While Oracle Team USA did all but everything they could to take the win with a 2, 1, 1 scorecard today, it wasn’t enough to topple the fast and furious tenacity of a Ben Ainslie led Land Rover BAR on the final day of racing at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth.
“We really want to try and do you proud” said Sir Ben Ainslie to the crowd before racing, and his team didn’t stop fighting to do just that, even taking the overall America’s Cup World Series lead at the conclusion of racing.
The head to head between Jimmy Spithill and Ben Ainslie that had so much media hype prior to the regatta was exactly what eventuated silencing the crowd during the final race of the series, when the defenders threatened to bring Sir Ben Ainslie’s fairy tale week to an end. This was a stark contrast to the roar that could clearly be heard from the water whenever the home team was in an advantageous position. For basically the final lap, the thousands of spectators seemed to collectively hold their breath, leading to event host Tucker Thompson on the shore commenting to the audience “I think someone just dropped a pin”.
“For us to be able to perform in front of a crowd like that means a huge amount, I mean you can see how emotional the guys were at the finish line. It meant so much to them… With the ultimate goal being to bring the Cup back here” said Ainslie.
You can see more of the team’s reactions in the video below, clearly there was as much tension to be released on board as on the shore during the day of racing.
On the weather, “perfect; couldn’t have asked for better” said Ray Davies, tactician on board Emirates Team New Zealand before racing. Despite the perfect weather, the Kiwi’s were relegated to fourth overall, and dropped to third on the overall leader board. That said, Glenn Ashby was happy with the team’s performance, given they were down key crew members including Pete Burling and Blair Tuke who are preparing for the Rio Olympics at present. “You need back up, you need cover, you need a second team… so sharing that depth across our group of guys is really important” said Ashby of the virtual “up-skilling” of Emirates Team New Zealand this weekend.
Even though Oracle Team USA had a higher average speed, and “fly time” (time spent on the foils) today, coming into the finish line of the final race is first was bittersweet, knowing there weren’t any other “teams to step up” as Spithill said and get in between themselves and the local team, even though “Tommy [Slingsby] did a great job of just slamming them [BAR] upwind”.
Winning team Land Rover BAR and second placed defenders Oracle Team USA were definitely a cut above the rest today, as can be seen reflected in the regatta results, but now also the overall series results. Oracle is the only boat in the top three overall yet to win a regatta, yet, is still placed second. Will this consistency pay off in the end? We will see as the other teams are striving with a fast and furious pace to in the words of home town hero “we have a lot of work to do, as all the other teams do over the next ten months in a really critical design phase”.
Regardless a big congratulations to Land Rover BAR on their win, and Sir Ben Ainslie for a “fast and furiously” fantastic week in his life that he will no doubt never forget.
There is plenty more in the video below, including on water replay action, and interviews with podium skippers Sir Ben Ainslie, James Spithill, Dean Barker and Glenn Ashby.
Enjoy and thanks to Sportography.Tv for the images, and News2Use for the video overlay.