‘First Thursday’ sets the scene for a spectacular Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, Portsmouth
- America’s Cup teams sailing on the Solent for the first time in 164 years
- The America’s Cup trophy arrives in spectacular style
- Skippers preparing for full-speed competition in tomorrow’s practice races
- Land Rover BAR looking forward to racing on home turf
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, Portsmouth got off to a sparkling start on ‘First Thursday’ July 23.
Today was the first day that America’s Cup challengers have lined up against each other on the Solent since the very first race for the famous ‘100 Guineas’ trophy was held, with a race around the Isle of Wight in front of Queen Victoria back in 1851.
Then, Queen Victoria was famously told “Your Majesty, there is no second.” The six competitors preparing for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series UK (LVACWSUK) kept that tradition alive as they showed off their competitive side with informal practice racing, flying the foiling AC45s high along the racecourse area, just metres off the shore.
Earlier in the morning, the famous 164-year-old ‘Auld Mug’ was displayed in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which is also home to the six America’s Cup teams for the event. The spectacular trophy was transported on a Royal Marines amphibious landing craft, before being brought ashore to a waiting fleet of convertible BMW cars.
Accompanied by Dr Harvey Schiller, Commercial Commissioner for the 35th America’s Cup, and Sir Keith Mills, Chairman for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth, it was paraded through the crowds along the seafront to the Fanzone Arena.
After the Cup’s parade it was the turn of the AC45s, with the Official Parade of Sail. Escorted by HMS St Albans, a Type 23 frigate and guardship for the AC45 fleet in Portsmouth, the six AC45s sailed along the packed shore, with crowds lining every vantage point to watch the six Challengers for the 35th America’s Cup sailing together for the first time. Each team performed a flyby, demonstrating how the AC45F’s ‘foil’ high above the water, and enjoyed some informal practice racing to give the audience a taste of the weekend’s competitive action.
Tomorrow, Friday July 24 will see the six foiling AC45Fs lining up for Official Practice races. With just one more day before the point-scoring races begin on Saturday, July 25, every team will be competing to the max.
Nathan Outteridge, helm, Artemis Racing
“I think in every practice race, everyone’s taking it as seriously as they can. There’s a lot to learn in a short space of time, so you’ve got to put your best foot forward. If you do well tomorrow, you’re going to build confidence for the next day. And if you do poorly you’ll be sitting up all night reviewing all the footage to work out what you did wrong. So from now on, everyone will be going full speed.”
Glenn Ashby, sailing manager, Emirates Team New Zealand
“All those guys have done a lot of yachting on different boats, so the competition’s going to be fierce, and they’re all extremely talented. But the guys that we’ve got on board, you wouldn’t want to go up against them individually either! I can’t race to put the racing hat on and get out there!”
Franck Cammas, skipper, Groupama Team France:
“We are really happy to be here. We have to learn a lot because the teams that are also competing are very, very good teams, the best in the world. One month ago we didn’t know that we could be here today, so we are very happy and very proud to be here, but we need to work a lot!”
Dean Barker, Skipper & CEO, Softbank Team Japan:
“It’s going to be a big challenge. It’s been 15 years since Japan was last in the America’s Cup. So it’s going to be interesting, and it will be challenging but also very exciting. It’s great to be here in Portsmouth, I’m enjoying the great sailing conditions that we’ve had out here in the training today. We’ve learnt a lot – still pretty rusty at times – and we’re looking just to putting together a good solid series here, and look to build on that in the future.”
Sir Ben Ainslie, skipper, Land Rover BAR:
“It’s fantastic, I’m so proud of what the event team here have done, and for us hosting and being based here in Portsmouth to be able to race in front of our home crowd, it’s such a special moment. It’s a new era for the America’s Cup and for the America’s Cup in the UK. There was a lot of support on the back of the Oracle win [Ben was part of the winning Oracle Team USA crew in 2013] and being involved with that, but now we have a really strong British team, we’re based here in Portsmouth, and we’ve built a fantastic new base here. It’s just so exciting – you can already see the number of people down here watching the training day, so the weekend’s just going to be fantastic.”
Tom Slingsby, of Oracle Team USA:
“I think it’s amazing! I had a walk around the set up and I can’t believe how much infrastructure there is – it will definitely take a couple of hundred thousand people, and hopefully we’ll get that watching this weekend. The racecourse is great, I think we should bring it as close to shore as possible, and let the spectators basically see the look on our faces! We’ll push it as close as we can to that port. It’s just a really good amphitheatre for sailing.”
The event village re-opens tomorrow at 1000am, with FREE tickets still available at the Waterfront Festival Arena, and paid-for tickets for the Fanzone Arena offering the closest views of the racecourse. Practice racing begins at 1330pm, with a second performance of the South Coast Proms featuring the Massed Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines tomorrow evening