They say the years get faster, and this one has just flown by. It feels like more than a year and yesterday at the same time that the America’s Cup World Series was first raced in Portsmouth.
And now, as I am typing this, the AC45’s are heading out on the water for an unofficial day of practice before official practice racing tomorrow, and the real deal on Saturday and Sunday.
The official press conference kicked off at 1pm local time in Portsmouth, with all skippers, including Artemis Racing step-in for Nathan Outteridge, Francesco Bruni.
Key points of interest from the press conference include questions about which of the skippers would like to see the future of the America’s Cup more certain and defined, to which Sir Ben Ainslie of Land Rover BAR and Jimmy Spithill of Oracle Team USA had a firm taking to, for the sake of the general public and sponsorship value for sailing. Glenn Ashby of Emirates Team New Zealand took a strong stance for keeping the Cup as ‘The Deed of Gift is a very longstanding deed… and while I love sailing multihulls it is very hard to lock into something’. We will ask him more about this over the course of the event. Emirates Team New Zealand has for some time said they may return to monohulls and impose a nationality rule of some kind if they win the Cup.
There was also some excellent banter between Sir Ben Ainslie and James Spithill that was sparked by a question from Andy Green ‘There has always been subterfuge and intrigue in the America’s Cup, now you’re here in Portsmouth, Ben’s home, have you had anyone checking out his new technology, or following the boats around on the race course recently?’
To which Jimmy proudly answered, ‘We’ve got people here full-time, yeah. And so does he’.
Sir Ben Ainslie went on to ask Jimmy ‘You might just want to discuss those special shots you got the other week’.
Jimmy was quick to come back ‘innocently’ with ‘the wing hitting the shed?’.
‘No the other shot’ said Ben laughing with Jimmy.
‘The rudder tail?’ Jimmy replied.
All fun and games I am sure, that is until they are on the water, and clearly a lot happens behind the scenes that we all want to know about!
The video below includes the interviews with the skippers and all of the questions from the audience for all of the skippers, as well as some of my own questions afterwards with Francesco Bruni and Dean Barker. Most of the skippers are under extreme pressure at this end of the event so interviews were not my priority but rather to say hello and good luck as you will see.
None are under as much pressure as home favourite Sir Ben Ainslie, or maybe he is the happiest, following the birth of his first baby, daughter Bellatrix last Saturday. I said a quick hello and congratulated Sir Ben, but we will wait until after racing tomorrow or Saturday chat with him.
You can be sure to get all of the insights and interviews over the course of the event, my 31st for 2016, on social media and on your favourite sailing news website.
by Nic Douglass