Elite sailors prepare to do battle in the Solent for Portsmouth Cup ahead of America’s Cup World Series

�Pedro Martinez / RC44 Class PPP-160630-124622002
�Pedro Martinez / RC44 Class PPP-160630-124622002
Picture: Paul Jacobs (142476-229) PPP-140824-032155001

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ELITE sailors are gearing up to battle it out in the Solent in a prestigious sailing contest ahead of the return of the America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth next week.

The RC44 Championship Tour will bring together top sailors who have already competed in the America’s Cup.

The contest – which will see teams race in RC44 yachts designed by five-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts – is being hosted from Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup training complex at the Camber, in Old Portsmouth.

It starts today and runs through to Sunday, when a winner will be crowned and presented with the Portsmouth Cup.

The teams’ yachts will be berthed within Gunwharf Quays Marina.

Colin Wilding, general manager at Gunwharf Quays, said: ‘We are excited that our guests will have the opportunity to see these spectacular boats up close during the race weekend.

‘It’s a unique opportunity and, in such close proximity, visitors will be able to take in the beautiful craftsmanship and design of each yacht.’

Those competing on the water include:

n Sir Russell Coutts, designer of the RC44 and CEO of the America’s Cup event authority, the organising body for the 35th America’s Cup.

n Ed Baird, tactician on board Team Nika and the only American Helmsman to win the America’s Cup since 1992.

n Torbjourn Tornqvist, helm of Artemis Racing and the owner of the Swedish America’s Cup challenger.

n Freddy Loof, tactician on board Artemis Racing Youth RC44 and tactician for Artemis Racing.

n Francesco Bruni, tactician on board Artemis Racing RC44, former tactician on board Italian America’s Cup challenger Luna Rossa and helmsman for Artemis Racing.

n Chris Bake, helm of Team Aqua.

n Vasco Vascotto, tactician on board Peninsula Petroleum and former skipper of Italian challenger to the 34th America’s Cup Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team.

OLYMPIC sailing legend Sir Ben Ainslie has spoken of his pride in Portsmouth hosting the RC44 Championship Tour.

Sir Ben, principal of Portsmouth-based sailing side Land Rover BAR, which hopes to clinch victory at next week’s America’s Cup World Series, said: ‘It’s great to have such a prestigious and high caliber event come to Portsmouth.

‘We are delighted to be able to host the event from within our team headquarters.

‘It allows us to share these outstanding facilities with like-minded individuals and we will enjoy having ringside seats to the action this RC44 event is sure to deliver.’

The Solent hosts some of the world’s most famous sailing events.

They include; Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race and most recently the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth.

To buy tickets for the city’s World Series cup regatta, which takes place off Southsea Common from July 21 to 24, visit lvacwsportsmouth.com