SAILORS have thanked crowds for packing out Southsea for the first set of high-octane America’s Cup racing in the Solent today.
Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR bagged first place in the first two practice runs, while Softbank Team Japan won the third and Emirates Team New Zealand won the final practice encounter.
The final race was classed as a ‘substitute’ to this weekend’s competitive racing, which are for points. That means if any of them are cancelled due to the weather, their win will count towards the final ACWS Portsmouth results.
Portsmouth poured out its pride as the sun beamed down on Southsea Common and the nearby Race Village arena, where crowds watched teams battle it out in the water.
Speaking at a press conference following the racing, Softbank Team Japan skipper Dean Barker said: ‘It was fantastic to see so much support for the home side here, obviously they got off to a blinding start. When you are at the start line, everyone wants to try as hard as they can.
‘The course was great, but very challenging because of the current and low winds.’
Team New Zealand joked they wouldn’t mind seeing any of the races being called off on Saturday and Sunday due to their win in the substitute contest.
Oracle Team USA skipper James ‘Jimmy’ Spithill said ‘the plan’ was to crash the ‘Ben Ainslie party’ this weekend. He said: ‘It’s all to play for.’