CHRIS RASHLEY spoke of his pride after opening the show at the America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth and admitted: One day I’d love to share centre stage.
Rashley was first out on the waters yesterday morning in the Moth racing and showed his international class by claiming race victories in all four exhibition events.
The Stokes Bay sailor, who is the reigning European champion in his class, impressed in front a bumper crowd of spectators – all lined up along the sea wall to watch the subsequent official Parade of Sail.
And while Ben Ainslie & Co’s presence in the fast, foiling, wing-sailed AC45 catamarans was the clear draw for the masses on an historic day for the city, Rashley has refused to rule out a future place in sailing’s most prestigious competition,
He said: ‘I would love to be involved with an America’s Cup team but it is about being realistic.
‘There are not many guys on the boats and a lot of those guys have got that experience, so I am going to go away and get that experience and really earn it.
‘Hopefully one day I will be sitting on the side of that boat with some of those really talented guys who are out there.’
For now, though, just sailing in the same waters as his heroes proved a moment to savour for Rashley.
He said: ‘It was absolutely brilliant.
‘We launched at about 10am and there were crowds of people already flooding on to the promenade.
‘It was really nice to go out there and do some racing in front of crowds of people who are genuinely interested in sailing and what is going on.
‘The America’s Cup is fantastic for this city and for sailing as well.
‘It is the absolute pinnacle of sailing and it is nice to be out on the water at the same time as those guys and to be included with what they are doing.’
And Rashley believes Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR are well placed to capitalise on home advantage, having had a sneak peek at their preparation.
He added: ‘Yesterday, winds were quite light in the morning and gradually built throughout the day as often happens in the summer here.
‘The forecast for the weekend is going to be quite windy, so I would expect some spectacular racing and quite a few thrills and spills.
‘I am very patriotic, so I obviously want BAR to pull it out of the bag.
‘I have watched them training quite a lot over the last two weeks and they have been extremely impressive.
‘They have been by far and away the leaders in the practice races they have been doing.’