In 1851 fifteen yachts of the Royal Yacht Squadron raced the American Yacht, America, around the Isle of Wight. America won, taking the eponymous America's Cup home with it. It is the oldest international sporting trophy to be competed for regularly. Although it has been competed for regularly ever since, it has never been brought back to these shores. However, this year it just might. Sir Ben Ainslie is off to a flying start to bring the Cup back home.
The trophy was donated to the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) in 1857, under the Deed of Gift of the America's Cup. That Deed of Gift has been the subject of much controversy over the years and has been updated several times. It is a fact that it has often seemed as if there has been harder competition for the Cup in the law courts than there has been on the water.
Essentially the Deed allows yacht clubs to challenge whoever is the current holder for the cup as they see fit. NYYC successfully defended the cup from all challengers from 1856 to 1983. The challenges came from Britain, Canada and Australia and eventually, in 1983 it was won by an Australian club.
Given the defender-challenger format, the racing has always consisted of one yacht racing the other, or match racing. Inevitably this makes the racing and tactics rather different from conventional fleet racing. Essentially the requirement is not to lose to your opponent.
Over the years there have been a number of challenges in different forms and using a variety of yachts. From the 1930s racing took place in J-class yachts, which were large (over 120 feet), with a crew of over 30. They were elegant …and expensive. Consequently, in 1956 there was an agreement to make the competition less extravagant, by the adoption of the 12-Metre class yacht.
Twelve metres is not the length of the yachts, but refers to a complex formula which combines a number of dimensions (including length, width or beam and the sail area) the value of which must be less than or equal to 12. In other words there were restrictions on the designs, but not to the extent of stifling creativity and competition between the yacht designers.
With the adoption of the 12-Metre Class, the competition settled into a rhythm of quite regular challenges to the NYYC from British and Australian teams. Teams from the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Royal Thames Yacht Club challenged in 1958 and 1964 respectively, but never came close to worrying the defenders.
Only one club can challenge at a time, even though there may be several who would like to. So in 1970 it was agreed that there should be a separate competition among would-be challengers to select the one who would get the privilege of challenging the holder. The Challenger Selection Series took place in 1970, 1974 and 1980. Then in 1983 sponsorship was obtained from the Louis Vuitton luxury luggage manufacturer, so that the competition became the Louis Vuitton Cup. Having a challenger series meant that the strongest opponent would compete for the America's Cup, but also gave the challenging teams valuable practice.
Even if the 12-Metres were less extravagant than the J-classes, it is still a great expense to run a team and has been left largely to millionaires and latterly has relied on commercial sponsors. A British team backed by Millionaire Peter de Savary was thought to stand a realistic chance of the Cup in 1983. He sponsored an entry from the Royal Burnham Yacht Club with the yacht Victory '83. A total of seven yachts entered the Louis Vuitton Cup that year. After a series of round robin match races, in which every yacht raced every other one, Victory '83 lined up in the final against Australia II, entered by the Royal Perth Yacht Club. That yacht was also bankrolled by a millionaire, Australian, Alan Bond and was skippered by John Bertrand.
The final took the form of a best-of 5 series, and the Australians easily won the series 4-1. They went on to challenge NYYC for the America's Cup. New York sailed the yacht Liberty, skippered by Dennis Conner.
Bertrand and his team took some radical approaches to challenging for the Cup. Most prominent was the design of the yacht, by Dutchman Ben Lexcen. This featured a radical 'winged' keel. The details of the keel were aggressively kept secret. Whenever the yacht was craned out of the water a skirt was fitted around the keel to keep it hidden. Even when in the water it was not invulnerable: Conner's team were accused of sending scuba divers to attempt to inspect the keel.
Naturally the legality of the design was tested in the courts. NYYC tried to object on the grounds that the keel (which, of course, they had not seen) was not legal within the constraints of the 12-Metre rules and that, anyway, the keel had been designed 'out of country', not in Australia, but in the Netherlands. They lost on both counts.
Perhaps the keel gave the yacht better performance, but Bertrand was more interested in psychology. He liked the idea of the American crew feeling that they were up against an unbeatable secret weapon. All of the drama of concealing the keel had been intended to intensify that. He also applied psychology to his own crew. One of the exercises he gave them was to visualize what it would be like when they were in the lead in a race, ahead of Liberty. That way, when it happened, it was not a surprise; they could take it in their stride and concentrate on sailing the yacht.
