Sir Ben Ainslie: America’s Cup rivals will be gunning for us but we are ready

Land Rover Bar skipper and home-favourite Sir Ben Ainslie   Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Land Rover Bar skipper and home-favourite Sir Ben Ainslie Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
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SIR BEN AINSLIE is expecting to come under fire from all angles this weekend as the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series returns to Portsmouth.

But the Land Rover BAR skipper is confident his crew will be strong enough to ensure they are not tripped up as they bid for home glory.

The tactical battle in the Solent could see the opposition gang up to try to make life difficult for Ainslie’s boat.

But with home support on their side and any advantage they can gain from local knowledge, there is every opportunity for BAR to stay one step ahead.

Ainslie believes the preparation and training they have done will stand them in good stead if they do find themselves a target for tactical manoeuvring when the real racing starts on Saturday and Sunday.

He said: ‘The others will be wanting to make sure they upset the home-crowd team.

‘We have got to look out for that. It will be part of the tactics I imagine.

‘That’s part of the challenge we face as the home team.

‘Ultimately we have just got to go out and perform on those two days.

‘If we can do that and we sail as we have practiced and as we have trained I think we will be okay.’

The practice race takes place today at 1.30pm.

Then the main events are tomorrow and Sunday with points up for grabs in the World Series.

When the teams raced in Portsmouth for the first time in July last year it was a voyage into the unknown.

But since then they have competed in a number of events including Gothenburg, Bermuda and recently Chicago.

Land Rover BAR are currently joint second in the World Series standings with Oracle Team USA on 285 points.

Emirates Team New Zealand are leading the way with 295 points.

Swedish team Artemis Racing are currently fourth going into this weekend with SoftBank Team Japan fifth and Groupama Team France bottom of the standings.

Now the teams will all have the knowledge they gained from racing in Portsmouth last time to fall back on.

Ainslie added: ‘All of the teams will have learnt a lot from the event last year.

‘It’s a similar race course, so we will have to see what the conditions are like for the weekend.

‘I imagine from the long-term forecast that they are similar.

‘For all of us we will be thinking about what happened last year, what worked, what didn’t work and it’s up to us to try to make sure we put that into practice for the competition.’

The World Series is the first stage of competition in the 2017 America’s Cup and began in the summer of 2015.

Featuring all of the America’s Cup teams racing in foiling, one-design AC45 catamarans, the circuit is an early opportunity to put points on the board that carry forward into the next stage of the competition.

Overall ranking position in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series determines the starting points score of the teams in the America’s Cup Qualifiers in 2017.