revert to standard boards and sail the regatta in low rider mode? 

You might thing the wings to be an issue in big conditions, but in fact wings can be feathered in a much more effective and less destructive way than conventional sails flogging on a soft sail rig. 

As one astute observer pointed out - Formula 1 cars have three sets of wheels to cater for every eventuality weather-wise, surely AC45s, where one part of the design brief was for a boat that could race in pretty much any conditions, should have its range expanded? Which obviously leaves the question - what to do when there is no wind? 

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