Late summer sunshine greeted the thousands of spectators who made it out in force for Super Sunday at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Toulon, and it is Artemis Racing who leave France celebrating after taking the regatta honours.
Behind them, Softbank Team Japan went from last on Saturday to finishing second overall, an incredible turnaround, but the British boys on Land Rover BAR were also looking much happier than they had on Saturday night, ending up third overall from fifth the day before.
That result extends their overall lead in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series as attention now turns to the final event in Fukuoka, Japan.
The first race of Sunday was race four, led away by Emirates Team New Zealand under the helm of Olympic Champion Pete Burling, but, as per Saturday, Artemis Racing were quickly up ahead and around the first mark ahead of Softbank Team Japan who were very keen to make amends for their disappointing Saturday.
Behind them Land Rover BAR had a penalty before the startline but fought hard up to third place at the halfway mark with ORACLE TEAM USA, Groupama Team France and Emirates Team New Zealand behind. Artemis stretched their lead, crossing the line at the end of race three first for the third time over the weekend, but it was Groupama Team France who were most disappointed with race four, finishing in sixth behind Emirates Team New Zealand and slipping to fourth in the regatta standings. Land Rover BAR held that third place, but ORACLE TEAM USA kept up the overall standings pressure just behind in fourth, so everything was there to play for in races five and six.
The thousands of fans lining the Toulon shore were hoping for a better showing from Groupama Team France in race five but it was Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR who seized the early advantage, streaking ahead to the first mark, but to loud cheers from the shore, Groupama Team France were second, showing the sort of form that put them into second place overnight in the regatta on Saturday.
Artemis Racing and Softbank Team Japan both had to serve penalties after the start, but all eyes were on the French team in second and they did not disappoint, pushing the Brits all the way. However, yet again in Toulon, Artemis Racing were the team to watch, moving their way up to third by the start of leg four. Behind them, ORACLE TEAM USA were having a race to forget in sixth, as were Softbank Team Japan who were in fifth, leaving Emirates Team New Zealand in fourth.
At the finish line of race five the positions had not changed – Land Rover BAR in first, Groupama Team France second and Artemis Racing third, but Softbank Team Japan had moved into fourth, leaving ORACLE TEAM USA battling it out with Emirates Team New Zealand for fifth and sixth respectively.
Race six, the decider and an utterly enthralling and topsy-turvy race. A messy start for ORACLE TEAM USA and Artemis Racing who were both hit with penalties for crossing the startline early, but Groupama Team France finally showed their mettle, putting clear air between themselves and Softbank Team Japan in second and taking a huge early advantage.
Land Rover BAR picked up a penalty for not giving room to Emirates Team New Zealand, relegating them to the back of the fleet, but throughout the race that ensued there were lead changes in the overall standings throughout, keeping the fans watching live at the event and on TV on the edge of their seats.
One minute it was Groupama Team France up ahead, then suddenly Softbank Team Japan were out in front, Emirates Team New Zealand were second and the home team, Groupama Team France, were third, and thus race six finished.
With that result in the last race, Softbank Team Japan, sixth on Saturday, had, incredibly, put themselves into second overall in the regatta, but it was Artemis Racing who were really celebrating, taking overall regatta honours despite finishing fifth in race six.
Land Rover BAR finished the weekend third, Groupama Team France fourth, Emirates Team New Zealand fifth and ORACLE TEAM USA sixth.
Those results extend Land Rover BAR’s lead in the overall series to 14 points over ORACLE TEAM USA, so the pressure in the last round in Fukuoka, Japan, will be intense, but for now, the Swedish are celebrating harder than anyone and will be looking to continue that form in Asia.
Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Toulon Leaderboard:
Position. Team (Race Finish Positions) – Total Points
1. Artemis Racing (1, 1, 3, 1, 3, 5) – 76 points
2. SoftBank Team Japan (5, 4, 5, 2, 4, 1) – 71 points
3. Land Rover BAR (6, 6, 1, 3, 1, 4) – 70 points
4. Groupama Team France (4, 3, 2, 6, 2, 3)– 68 points
5. Emirates Team New Zealand (2, 2, 6, 5, 6, 2) – 63 points
6. ORACLE TEAM USA (3, 5, 4, 4, 5, 6) – 57 points
Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Overall Leaderboard
1. Land Rover BAR – 437 points
2. ORACLE TEAM USA – 423 points
3. Emirates Team New Zealand – 420 points
4. SoftBank Team Japan – 399 points
5. Artemis Racing – 391 points
6. Groupama Team France – 360 points
Selected Team Quotes:
Nathan Outteridge, Skipper, Artemis Racing: “Very happy indeed! To come away with a win in Toulon in what were very light, difficult conditions is good. We had a very good day on Saturday but to back it up with another strong performance on Sunday is obviously very pleasing.
