America's Cup World Series

The America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth marks the beginning of the long road to the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda. Nine World Series events will give the teams the chance to check out the competition in their foiling AC45s before hitting the course in Bermuda in their new AC62s.

The World Series is the first stage of competition for the America’s Cup and culminates in Bermuda in 2017. The overall rankings will determine the starting point score for the teams in the America’s Cup Qualifier.

Over the past few months the teams have changed and some sailors have jumped ship. The long established Italian team, Luna Rossa, has pulled out and Chris Draper has moved to the latest entry, Team Japan with former Kiwi skipper Dean Barker.

The Defender

Oracle Team USA is best known for their amazing comeback to defend the 34th America’s Cup in 2013. But the team has had their fair share of drama in the past. The last America’s Cup World Series saw their boats disqualified and some sailors heavily penalised for illegally altering the one-design catamarans. They are back and ready to defend again.

Owned by the world’s fifth richest man Larry Ellison (according to Forbes), they are expected to have the best of the best equipment, shore team and sailors.

Some have dubbed them the ‘Aussie Team’ since so many of our best sailors make up the team including Skipper James Spithill, Team Manager and Tactician Tom Slinsgby, Wing Trimmer Kyle Langford and Headsail Trimmer Joey Newton, among others. A recent and interesting recruit is Australian surf lifesaving ironman legend and two-times Olympic open water swimmer Ky Hurst.

The team is now based in Bermuda and has spent the last few months getting to know the racecourse alongside Artemis Racing.

The British

Led by the most celebrated Olympic Sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie who was also part of the 2013 winning team, Land Rover BAR has their eyes on the Auld Mug in 2017. The British want to take the Cup home to where it began back in 1851. The team was launched in June 2014 in the presence of the Duchess of Cambridge.

They know what it means to win. With a number of Extreme Sailing Series titles, Volvo Ocean Races, World Championships, Olympic medals and countless America’s Cups among them. The sailing team comprises Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR) as skipper, Paul Campbell-James (GBR), David ‘Freddie’ Carr (GBR), Matt Cornwell (GBR), Nick Hutton (GBR), Andy McLean (NZL), Giles Scott (GBR) and three time America’s Cup champion Jono Macbeth (NZL) as Team Manager.

The British team is well-funded and has the support of the country behind them. They will be a major player in the 35th America’s Cup.

The Kiwis

Emirates Team New Zealand was the challenger in the 34th America’s Cup and let it slip through their fingers as the defender fought back from 1-8. Since then, the team has had a major reshuffle with Dean Barker leaving for Team Japan and Kiwi 49er world champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke signing on.

It is no surprise the team secured the talents of Burling and Tuke, who have dominated in the 49er recently. With Burling on the helm and Australian Glenn Ashby as Sailing Team Director, they have some amazing talent on board. Ashby is one of the world’s best multihull sailors, having won 16 World Championships in a number of different classes and the silver medal in the Tornado at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

While the Kiwis have been known to be one of the strongest teams involved in the America’s Cup, they will have to fight for the chance to challenge in Bermuda in 2017. Internal strife over the dropping of Dean Barker as skipper and the management style of team CEO Grant Dalton has seen support in their home country wane. They need a good showing in the World Series to recapture the love of their Kiwi fans.

The Swedes

Artemis Racing was the underdog of the 34th America’s Cup. They had everything thrown at them in the lead up to the Challenger Series, including the death of crew member Andrew “Bart” Simpson after a pitchpole in their AC72. Despite missing their first few races, they performed well and earned the respect of the San Francisco public for their bravery and determination.

This is one of the teams that have remained consistent since the last Cup and that has to be an advantage with a number of new teams and crew combinations around them. Led by British Olympian Iain Percy, Artemis will not leave anything on the table. Nathan Outteridge returns as skipper with his right hand man, Iain ‘Goobs’ Jensen trimming. Christian Kamp (DEN), Chris Brittle (GBR), Fredrik Loof (SWE) and their newest addition, Australian Luke Parkinson make up the rest of the sailing team.

Rod Davis (USA) joins them as coach in what will be his ninth America’s Cup. He has done every position on the boat from skipper to bowman and has been part of almost every Cup since 1987.

Hopefully all the difficulties are done and dusted for this team and they can be a strong contender for the challenger spot in the next Cup.

The French

Groupama Team France has joined in the race for the Auld Mug in 2017. The team is led by some of France’s greatest sailors including Franck Cammas, Michel Desjoyeaux and Olivier de Kersauson.

The French are known to be excellent multihull sailors and have won a huge number of the world’s toughest sailing competitions but they are yet to lift
the America’s Cup. Franck Cammas is one of the best. His CV has everything from multihulls to monohulls, solo to crewed sailing, round the world to Olympic.
His talent shows no bounds.

The Groupama Sailing Team has huge support in France but this is their first America’s Cup campaign as a team. They sail everything from Extreme 40s to Volvo 70s and Maxi Trimarans. They will benefit from a collaboration with Oracle Team USA after the defender offered to help them get to the start line by sharing design and technical expertise.

The French have experience in all things sailing and will bring this to the table for the next Cup.

The Japanese

Softbank Team Japan is the newest team in the 35th America’s Cup having only entered in April. But that has not stopped them from securing talented sailors with plenty of Cup experience. As I mentioned earlier, Dean Barker has joined the team as CEO and skipper with Chris Draper as Sailing Director and General Manager Kazuhiko Sofuko.

Barker has recruited some of his Kiwi team mates, Jeremy Lomas and Derek Saward for the America’s Cup World Series.

It will be tough for Softbank Team Japan to get off the ground and win so quickly but with the experience of Barker and Draper behind them they have a chance to be competitive once they find their feet. Like Groupama, they will receive assistance from the defender to help them get up to speed quickly.

There is so much to fight for in the America’s Cup World Series. Going into the America’s Cup Qualifier with an advantage over your competitors could make or break your campaign. The fight for the 35th America’s Cup has started and it will be a good one to follow, even
if it goes for a couple of years.

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