PORTSMOUTH, England (LOG NEWS SERVICE) — Sir Ben Ainslie and his Land Rover BAR team are the winners of the first America’s Cup World Series event of the year.
Ainslie finished first and second on July 25 and was declared the winner based on his slim lead of one point over Emirates Team New Zealand (19-18) after the two races scheduled on July 26 were canceled because of gale-force winds.
Ainslie and his team were congratulated on their win and presented with the winning prize during the official prize giving ceremony by Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Duchess is a committed supporter of Ben Ainslie Racing and is also royal patron of the 1851 Trust, which works to inspire the next generation through sailing and the marine industry.
The royal couple was on site all day on July 26 and met with all of the teams.
“We’re absolutely delighted to win the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event here in Portsmouth. This is a great start for us in our America’s Cup journey,” said Ben Ainslie, skipper of Land Rover BAR.
Ainslie is the most-decorated sailor in Olympic history. He helped Oracle defend the America’s Cup in 2013.
Rounding out the field in Portsmouth on July 25 were Oracle Team USA (16 points), Groupama Team France (13), SoftBank Team Japan (13) and Artemis Racing of Sweden (11).
The weekend’s racing in the AC45F foiling catamarans was the start of a lengthy qualification process which will count towards the 2017 America’s Cup Challenger Series, the winner of which will take on cup holder Oracle Team USA in the 2017 America’s Cup.
It was estimated there were at least 48,000 people watching the races from the shore July 25 and another 15,000 aboard the flotilla of more than 2,000 small boats that lined the course.
Portsmouth was the first ACWS event of 2015 with two more opportunities — Gothenburg, Sweden, Aug. 28-30 and Bermuda, Oct. 16-18 — for teams to earn points this year towards the Challenger finals in 2017.
The opening event of the ACWS, which was scheduled for Cagliari, Sardinia in June was canceled following Luna Rosa’s withdrawal from the America’s Cup after a majority of teams voted to reduce the size of the catamarans for the second time in less than a year.
First staged in 1851 off the Isle of Wight, the America’s Cup, originally known as the Royal Yacht Squadron’s 100 Pound Cup, is international sport’s oldest trophy. It has not returned to British waters since that first race, which was won by the schooner America.
Bermuda will also host the America’s Cup signature regatta in 2017.