“I think we’ve made some big strides in how we sail the boat and how we deal with the racecourses and the race format. It was pretty obvious that we weren’t really up to it at the start of the series, but that’s what the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series is for, it’s to prepare you for the America’s Cup and it feels like we’re on the right way up. We’re very happy with the decision making in the races between Perc (Iain Percy) and myself and we couldn’t be happier with how we’re sailing the boat right now.
“Our boat handling skills in light winds were a bit of a weakness and we’ve been preparing for a while now for dealing with exactly these sorts of conditions so when you’ve put that much time and effort into preparing for a certain wind range, you kind of want it, and that’s what we got this weekend. A lot of teams were disappointed with the weather, but we were excited as it gave us a chance to put into practice what we’ve been working on, so to win as we did is just great.”
Dean Barker, Skipper, Softbank Team Japan: “Yesterday was a tough day. We felt like we’d sailed ok but we just had some bad results. Today though we spent a lot of time talking through the situations and how we could do things better and to bounce back with a strong day means we’re really happy with how this weekend has ended. To be on the podium is very pleasing, and that’s obviously the goal, to keep improving.
“These events are the chance we have to measure the performance of the team, to see where we’re performing and improving as a group. There’s obviously a lot of relevance to what we’re doing in Bermuda but there’s elements at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series that are missing, in terms of technology and design, but we can still see improvements in how we work as a team, so that’s good.
“Looking ahead to Japan it’s going to be great for us, let alone it being a home race for our team, it’s another chance to take another step up in performance again. Seeing the support the British guys had at Portsmouth, and Franck and his crew had here, it will be special for us to race in Fukuoka so we can’t wait to get out there and perform in front of our team’s home fans. That, and the fact it’s another chance to prepare again for next year, they’re both good reasons to be excited about the last round of the series.”
Giles Scott, Tactician, Land Rover BAR: “It was a tricky day. We were a bit disappointed with the way we started yesterday in particular and last night we came together and had a really productive debrief. We went through what we needed to change today and I think we showed that worked. We went back to being our normal selves and started sailing the right way. It’s a bit of a shame that in the last race we came off poorly from the penalty at the start, but overall we recovered somewhat.
“Really though, the win of the weekend for us is the fact that we have managed to pull away in the overall standings in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series. We’re super happy with that and, looking forward to Japan, there’s still an awful lot of points up for grabs so we’ll approach that regatta like no other and hope we can stay on top of the leaderboard.”
Franck Cammas, Skipper, Groupama Team France: “It was amazing this weekend. To hear all the people who came out to see the show was a great feeling for us and all the teams. The event was organized really well and to have this many fans all weekend was almost a great surprise! To find out that many people wanted to come and support us was something special and we will use that as extra motivation to keep pushing everyone in Groupama Team France.
“In Japan the goal is clear – we want to improve as a team. It’s good to be able to work from our base, but when you’re in these events you can measure yourself against the competition, and Japan is another chance to do that. We have the chance to improve our communication and teamwork as a crew on board, in the live race environment, and that’s why these world series events are so important.”
Glenn Ashby, Skipper, Emirates Team New Zealand: “As we’ve seen, teams are winning regattas even when they’re finishing last, so it just shows that anything can happen. We’re still in touch with the lead and with a good performance in Japan, who knows what can happen. I can say though that we will certainly be going for the win in the last round and the overall series, so let’s see what happens.”
Tom Slingsby, Helmsman, ORACLE TEAM USA: “At ORACLE TEAM USA we hold ourselves to a high standard and when we don't perform we’re hard on ourselves. But what we do is learn from our mistakes and we come back stronger. I’m focusing on that now and what I can do to come back and help our team win the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series.”