Home favourites Land Rover BAR signalled their intent ahead of this weekend’s America’s Cup World Series racing in Portsmouth by impressing in practice today.
The Old Portsmouth-based outfit won two out of the four warm-up races held on the Solent.
They also finished third in the other two to confirm their status as the team to beat over the next two days of action.
Home advantage seemed to play its part in the first race as BAR, led by skipper and team principal Sir Ben Ainslie, overtook early leaders Groupama Team France before opening up an unassailable lead of their own to finish some 56 seconds ahead of their French counterparts.
To the delight of the watching crowd who lined the Southsea shore, it marked the perfect start for the British outfit.
Overall world series leaders, Emirates Team New Zealand, whose 10-point advantage BAR will look to wipe out this weekend, struggled as they took to the water for the maiden race.
They finished in last place of the six-boat fleet.
Both Emirates and Sweden’s Artemis Racing are without their regular helmsman this weekend and, unsurprisingly, were off the pace. Artemis finished in fifth spot.
And it was a similar story at both ends of the fleet in race two as BAR again dominated.
They overhauled a fast-starting France side once more to clinch a commanding win over Oracle Team USA.
Ainslie’s nous again proved invaluable as his boat sought a different route in the water to pull clear of the competition.
Artemis and Emirates’ struggles continued, meanwhile, with a repeat of their fifth and sixth-placed finishes.
Race three saw something of an upset as BAR were forced to settle for third, having failed to clinch a fast start.
Instead it was SoftBank Team Japan who took a deserved win, with a much-improved, Emirates Team New Zealand clinching second place to suggest their earlier poor finishes were simply teething problems.
That proved the case in the fourth and final race after Emirates led from start to finish to underline their standing as BAR’s biggest rivals.
Ainslie’s boat finished third behind SoftBank to complete a strong day’s racing.
At the end of the four practice races, no other side had amassed more points than