Sunday, December 4, 2016

J/Sailors Leading America’s Cup!?

Ben Ainslie's America's Cup AC45 Land Rover BAR team winners (Hamilton, Bermuda)- What do Ben Ainslie and Jimmie Spithill have in common?  Both have sailed various J/Boats over time.  Ben has raced J/80s and J/109s in the United Kingdom on the Solent (off Cowes) as well as down in Plymouth.  Jimmie moved to San Diego, CA after the last America’s Cup in San Francisco to settle down with his wife and friends.  In that process, Jimmie bought Dennis Conner’s J/105 #3 and renamed it “17”, Jimmie’s lucky number for all his sailboats.

In Fukuoka, Japan, Land Rover BAR, the British challenge headed by Olympic legend Ben Ainslie– won the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series with a first place finish at the final event in Japan. Ainslie’s team sailed extremely well to secure the overall title with a race to spare.

ORACLE TEAM USA and skipper Jimmy Spithill pushed hard, finishing ahead of BAR in the first race of the day, but Ainslie was able to post a 4, 2, 3 scoreline, and into the overall series win.

“This has been a goal for us for the whole season and for this event,” said Ainslie. “The guys have done an incredible job,” Ainslie said from the water following the second race of the day. For us as a new team it sends out a strong message for all our supporters that we can do it.”

For the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Fukuoka, it came down to a tiebreak with Land Rover BAR clawing into a tie with Artemis Racing in the final contest, and taking the regatta by virtue of a better result in the last race.

However, with attention shifting to Bermuda and the America’s Cup racing next year, the focus was on the overall title and bonus points it confers.

By taking first place on the overall Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series leaderboard, Land Rover BAR has collected two bonus points to carry forward into next year’s Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers in Bermuda. With a second place finish on the overall leaderboard, ORACLE TEAM USA secured one bonus point for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers next year.

America's Cup AC45 foiling catamaransSir Ben commented on the weekend's racing, “It’s been an incredible day of racing and for our team, Land Rover BAR, to come out on top here in Fukuoka, Japan in the final race of the series, and to win the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, that was our goal and to achieve that is special for us. We are a completely new team, two and a half years ago we were a blank sheet back in Portsmouth in the UK and now, for our designers, our shore team and everyone back in the UK, it’s a real boost, so now we set our sights on Bermuda for the America’s Cup.

“Looking at this weekend, I think for all of us it’s what we love, when it gets aggressive. We had really good battles with Jimmy and with Emirates Team New Zealand and to go into that final race with the overall series sewn up, we were trying to get that bonus point off ORACLE TEAM USA and make life hard for them, but to their credit they did a good job of recovering.

“So, now we go ahead to next year. It is going to be neck and neck and I can see it being incredibly tight. I think the bonus points are going to be a factor next year. They’re 20% of the points on offer in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers so it’s definitely worth having them, but also, for a new organization like ours, we need to show that we can perform at the highest level, for our own team, or our partners and our supporters, to show them all that we have a team with the capability of winning the America’s Cup, and I think we’ve shown that.

“I think this series has showcased just how tight it’s going to be in Bermuda next year. The level of competition and the skillsets of the sailors have been phenomenal, and now we move into our own race boats, our own designs, and I think that’s going to be fascinating for all the fans to see.”  For more America’s Cup sailing information