And, indeed, it was a matter of when they were ahead of Liberty, as they went on to win the series 4-3. USA, the NYYC and Dennis Conner had finally lost the Cup.
Australia became the new defenders, so the next competition took place in Australian waters, in Freemantle, in 1987. The Royal Perth Yacht Club was to defend the Cup, but they wanted to find the best team to conduct that defence. Thus, as well as the Louis Vuitton Cup to select the best challenger, they held a Defender Selection Series. Four teams entered, fielding a total of six yachts and the series was eventually won by Kookaburra III.
Dennis Conner was still in the game, but now sailing for the San Diego Yacht Club (SDYC). He was most determined to regain the Cup, but first he had to earn the right to challenge – by winning the Louis Vuitton Cup. No fewer than 25 yachts were entered by 12 syndicates. Six were from the USA (including Conner), two from Italy, two from France, and one each from New Zealand, Canada and Great Britain.
The British challenge was supported by a syndicate, sponsored by the White Horse Whisky distillers with the yacht White Crusader. The early part of the regatta consisted of round-robin races over three rounds. In the end White Crusader did not make it beyond the round robins, while two US yachts, Stars and Stripes and USA made it to one of the semi-finals. While in the other semi-final the New Zealand yacht, Kiwi Magic, competed with the French yacht, French Kiss. The New Zealanders easily beat French Kiss 4-0 in the semi-final. Stars and Stripes.
In the finals Kiwi Magic was the favourite, partly because it had beaten Stars and Stripes twice in the round robins, and also it had won 37 out of 38 match races in the series. However, in the end it was Conner who won by 4 races to 1.
So now was Conner's chance to win back the cup he had lost, and indeed he did, beating Kookaburra by a convincing 4-0. Typical Australian humour was exhibited on the banner which greeted Stars and Stripes on returning to the dock after the final race, which read 'Well done Dennis… you bastard.' The Cup went back to the USA, but this time to San Diego.
It seems that at this time British millionaires found better ways to spend their money and lost interest in yachting. There was not to be another challenge from a British team – until 2017.
The America's Cup competition had settled into a gentle rhythm of regular competition in 12-Metre yachts, but this was all disrupted by the New Zealand banker Michael Fay who had been reading the Deed of Gift carefully. Under the terms of the Deed, as he read them, he turned up in November 1987 at the San Diego Yacht Club and issued a Notice of Challenge from the Mercury Bay Boating Club of New Zealand.
There was nothing in the Deed which said that the Cup should be competed in 12-Metre yachts, all it said was that they should be similar single-masted yachts of no more than 90 feet at the waterline. He therefore proposed to challenge with KZ-7 (or Kiwi Magic), a yacht of that maximum length, with a crew of 30 to 40 (compared with around 10 on a 12-Metre). With a huge sail area the yacht resembled an over-grown sailing dinghy.
Of course SDYC's first reaction was to run to the law courts. The terms of the Deed of Gift stated that it was subject to the laws of New York State, and hence the cases were heard in various courts in that state. Fay went as far as the New York Supreme Court, which ruled that his challenge was legal and that SDYC must answer the challenge on the water in the following year.
Dennis Conner was put in charge of the defence. He had no yacht and little time to build one. He was also able to read the Deed of Gift, though, and he decided that he might answer the challenge in a catamaran: it would be shorter than 90 feet (only 60 feet, in fact) and with a single mast. Two yachts were constructed, the difference being that on one of them the mast formed a wing, providing an extra driving force in addition to the sails. The one with the wing mast proved to be faster and so was chosen for the defence. Like his previous yacht this one was named Stars and Stripes.
To use a catamaran (or 'cat') was innovative. Cats are very stable and very fast – in a straight line. They perform best with the wind blowing across them (reaching). America's Cup courses generally consist of a leg to a buoy (or 'mark') directly upwind, followed by a leg (running) to another mark directly downwind, back towards the start. This mark is rounded and then the yachts head back upwind and this is repeated around four times.
No yacht can sail directly towards the wind. To make progress to windward they must therefore sail as narrow an angle as they can towards the wind and tack backwards and forwards to make ground towards the wind. Catamarans cannot sail at as narrow an angle to the wind (as 'close' to the wind) as monohulls. They also take a long time to turn through the wind when tacking.
