Ainslie’s happy hunting ground
Land Rover BAR will be keen to make further inroads towards the British challenger’s bid “to bring home the cup” at this weekend’s Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Bermuda.
At stake at the conclusion of the series are points that teams will carry through to the America’s Cup Qualifiers in 2017 which Sir Ben Ainslie, the Land Rover BAR team principal and skipper, is going all out for.
“These races count moving forward to the next stage of the qualification, and potentially through to the cup itself, so we’re racing for keeps,” Ainslie said.
“We want to do well in that respect, so as a new team it’s important for us to perform well to set the standard for where we want to be in the pecking order.
“We want to be challenging at the top of the game, and if we can perform well it’s important, not only as a sailing team, but also for our designers, our boat builders and the whole of our team back in the UK.”
Land Rover BAR are second behind leaders Emirates Team New Zealand in the World Series standings heading into the Bermuda leg.
The British challenger has already enjoyed success in the series having won the first event at the team’s home port in Portsmouth in July.
“All of the work we had done as a new team building up over 18 months, to have a new facility in Portsmouth, to race in front of our home crowd and to actually win it for the first America’s Cup of this cycle was amazing,” said Ainslie, who was a member of Oracle Team USA’s crew that retained the “Auld Mug” in 2013.
“Other than actually going out and winning the cup, it’s probably the biggest thing we could have done.
“We were absolutely delighted, but we know this is the first step among many down the road to 2017 in Bermuda and trying to knock Oracle off the top.”
Traditionally, Bermuda has proven to be a happy hunting ground for Ainslie.
He won a gold medal in the Laser when the Island hosted the 1995 World Youth Sailing Championships, and is also a two-times Argo Group Gold Cup winner, having won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.
“We love being in Bermuda and have done many Gold Cups here,” Ainslie said. “We always have a good feeling in Bermuda.”
The World Series is contested in the one-design AC45F foiling catamaran that has been upgraded since the previous cycle.
“They [AC45F] are a real challenge on these races courses that we have now and physically it’s incredibly hard for all of the sailors,” Ainslie said.
“But they are exhilarating and we have seen the capabilities that they have, which I think is great for the spectators.”
In the build-up to this weekend’s racing, BAR launched their new test boat, dubbed “T2” from their home base in Portsmouth.
The new boat is being hailed as “a big step forward for the team” and brings them into line with Artemis and Oracle Team USA.
While T2 is around the same length as the previous boats, she is wider and significantly more powerful.
However, the most obvious difference, from the outside at least, is that she has a cockpit for the crew and wheel steering for the helmsmen.
Andy Claughton, Land Rover BAR’s chief technology officer and a two-time America’s Cup winner, calls it “the most technologically advanced sailing boat I’ve ever been involved with.
“It’s the vital next step on our path to developing the boat that will challenge for the America’s Cup, containing some of the most innovative and powerful technology ever used in this competition.”