Land Rover BAR - the British challenge headed by Olympic legend Ben Ainslie - has won the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series with a first place finish at the ultimate event in Japan this weekend.
Crédit : R Pinto
Ainslie's team sailed extremely well to secure the overall title with a race to spare. With the overall series win, Land Rover BAR earns two bonus points for the next stage of the America's Cup (see below).
ORACLE TEAM USA and skipper Jimmy Spithill pushed hard, finishing ahead of BAR in the first race of the day, but Ainslie was able to sail with controlled aggression to a 4, 2, 3 scoreline, and into the overall series win.
"This has been a goal for us for the whole season and for this event. The guys have done an incredible job," Ainslie said from the water following the second race of the day.
"For us as a new team it sends out a strong message for all our supporters that we can do it."
For the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Fukuoka, it came down to a tie-break with Land Rover BAR clawing into a tie with Artemis Racing in the final contest, and taking the regatta by virtue of a better result in the last race.
But with attention shifting to Bermuda and the America's Cup racing next year, the focus was on the overall title and bonus points it confers.
By taking first place on the overall Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series leaderboard, Land Rover BAR has collected two bonus points to carry forward into next year's Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers in Bermuda.
With a second place finish on the overall leaderboard, ORACLE TEAM USA secured one bonus point for the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers next year.
A full report from Fukuoka will follow.
Sir Ben Ainslie, Skipper, Land Rover BAR: “It’s been an incredible day of racing and for our team, Land Rover BAR, to come out on top here in Fukuoka, Japan in the final race of the series, and to win the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, that was our goal and to achieve that is special for us. We are a completely new team, two and a half years ago we were a blank sheet back in Portsmouth in the UK and now, for our designers, our shore team and everyone back in the UK, it’s a real boost, so now we set our sights on Bermuda for the America’s Cup.
“Looking at this weekend, I think for all of us it’s what we love, when it gets aggressive. We had really good battles with Jimmy and with Emirates Team New Zealand and to go into that final race with the overall series sewn up, we were trying to get that bonus point off ORACLE TEAM USA and make life hard for them, but to their credit they did a good job of recovering.
“So, now we go ahead to next year. It’s going to be neck and neck and I can see it being incredibly tight. I think the bonus points are going to be a factor next year. They’re 20% of the points on offer in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers so it’s definitely worth having them, but also, for a new organization like ours, we need to show that we can perform at the highest level, for our own team, or our partners and our supporters, to show them all that we have a team with the capability of winning the America’s Cup, and I think we’ve shown that.
“I think this series has showcased just how tight it’s going to be in Bermuda next year. The level of competition and the skillsets of the sailors have been phenomenal, and now we move into our own race boats, our own designs, and I think that’s going to be fascinating for all the fans to see.”
Jimmy Spithill, Skipper, ORACLE TEAM USA: “"We wanted the points. We would have loved to have taken the two points,b ut one thing we weren't going to let happen was to have Emirates Team New Zealand take our point off us. So we ended up in a bit of match race with them at the end and the boys did a great job to keep them behind us."
"Our shore team and support crew and the guys on board have done a tremendous job over the last two years to make sure we had an opportunity to win it all, right down to the last day, and that's all you can ask for. I think it's a real tribute to them that we were in this position, but now we move on to the serious end of the business. The America's Cup is what we have to focus on now.
"We've been doing a lot of work in Bermuda and some great testing with SoftBank Team Japan and Artemis Racing, and we've got an extensive development program to go. Our shore team and engineering team and designers have continued to work away in Bermuda while we've been here, so we'll fly back there tomorrow and put the hammer down again."
Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series - OVERALL Leaderboard
1. Land Rover BAR -- 512
2. ORACLE TEAM USA -- 493
3. Emirates Team New Zealand -- 485
4. Artemis Racing -- 466
5. SoftBank Team Japan -- 460
6. Groupama Team France -- 419
From America's Cup