The problems don't cease going downwind either. While the shortest distance to the leeward (downwind) mark would be a straight line, cats are very slow with the wind directly behind them. Therefore they usually 'tack' downwind too, zigzagging from one (fast) reach to another.
One more hazard with a catamaran is that it is very stable – but only up to a point. The widely spaced hulls make a stable platform to keep the yacht upright, unlike a conventional monohull, which will usually be seen heeling over in the wind. However, if a cat is pushed too far it will capsize, its masthead lying on the water and one hull up in the air. This is both dangerous and difficult to recover from.
Thus, the two yachts in this America's Cup were very different and were to be sailed in completely different manners. This was in stark contrast to the 12-Metre yachts which were closely matched and sailed very closely together. Conner was very much gambling on the shear speed of his yacht over KZ-1.
Michael Fay, though, did not like the terms of this gamble, afraid of the speed of the catamaran – and so, naturally rushed to the courts. He argued that the Deed states that the Cup should be competed for in 'similar' yachts, and that since he had challenged with a monohull, San Diego should respond with a monohull. However, in May 1988 the court again told the two teams to sort out their differences on the water – and not to take any more legal actions until after they had done so.
The regatta was a minimal, best-of-three and after all that fuss, Stars and Stripes won easily, 2-0, winning by margins of over 18 and 20 minutes.
Of course, that was not the end of the matter – there had to be further recourse to the law. In March 1989 a court agreed with Fay that it was not in the spirit of friendly competition between countries for there to be such a gross mis-match in the yachts, and the Cup was awarded to New Zealand. However, on appeal it was ruled that the Deed said nothing about the number of hulls, and that therefore San Diego had won the Cup fair-and-square, and they retained it.
Following this controversy over yacht designs it was decided to introduce a new class specifically for the Cup competitions, the International America's Cup Class (IACC). Like the 12-Metres, this class was based on a formula, linking the yacht's displacement (volume), length and sail area. Again, the objective was to ensure the yachts were of comparable performance while allowing for innovation.
The rules fixed the crew size at 17 – plus an additional 18th man. This was someone who plays no part in handling the yacht but is on it literally just for the ride. This is a chance for sponsors, potential sponsors and other VIPs to experience the racing close up. It does seem fair enough that if they are putting millions of dollars into the yacht, they should be able to join in the fun.
Sailing IACC yachts, San Diego won the Cup in 1992, with America3, skippered not by Dennis Conner but Bill Koch. They beat an Italian yacht, Il Moro di Venezia. In 1995, though, Conner was back representing San Diego, and in Young America he was defeated 5-0 by the New Zealand yacht, Black Magic, skippered by Russell Coutts.
So the 2003 America's and Louis Vuitton Cups moved to Auckland, New Zealand. Dennis Conner was to have taken part, and was preparing two yachts. However, while preparing one of them, USA 77, it sank off California, somewhat spoiling his chances. Nine teams entered the Louis Vuitton Cup, including three from the USA. BMW Oracle. Oracle made it to the final with the Swiss yacht, Alinghi.
Alinghi won the final 5-1 and so went on to compete with Team New Zealand for the America's Cup. Alinghi won that series 5-0, including two races from which the New Zealanders had to retire with gear failures. Alinghi was skippered by Russell Coutts and the joke at the time was that the New Zealanders sailing for Switzerland had defeated the New Zealanders sailing for New Zealand.
Switzerland was thus to host the 2007 America's Cup. There was one problem with this, though. The regatta must take place on the sea – and Switzerland is land-locked. Hosting rights were therefore put out to competitive tender and won by Valencia, Spain.
In Valencia Emirates Team New Zealand won the Louis Vuitton Cup and hence the right to challenge the holders. The defenders' yacht was again called Alinghi, although it was a newer development of the yacht. Alinghi was successful in its defence, so becoming the first non-US team to successfully defend the Cup.
Spain had had a yacht in the Louis Vuitton Cup that year, and, although they were unsuccessful in qualifying for the America's Cup, it seemed that they had enjoyed hosting the competition – to the extent that they decided to try to host it again, immediately, by issuing a Deed of Gift challenge to the Swiss. The challenge was issued by the Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV).
