Photos: Ricardo Pinto / ACEA

Artemis Racing strikes back

Wind fills in for second and final days of the America's Cup World Series 2016 Chicago

Sunday June 12th 2016, Author: Peter Rusch, Location: United States

Perfect winds, cooler temperatures and a record breaking crowd of over 200,000 America’s Cup fans lining Chicago’s Navy Pier, combined to make Super Sunday, the final day of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago, an incredible finale for foiling action in the USA.

In front of sold-out grandstands, the six America’s Cup teams fought fiercely for the double points on offer for each of Sunday’s three races.

In race two, the first of Sunday’s action on the water, Land Rover BAR took the honors after a very strong start, putting more air between them and the pack at the first mark and then leading from the front throughout the rest of the race.

Race three started with Groupama Team France first across the start line, but Artemis Racing continued their strong weekend form and grabbed the lead early and, despite pressure from Oracle Team USA right to the end, crossed the finish line first for the second time over the Chicago weekend. The second place finish would be a high point for the home team.

Race four, the last competitive action of the weekend, began with five of the six teams crossing the start line together, but after a slew of penalties were handed out to a number of boats after the first mark, it was SoftBank Team Japan who were in clear air and would lead the pack though to the finish, recording their second race win of the weekend.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with the performance of our team here,” said SoftBank Team Japan skipper Dean Barker. “We had some fantastic results on the practice day and today, and even though we were a little bit disappointed with our starts in the first two races, the guys did a great job battling back to win the last race, and we’re just all really happy. It’s a great boost for our team and it’s really good to see that all the hard work we are doing is paying off, especially in front of such a great crowd.”

It was a day of incredible action for the crowds who came out in force all weekend to see the first America’s Cup racing on Lake Michigan. Over 200,000 fans were on Navy Pier over the course of the three day event, including close to 40,000 through a sold-out race village. On the water, the race course was tightly surrounded by a spectator fleet pushing 1,000 boats.

The final regatta podium had SoftBank Team Japan in third and Land Rover BAR in second place, but it is Artemis Racing who leave the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago as event champions, an historic title as the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series winners on fresh water.

“To be honest I’m a bit relieved!” said Artemis Racing skipper Nathan Outteridge. “We finally had a very good day of weather and our team rose to the occasion. We recorded nothing worse than a fourth all week, and we said at the start of the week that finishing top three in every race would be good enough to win, and we did just that.

“The champagne at the end tasted very sweet. I quite like champagne, especially the Moet that was given to us, and when you get to spray a huge bottle of Moet over all your teammates when you’ve won, that’s a very special feeling.”

Ben Ainslie, Skipper and Team Principal: "What can I say, today was brilliant racing, and it's great to showcase the sport this way, and show how good it can be. The guys onboard did an incredible job, in these conditions it's all about boat handling and the fitness required. I can't say enough about the boys and the great job they did today.

"The starts are harder than it looks, we've been practicing a lot as the starts are critical to this style of racing. We had two crackers, especially the last one which was really important.

"Now we're getting to the business end of the series, it's tight between ourselves, Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA. So we're all really excited about the next event in Portsmouth. To perform so well in front of a home crowd last year is what it's all about for us, so we can't wait for the event. Last year was just incredible, hopefully we can repeat, looking forward to brilliant conditions for Portsmouth."

Emirates Team New Zealand retains its position at the top of the overall Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series ahead of Land Rover BAR and Oracle Team USA.

“It was sensational racing today and to come away with our overall lead still intact is fantastic,” said skipper Glenn Ashby. What we take out of this weekend is what a fantastic regatta this has been. I don’t know exactly how many people were out there watching us, but I am sure they will all have had a really good show.”

ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill agreed. Despite being disappointed with a fifth place finish, he was pumped up by the response of the fans.

“It was unreal here,” he said. Let’s hope this becomes a regular stop on the series. The race course is awesome. All weekend we saw the huge crowds and we all had great support. I hope we’re coming back.”

Similar sentiments came from Groupama Team France skipper Franck Cammas, who struggled to stay with the leaders all weekend, but was quick to credit the support of the fans on Navy Pier.

“This weekend has been good for the sport,” Cammas said. “The venue was great. Today we had really good winds and big crowds and we have been made very welcome in Chicago. We have all enjoyed this event, but now we must look ahead to Portsmouth and improving our performance there.”

Next up it is back to the UK for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth on July 23-24.

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago leaderboard

1. Artemis Racing – 9, 18, 20, 14 - 61
2. Land Rover BAR – 6, 20, 14, 18 - 58
3. Oracle Team USA – 5, 14, 18, 12 - 56
4. SoftBank Team Japan – 10, 16, 10, 20 – 51
5. Emirates Team New Zealand – 7, 12, 16, 16 - 49
6. Groupama Team France – 8, 10, 12, 10 - 40

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series – Overall leaderboard

1. Emirates Team New Zealand – 295
2. Land Rover BAR – 285
3. Oracle Team USA – 285
4. Artemis Racing – 262
5. SoftBank Team Japan – 259
6. Groupama Team France – 234

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