Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Portsmouth 2016:
Regatta Preview

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Regatta Preview: Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth

July 21, 2016

Playing the angles in Thursday's practice racing. Photo: ©2016 John Crisp
Playing the angles in Thursday's practice racing. Photo: ©2016 John Crisp

The build-up to AC35 in Bermuda next year continues with the next round in Portsmouth, UK, taking place this coming weekend, the 22-23-24 of July.

At stake for the challengers at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth are points toward the final ACWS standings, which will affect the Qualifiers next year, enough incentive to be a big driver for all the teams.

This vast naval port is also the center of operations for UK's America's Cup challenger. What was most impressive on a visit Thursday to the LandRover BAR base was the team’s combined drive towards victory in the Cup and toward doing that in an environmentally sustainable fashion.

They want to win without leaving pollution in their wake.

LandRover BAR’s vision is creating the most sustainable sports team in the country, with Ben Ainslie aiming not to just win back the Cup, but in the process to build an infrastructure for the future, encompassing environmental issues and sustainability, training, youth development, and education.

The British team wants to show that being environmentally friendly does not mean sacrificing speed, and change attitudes towards performance when coupled with sustainability.

The building that houses the team itself is remarkable, both from the the ambitious scope as HQ for the LandRover BAR campaign, and from the huge efforts the organization is making to reduce their environmental impact, ranging from solar power to plants that encourage bees, and cultivating oysters to help rebuild the declining native population which help to purify water. The team all walk, cycle, or car share to work wherever possible. It is more than just a mentality. It is a daily way of life for the entire team.

The team has brought several sponsors on board, drawn to LandRover BAR by the challenger’s innovative sustainability practices, so the project is already making an impression for more than just sailing achievement.

Land Rover BAR's well-equipped workshop bays. Photo: ©2016 John Crisp
Land Rover BAR's well-equipped workshop bays. Photo: ©2016 John Crisp

Talking with LRBAR’s Hugh Cornwell, I asked how the teams were coping with moving between the LVACWS AC45 boats and the more specialized AC development boats. He said that though there were differences between them, they were swapping between boats on a very regular basis and it wasn't an issue.

Did the team have any fears that with new boats for the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda, one team may find a “silver bullet” and run away with the competition?

He acknowledged that this is a potential issue, but felt that with the design parameters on wings and hulls being pretty tight, there was less chance of teams gaining a massive advantage. He expects the big performance gains will probably be in foils and their technology (and that the learning curve for foiling was still enormous). As teams have a “quiver” of foils to choose from prior to racing, getting the right choice on the right day will make a big difference.

The teams are currently working on their fourth iteration of development multihulls. With this boat they will start two-boat training in the autumn to help improve design and performance, and in November LRBAR will move base to Bermuda.

All of the teams will be permitted to launch their new AC50’s in late December of this year.

Looking further into the future the teams are in discussions about the future after AC35. Standardization on one design for both LVACWS and the AC itself is one issue. What that format will be is still under discussion.

Also under consideration is making the America’s Cup a bi-annual competition, regardless of the winner. As ever, the America’s Cup is a moving feast and continues to surprise.

To round the day off the six teams went out training this afternoon in a moderate southwesterly. They had four practice starts but only sailed a couple of legs, making any results meaningless. What was fantastic was to see these machines in action, spectacular when perched up on their foils like a fleet of nodding dogs or seahorses!

There was a reasonable crowd along the waterfront to enjoy the action for free, and with the leeward mark only 100 yards or so offshore it was compelling to see the boats steaming downhill on their foils. Rounding the leeward mark as the cats come off the foils and harden up is often entertaining, with the boats frequently looking like they are about to backflip. You don't just needs sinews of steel to sail these things, you need nerves of titanium as well!

Thursday’s action on the water served as a loosely structured warm-up, but all in all a great way to get the juices flowing for the coming weekend.


--- Reporting by John Crisp for CupInfo/©2016 CupInfo.com


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