Naturally, being the America's Cup, there ensued a lot of court cases. CNEV was a new club, with no boats, no clubhouse and only four members, created for the sole purpose of challenging for the Cup. One of the cases was brought by the US Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), to the effect that the challenge from CNEV was invalid because it was not a real yacht club, it had never held an annual regatta, and that GGYC was the proper and legal challenger. This case was eventually won, so that the 33rd America's Cup was going to be between the American GGYC and the Swiss Société Nautique de Genève (SNG).
Where and when it was to take place was also contested in the courts, but eventually it was settled that it should be in Valencia in February 2010. The type of yacht to be used was also the subject of litigation. No one wanting the mis-match that had occurred in 1988, the eventual design was to be a catamaran, but one 90-feet long – the maximum allowed in the Deed of Gift.
Eventually Alinghi 5 lined up against BMW Oracle Racing, skippered by Australian James Spithill. Both yachts had some technical innovations. Although Alinghi 5 was 90-feet long at the waterline, it sported a bowsprit spar at the bows to which foresails could be attached, making its overall length about 120 feet. Controversially it also had an engine – used to power its winches, instead of the conventional muscle-power. Probably the most important innovation on BMW Oracle Racing was a wing mast, as used by Dennis Conner in his 1988 defence. Whether it was the mast that made the difference, BMW Oracle Racing seemed much the faster yacht. Furthermore, Alinghi 5 was hampered by tactical errors leading to them having to take penalties, so that the American yacht won the series 2-0.
After all this controversy and legal wrangling, in September 2010 a whole new format was established for the Cup, under the auspices of the independent America's Cup Race Management (ACRM). There were a number of radical changes, which were aimed to extend the sport and make it all together more exciting – including for spectators.
There was to be a new yacht, the AC72 – a 72-foot wing-mast catamaran. The racing was to be extended. No longer would there be just the Louis Vuitton and America's Cup regattas, in one location. Rather, they would be preceded by the America's Cup World Series. This was a sequence of regattas in different locations worldwide. The series would be raced in AC45s – essentially a smaller version of the AC72 catamarans. The World Series would be a set of fleet races as well as match races, and would act as a warm-up for the Louis Vuitton and America's Cup competitions.
Another innovation possible with the new AC72 catamarans was the possibility of them 'foiling' – and going even faster. One of the main restraints on the speed of any boat is the water resistance. There are various ways of reducing this. One of them is to reduce the area of the hull that is in contact with the water. One way of achieving that is for the boat to plane. If you see a speedboat with its bow pointing out of the water, that is it planing. Its hull is shaped such that once it has attained a certain speed, it lifts out of the water. Now only a very small portion of the hull is in contact with the water and hence the speed increases even more. This is not just for engine-powered speedboats, though: suitably designed sailing boats can also plane.
Even more effective than planing is the use of foils. Foils are like horizontal wings under the water. On an AC72 catamaran they are part of the daggerboards, which are like keels under each of the hulls, and the rudders – again one on each hull. The catamaran will sail in the conventional manner with its hulls in the water, but once it attains sufficient speed the foils create sufficient lift to raise the hulls right out of the water. Now there really is a minimal part of the yacht in contact with the water – and the yacht will sail even faster.
A whole new sailing technique comes into play. When there is sufficient wind and the yacht is sailing on a fast course (in relation to the wind) it rises up on to its foils and can gain a significant speed advantage.
In the lead-up to the 2013 America's Cup there were two World Series, in 2011-12 and 2012-13. The 2011-12 World Series comprised regattas in six different locations and the 2012-13 series visited three locations.
Meanwhile and elsewhere in the sailing world, Ben Ainslie had won gold in the 2012 London Olympics Finn class, making him the most successful Olympic sailor in history. In 2013 this was recognized by his award of a knighthood. He had won a silver in the Laser class in 1996 and then had won gold in each of the four subsequent Olympics, switching from the Laser class to the Finn class in 2004.
It is notable that both the Laser and Finn classes are for solo sailors. The 'skipper' is in charge of everything. They are small, unstable dinghies so that physical effort is crucial. In particular, the Finn is a more powerful boat so that keeping it upright in a wind requires much physical effort – and sheer mass. Ainslie had to put on 18 kg in weight when he made the switch of class to the Finn. Boat speed is critical, but tactics are also crucial – and all of those responsibilities fall to the one man in the boat.
