Ben Ainslie and Landrover BAR off to strong start in America’s Cup World Series

British sailor Ben Ainslie and his Landrover BAR team are overall leaders of the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series at Portsmouth after dominating the opening two races.
Skipper Sir Ben Ainslie, second left, of LandRover BAR heads to the start for the first day of official racing in the Americas Cup World Series. Time Ireland / AP Photo
Skipper Sir Ben Ainslie, second left, of LandRover BAR heads to the start for the first day of official racing in the Americas Cup World Series. Time Ireland / AP Photo

British sailor Ben Ainslie started out as favourite to win the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series at Portsmouth and at the end of the first day of racing on Saturday, he and his Landrover BAR team were overall leaders after dominating the opening two races.

Racing in front of one of the largest spectator crowds Portsmouth has ever seen, Ainslie lined up against the five other teams including America’s Cup holders Oracle Team USA and took around 15 minutes of the opening race to stamp his mark on the fleet.

It was the Pete Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand who posed the biggest threat to Ainslie and it was only on the fourth leg in the first race that the British boat shrugged off the challenge from the Kiwis and then another from the Americans and took the lead, holding it to the end.

The breeze was rarely strong enough for the foiling AC45 catamarans to get up enough speed to lift out of the water and skim across the surface, but they still reached boat speeds in excess of 15 knots downwind, to the excitement of crowds lining the shore just 100 metres from the action.

In the second of the two 30 minute races, the British boat made an aggressive start but while Groupama’s Franck Cammas and Oracle’s Jimmy Spithill became embroiled in a shouting match over an infringement on the start line, the Kiwis once again gained a foothold and seized the advantage, managing to maintain their position to the finish and winning by 20 seconds .

By the end of the two races, Ainslie had the overall lead with a one point advantage over Emirates Team New Zealand with two races scheduled for Sunday.

It was the perfect start for Britain’s most successful sailor who launched his campaign for the America’s Cup in 2017 last year and over the course of his Olympic career, winning four gold medals and a silver, has become a household name in Britain.

Even though the America’s Cup was first staged in the Solent in 1851, when a race around the Isle of Wight was won by a boat called America, Britain has never won it despite 23 challenges and Ainslie’s £100 million Landrover BAR campaign was formed to change the course of history.

Emirates Team New Zealand were lying in second place overnight with Oracle team USA in third.

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Published: July 25, 2015 04:00 AM

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