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.
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.
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
Selected America's Cup Team Quotes:
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."
Peter Burling, Helmsman, Emirates Team New Zealand: “It was really tough day out there and good to get some breeze at the end, especially after all the light air at the beginning. Despite that it was great to be properly racing and finish everything out there on the water. Full congratulations to Ben today for putting down a great performance and closing it out really well. For us, we were trying in that final race to give Jimmy a bit of a nudge to try and sneak that final bonus point, and it didn’t quite go our way. That’s racing though, we will learn from that, we’ll get stronger from it as a unit and then we’ll take those lessons into Bermuda in about six months time. For us it’s all about learning, getting better and putting ourselves in the best shape possible coming into the sailing in the ACC boats and we think we’re doing that.
“Not many of the penalties were going our way this weekend, but that’s how it is sometimes in yacht racing. Overall though, we’re still really happy to walk away with third in this Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series. We keep learning at every event, and even though that might not show on the leaderboard in the last couple of regattas, we’ve grown a lot as a group and are already looking forward to the challenge in Bermuda next year.“
Nathan Outteridge, Skipper, Artemis Racing: “It was a bit better for us today. Two wins and fourth in the last one, and after a tough day yesterday it was really nice to have a good day today. I think the change in performance was down to getting off the line better and making really good calls at mark one. We took a lot out of yesterday and realized we had to sail better, and that’s what we did today. Overall, it’s great to finish towards the top in this regatta. We finished up on equal points with old Benny (Ben Ainslie)
“What we’ve learnt the most is just how much we have had to take on in the last year and a half. This world series has taught us many lessons and to be able to finish off the season with a first and a second is great for our team. It gives us a lot of confidence for when we get the ACC boats in the water and a performance like this makes us a bit closer to being race ready for 2017.”
Dean Barker, Skipper, SoftBank Team Japan: “This weekend has completely exceeded all my expectations. The number of people that have turned up, both in the Event Village and out on the water, and the genuine support for the team, it’s just really cool, especially when you consider that this team is only just over a year and a half old. We’ve not only quickly built up this following, we’ve also renewed interest in the America’s Cup and what it is now, so it’s been a fantastic experience.
“The cool thing is that people really do care about it. Sailing is not a big sport in Japan, they’ve had success in the Olympics but in recent times there’s been no real connection between Japan and the major international events so to see what’s happened here in Fukuoka is something we’re all extremely proud of. Seeing how much attention Fuku has had here shows that there is a genuine buy-in and take up of what we’re doing and that, as I say, exceeds the expectations we had for what’s happened this weekend.
“The other side of this weekend is what happened on the water, and unfortunately we just left too many points out there on the water. We turned a couple of good places into bad, we had a mechanical failure on Saturday that turned a second into sixth and as always with these events, you lose a few points here and there and then it all adds up at the end of the weekend to a result you didn’t want. However, with how well this whole event has gone, we cannot be disappointed, only happy with the first ever America’s Cup event in Japan.”
Franck Cammas, Skipper, Groupama Team France: “Well a victory in the end so it was positive to finish the event and the whole series like that. For sure we were a little upset with the first two races because we made a good start and had good position in the middle of the race but, like yesterday, we lost at the end of the race. However, we won the final race and we have to think about that next year when we are racing again in Bermuda.
“Now our focus is on the turbo boat and then on the ACC (America’s Cup Class) boat, improve all parts of the boat and keep working back in Brest. We will move some pieces from the turbo boat to the ACC boat and then we will ship everything to Bermuda and start building the base there. Then we will start to sail there at the beginning of March, and then it’s the America’s Cup itself!”
Kazuhiko “Fuku” Sofuku, Bowman and General Manager, SoftBank Team Japan: “I am really quite overwhelmed about how well this event has gone and I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to make it happen. I also want to thank all the people who came out to support us and the event, it really has been incredible, everything. As I say, it is overwhelming to see how many people turned up, so thank you.”