Sailing is a very tactical sport. In an athletics race everyone runs around the same track so essentially whoever is fittest and best prepared on the day will run fastest and win. However, in sailing the only fixed points on the course are the buoys (or 'marks') which the yachts have to sail around; the route from one to the next is up to the helmsman. The shortest distance between the marks is not necessarily the quickest. The helmsman will always be looking for the best winds.
Given that the yachts will inevitably sail close to each other while taking different courses and will be in potential collision situations, there have to be rules about who has precedence. A sailor will make the most of those rules to get the advantage. If done correctly, for instance, it is perfectly legitimate, and good racing, to place your yacht in such a position that its sails interfere with the flow of wind onto its opponent's sails and slow them down, known as 'covering' the other boat. This can be decisive in any race, but even more so in a match race in which there is only one opponent.
Ben Ainslie's success in dinghies was due to his ability to make a boat go fast, his physical condition, but also to his formidable tactical ability. Looking for new challenges, in November 2012 Ainslie announced his retirement from Olympic sailing – and joined in the 2012-13 America's Cup World Series. His team was Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) sailing an AC45 lent to them by Oracle Team USA.
Scandal rocked the event when Oracle Team USA was found guilty of cheating in the way they had set up their yacht. Oracle Team USA withdrew from the World Series but also had a 2-point penalty applied to then in the forthcoming America's Cup competition. Since Ainslie's yacht was managed and maintained in the same way by the Oracle team it was also illegal and he also chose to withdraw.
After the World Series rules were all sorted out, Team New Zealand were declared winners of the 2011-12 series and Luna Rossa Piranha (Italy) won the 2012-13 series.
The 2013 Louis Vuitton and America's Cups took place in San Francisco Bay. This location gave the opportunity to provide good viewing for shore-based spectators. Electronics came into play to a much greater extent to the benefit both of television audiences and of race officials.
There was a new umpiring system, which relied on the ability to track the position of the yachts and marks to within 2 centimetres. There was also a constrained area within which the yachts had to race. This meant they would stay within a safe zone which was all visible to spectators. The umpires could observe the positions of the yachts in real time from a bird's eye view. The course limits and marks were available, too. The umpires could freeze-frame, rewind, and fast-forward the action back to real time, which gave them the facts right at their fingertips so they could swiftly make the right call. In the event of a rule infringement the yacht could be penalized on the water. The objective was that the first one to cross the line was the winner and there should be no hanging on after the race while a protest committee decided who had broken which rule and hence who had won the race.
Twelve clubs entered the Louis Vuitton Cup in San Francisco. However for one reason or another, only three made it through to the competition on the water. The eventual winner was Emirates Team New Zealand, led by Grant Dalton and skippered by Dean Barker. So the America's Cup competition was to be between them and Oracle Team USA, skippered by Jimmy Spithill.
The America's Cup was to be a best-of-9 competition and the first race took place on 7 September. Team New Zealand started very strongly, winning the first three races. Oracle won the fourth race, but because of the penalty applied to them in the World Series they scored zero, leaving the score at 3-0. New Zealand won again on 10 September, bringing the score to 4-0.
At this point there was a change in crew on Oracle. Tactician John Kostecki (a San Francisco local) was replaced by Sir Ben Ainslie – having been knighted in the 2013 New Year's Honours.
At first Ainslie's contribution was not apparent and New Zealand chalked up two more victories making it 6-0. In the race on 14 September, though, New Zealand came very close to capsizing, leaving Oracle to win the race. However, because of the second penalty point that had been awarded against them, the score remained at 6-0. At least the playing field was now level and any victories to Oracle would count. Sure enough, on 15 September they had a victory and one that would count.
There were two races that day. The second one showed the best of the new-look America's Cup. The lead changed hands four times in the 10 nautical mile race. The eventual winner was New Zealand – but only by 16 seconds: 7-1. Ben Ainslie stated, 'I can honestly say this is the most fun and exciting sailing I've been involved with,' and New Zealand's skipper, Dean Barker, suggested, 'If you didn't enjoy today's racing you should probably watch another sport.'
