PORTSMOUTH, United Kingdom, (Pakistan Point News - 23th july, 2016) : Ben Ainslie thrust Britain's America's Cup campaign into serious contention for the 35th Cup in 2017 when Landrover BAR dominated racing on the first day of the World Series in Portsmouth on Saturday. Winning two out of the three races, both in light winds, Ainslie showed audacity and opportunism in his tactics and familiarity with the Solent race track, where his team trains on a daily basis, to seize consecutive victories in the second and third races.
But it was Franck Cammas' Groupama Team France who gave the British a run for the money with an emphatic win by almost two minutes in the first race and consistently won the starts to prove that France too are a team to reckon with for next year's America's Cup. "Morale is really high on board after today's performance but the French also had a fantastic day," said the British team's wing trimmer Paul Campbell-James. "They will be hard to beat but we feel we are sailing well.
Ben is making amazing starts which gives us a little jump. We have good boat handling despite a few mistakes but we need to build on the momentum we had today. "Hopefully we can pull out all the stops in front of this home crowd tomorrow. It will all about taking the ladders and avoiding the snakes." Adam Minoprio, the New Zealander who joined Groupama in January when skipper Cammas broke his leg in a racing accident, put their progress down to extra hours spent on the water training and racing foiling catamarans.
"It's good to have good days like today but we could do with a good regatta so we have something to take home to motivate the shore crew, designers and keep everyone pushing hard for the same goal," he said. Groupama Team France have yet to win a regatta in the series while Land Rover BAR won the first event in Oman in February. They are currently second overall on the 2016 leaderboard and intent on winning the Portsmouth regatta in front of a home crowd to build a strong British support base for the campaign.
One of the biggest crowds Portsmouth has seen for a sporting event turned out to lend their support and lined the shores at Southsea. They were delighted when Ainslie forced his way through the fleet in the final race to head into a favourable breeze and the lead which prompted the crowd to erupt into enthusiastic applause. Light, shifting winds made for tricky conditions in the Solent and proved too light for the AC45 boats to fly on their hydrofoils with wind holes forcing boats to park up at the markers and stop dead in the water.
Iain Percy's Artemis Racing, flying the Swedish flag, came off worse with two fifth places and a last to sit at the bottom of the table with series leaders Emirates Team New Zealand also struggling in fifth place and Softbank Team Japan in fourth. America's Cup defenders Oracle Team USA lie in third but a forecast for fresher breeze on Sunday and double points up for grabs, the leaderboard is set for a shake-up.