by Marina Thomas/SailCouture
Race organizers said they had worked on various contingency plans including moving the racing forward to try and avoid the bad weather forecast for later on Sunday. But with winds of more than 30mph, rough conditions on the Solent and torrential rain, ‘Super Sunday’ was cancelled and the Waterfront Festival Area evacuated due to health and safety reasons.
The results were decided from points won on ‘Big Saturday’, meaning home team Land Rover BAR, led by Britain’s Sir Ben Ainslie, lifted the trophy for the America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth following their win in the first race Saturday and second place in the following race.
Sir Ben said: “It’s been a massive team effort to get this far and get this result, from the designers to the guys on board with me and many more at our HQ. We are a new team so are very happy and it’s a great start for us on our America’s Cup journey, but I know we have a long way to go.
“I am very proud of my team. It was very emotional seeing all the crowds out watching Saturday, and it feels great to have won on home waters.”
Amongst the guests due to enjoy Super Sunday’s racing were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kate and William. They were given a tour of the team bases, and also presented the trophy to Sir Ben and the Land Rover BAR team.
The Duchess is the royal patron of the 1851 Trust, the charitable arm of the British challenger’s bid to bring the America’s Cup back to the UK. She also met local children who have been enjoying sailing with the Trust.
‘Big Saturday’ had seen crowds of more than 60,000 enjoy the action on the Solent, UK, the first time sailing’s most prestigious event had been held there since the event first started on the Solent in 1851. Union jack flags flew proudly from the windows of houses in Old Portsmouth, close to the new BAR HQ, and crowds roared as the teams passed close by on their way into port.
Saturday had seen glorious sunshine after torrential rain on Friday during the practice races too. The Waterfront Festival Area included a Moët & Chandon bar, a Guinness beer bar, fashion stands and food stands ranging from ostrich to British bangers and mash and strawberries and cream. Local shops were dressed in bunting and British flags were aplenty.
Fashion-wise the Duchess of Cambridge led with a sporty elegance, first arriving with Prince William dressed in Land Rover BAR Henri Lloyd Aura Half Zip Fleeces, personalized The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Personalization was an option open to everyone as Henri Lloyd was offering to personalize their team gear purchased at ACWS Portsmouth.
The Aura Half Zip features the America’s Cup Challenger, BAR, Henri Lloyd and 11th Hour logos and a Union Jack woven label. It immediately sold out online.
The Duchesses look was completed with a classic marinière, or Breton top, skinny jeans and Sebago’s Ladies Bala drivers. Later, for the prize giving, she switched out the pullover and drivers for two favorites, a Zara blazer and Stuart Weitzman Corkswoon Pumps.
Also stylish was a fan who sported a marinière top, anchor sweater and union jack – showing team spirit and looking good!
Saturday’s racing in 10-14 knots of breeze had all the expected drama for 60,000 spectators stood just metres away in the Fanzone Area on Southsea beach, cheering loudly for the Sir Ben and his home team. And at sea, 2,200 boats jostled for position by the race course in the busy Solent, one of the busiest waterways in the world with major shipping lanes near the racing.
The two races had place changes, near misses, problems with hoisting headsails and more. In Race 1 Emirates Team New Zealand took the early lead, but Land Rover BAR overhauled them on Leg 4 and extended away to take the win.
New French team Groupama, led by Franck Cammas, finished in fourth place overall but lost one place in Race 2 because of a mistake with the hoist. Franck said: “This is the best competition you can imagine because all the teams are very strong. So it’s nice because it’s always challenging for the crew, and we have to do our best all the time.
“The crowds were a good surprise, the British public is here and it’s good news because the America’s Cup has to become a big event even for those who aren’t fans of sailing. It was a very good show for everybody.”
Despite a win in one of the practice races, newcomers SoftBank Team Japan, led by New Zealand’s Dean Barker, formerly skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand, said they had a lot of work to do after finishing fifth.
“It was great to be out there with the guys and getting a feel for it all, as we are a pretty new team. We are up against some strong opposition and that certainly showed in our results,” said Barker. “We made a couple too many mistakes here which cost us a lot of places, but I’m very happy that we’ve managed to come here, have some good racing and we’ve got plenty to work on going forward.”
The six teams have been based in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, home to ships including Lord Nelson’s Victory, Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose and Warrior 1860. The contrast between old and new couldn’t be stronger.
And the original America’s Cup J-class yachts are also in the Solent area for the Royal Yacht Squadron International Bicentenary Regatta this week. During yesterday’s racing, the elegant Ranger came to watch the AC45Fs after her crew of 30+ dropped her sails nearby, with plenty of spectator boats coming to take a look at her sleek, classic lines.
The next America’s Cup World Series event is scheduled to take place in Gothenburg, Sweden, from August 27-30, and in Bermuda from October 16-18. Overall Results 1st Land Rover BAR 19, 2nd Emirates Team New Zealand 18, 3rd Oracle Team USA 16, 4th Groupama Team France 13, 5th SoftBank Team Japan 13, 6th Artemis Racing 11.
Marina is press officer for the Clipper Round the World Race and enjoys living out of a suitcase while traveling as much as possible. She also works as a freelance journalist and is a news addict, London and Sydney lover, trance music aficionado and sports and adventure nut. Her website: http://www.marinathomas.com/.