THEY’RE ready to pour their heart and soul into bringing the America’s Cup back to Britain.
And now it’s the people’s turn to get behind Sir Ben Ainslie and his British sailing enterprise Land Rover BAR in their quest for glory.
After a day of intense practice racing in the Solent, which saw the Brits secure two wins and two third place finishes, the home team’s members say they’re ready to go all out to win this weekend’s competitive racing and take a step closer to the cup’s finals in Bermuda next year.
Thousands of sailing fans lined the shoreline to roar on Sir Ben and his crew as the sun beamed down on the Solent.
But today marks the beginning of races that count for points – and all eyes will be on Sir Ben and his team as they mount a huge challenge against cup holders Oracle Team USA and other big names, including Emirates Team New Zealand.
Paul Campbell-James, who performs the role of wing trimmer on Land Rover BAR’s world-class racing boat, said: ‘The support of the home crowd has been awesome; the best part of the races is the last leg going towards the finish, where you can see the crowd along the shore and see them shouting.
‘We find the more they shout, the faster we go. So their support today is crucial.
‘We feel absolutely ready to go and we’re determined to make the home crowd proud and win.
‘It’s definitely special to be in front of the home crowd, and seeing people waving Union flags and cheering Land Rover BAR on definitely gives us the home advantage.’
‘We will put 100 per cent in and hopefully we will get the results.’
The elite sailor added: ‘In the first two races we started at the front, but after that we didn’t, and it takes a lot to move through the fleet.
‘That’s what determines the good and great teams.’
Civic leaders spoke of their pride.
The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr David Fuller, said: ‘In terms of the major benefits this brings, where do you start?
‘It’s really putting us on the map.
‘It was great last year, but this year is looking to be something special. It’s going to be amazing for the economy.
‘Sir Keith Mills (the event chairman) has said there are going to be millions watching all over the world.
‘It’s so important we get behind Sir Ben and the team.’
Crowds say the Portsmouth World Series is proving to be one of the best of the sailing competition.
Shaun Clateworthy, of Hamble, who watched the racing in awe with wife Jo and their twins Feya and Tilda, said: ‘I went to New Zealand to watch the America’s Cup; that was out in the middle of nowhere, so this kind of stadium-style racing is brilliant.’
Cllr Donna Jones, Tory leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘The America’s Cup World Series is an amazing opportunity for Portsmouth to be showcased, not just nationally but internationally, with more than one million people watching the event worldwide.’
Today marks the start of other activities associated with the cup spectacle, including a grand ceremony where the America’s Cup trophy will arrive via a Royal Marine landing craft at Southsea Castle at 11.15am.
The Blades Aerobatic Display Team will wow spectators with a performance above the skies of the Solent from midday.
Then the action really heats up when the sailors compete in three races in a bid to secure points.
The ticketed Race Village arena will once again be open from 11am, while Southsea Common will remain open to all for free and families can bring picnics to enjoy while watching the day’s entertainment.