The form book that predicted Ben Ainslie as the skipper most likely to win the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series was played out with unerring accuracy when his team Landrover BAR was crowned Portsmouth champions after the final day of racing had to be abandoned.
Storm force winds swept through the Solent forcing organisers to evacuate public areas and clear the waters of spectator boats where the previous day, more than 2,000 boats had gathered in brilliant sunshine.
Ninety minutes of racing were due to start at 13.30 local time on Sunday and the programme was brought forward when 30 knots of wind were forecast making racing in the lightweight AC45s dangerous.
These high performance catamarans are known to capsize easily at around 25 knots so when the breeze built to 30 as forecast, the decision was taken to abandon.
It was the right decision, said Ainslie who spent the morning showing patrons the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge around the Landrover BAR team base.
“It was the right call because in those conditions, the boats would have capsized and people would have got hurt,” he said.
“You can’t mess around with these boats, they are very powerful and if they get out of control there is carnage. But we were delighted with the results and delighted to perform well in front of a home crowd. The event has been a huge success and it shows what support there would be if we were hosting the America’s Cup here.”
“We are now looking forward to Gothenburg. This is a great start for us – gives us a lot of momentum not just for the sailors but for the designers, boat builders and engineers back at base because it gives them belief that we can do this.
“We would have loved to have raced, but we deserved to win the event so it wasn’t an unexpected result. All the teams are incredibly tough so we have to move on and do well in the next event.”
Public areas around the free Waterfront Zone and the ticketed Fanzone where the event was being staged were evacuated as a precaution as thousands of visitors turned up in Portsmouth, despite the poor forecast, to follow the fortunes of Ainslie who had ended day one at the top of the leaderboard. All tickets were refunded at a massive cost to organisers.
Two races, worth double points, had been scheduled but with no racing possible on Sunday, Ainslie was declared winner of the ACWS event, giving his new campaign for the 2017 America’s Cup a welcome boost.
“We have had an incredible event and yesterday showed what it can be like when the conditions are right,” said Leslie Greenhalgh, event director at organisers Team Origin.
“We are looking forward to 2016 to the same four days in July when fingers crossed the weather might be a little bit better.” – Agence France-Presse