British sailing great Sir Ben Ainslie believes his team have laid down a marker on their quest to claim sport’s oldest trophy after they won the America’s Cup World Series.
Land Rover BAR clinched victory in the nine-leg series by topping the table at the last event in Fukuoka, Japan, on Sunday.
The overall series win means that Ainslie’s team will take two bonus points into next year’s America’s Cup Qualifiers, the next stage in their mission to bring the trophy back to Britain for the first time.
“This has been a goal for us for the whole season and for this event. For us as a new team, it sends out a strong message for all our supporters that we can do it,” said Ainslie.
“Two and a half years ago we were a blank sheet back in Portsmouth. Now, for our designers, our shore team and everyone back in the UK, it’s a real boost.
“So, now we go ahead to next year. It’s going to be neck and neck and I can see it being incredibly tight. We need to show that we can perform at the highest level, that we have a team with the capability of winning the America’s Cup, and I think we’ve shown that.”
Next summer’s qualifiers will determine which team earns the right to challenge the defending champions, Oracle Team USA, in the America’s Cup proper, which is to be held in Bermuda in June.
Land Rover BAR pipped Sweden’s Artemis Racing by virtue of having a better result in the final race in Fukuoka, having both finished the regatta on 75 points.
That left Ainslie’s team on 512 points overall, 19 ahead of Oracle Team USA, with Emirates Team New Zealand, runners-up last time in 2013, third on 485 points.