The next race was another close one, but also another victory for New Zealand, by just 15 seconds. This brought the score to 8-1. Since the winner would be the first to 9, the Kiwis appeared to be assured of victory and the Cup. Ainslie, Spithill and the team had other ideas, though. In the next race they won the start and spent long periods flying on their foils upwind, achieving speeds of 30-32 knots and going on to win by 32 seconds.
In race 12 it looked as if the New Zealanders would get their ninth and decisive victory. In light winds, they were leading and just a mile from the finish when the 40-minute time limit on the race expired and the race had to be abandoned.
In the restart, tactics and sheer boatspeed enabled Oracle to win, by a margin of 1 minute 24 seconds, the largest in the series. Now it was 8-3.
It was possible to sail two races on 22 September – and Oracle won both of them. The following day just one race was possible, and again Oracle were the winners. The gap had been narrowed to 8-6.
In the next race Oracle managed to force New Zealand into two rule violations – and hence two penalties – even before the start. While the Kiwis were performing their penalties Oracle was able to leap ahead and establish an unassailable lead. New Zealand clawed back some of the distance, but were nevertheless 27 seconds behind at the finish.
A second race was possible that day. Although New Zealand made a good start and took the lead, they then made some errors, so that Oracle were able to power past on their foils – and so to draw back to level-pegging on 8-8.
The next race would be the final decider. New Zealand made the better start and led for the first part of the race. Their lead was enhanced when Oracle made something of a nose-dive, dipping both bows in the water and nearly coming to a halt. In a fresh wind both yachts were making the most of their opportunities to foil, achieving speeds of up to 40 knots. However, somehow Oracle were able to make better use of their foiling speed, overtaking on the final upwind leg and holding on to their lead to the finish.
Oracle came back from 8-1 down to win the Cup. Sir Ben Ainslie was the first Briton on a winning America's Cup yacht.
Thereafter Sir Ben decided that it was time for a British Club to bring the Cup home. Ben Ainslie Racing was inaugurated in its headquarters in Portsmouth on June 10th 2014 in the presence of The Duchess of Cambridge. With major sponsorship from Land Rover, the team is known as Land Rover BAR. A year later they opened their team headquarters in Portsmouth. In 2015-17 they would represent the Royal Yacht Squadron, the club which originally lost the Cup, in 1851.
Their first challenge was the America's Cup World Series in 2015-16. Six teams were entered. As well as Land Rover BAR and the Golden Gate defenders (represented by BMW Team Oracle), there were teams from France, Japan, Sweden and New Zealand. Oracle was skippered by Jimmy Spithill, so now he was opposing his former team-mate, Sir Ben.
Racing took place in AC45F catamarans, which are developments of the AC45s, optimised for better foiling performance. There were nine two-day regattas in eight different locations, Portsmouth being used twice. The aim (weather permitting) was to hold three fleet races of all six yachts each day. Unlike previous World Series, the results counted, inasmuch as the winner of the series would carry 2 points into the subsequent Louis Vuitton Cup, and the second-placed team would have a 1-point start.
The scoring system for the America's Cup World Series was quite simple. Races on the Saturdays were worth 10 points for the winner, and then one point less for each subsequent finisher, down to 5 points for the sixth and last yacht. Points were doubled for the Sunday races: 20 points down to 10. Land Rover BAR won four of the regattas, making them overall winners with 512 points, with Oracle Team USA second, with 493 and Emirates New Zealand third on 485.
The Louis Vuitton Cup will take place in Bermuda, starting on 26 May and sailed in America's Cup Class (ACC) catamarans, slightly larger than the AC45Fs (around 50 feet in length) and the same class as will be used in the America's Cup. Whereas the AC45Fs were all essentially the same design, there is scope for more creativity and innovation in the designs of the ACCs. With improved designs and well-trained crews there is the possibility that rather than just foiling on the faster legs these yachts will foil all the way round the course.
The competition will be divided into two sections. Firstly, in the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers every yacht will match race against every other one twice in two round robins. The top four from that series will go on to the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Challenger Playoffs. This will be a best of 9 series, the winner to become the America's Cup Challenger.
The America's Cup will commence on 17 June in Bermuda. If the winner of the America's Cup Qualifiers has made it through to the America's Cup they will start with a 1-point advantage, and the first team to 7 points will be the winner.
It seems there is a good chance that the challenger will be Land Rover BAR. There seems a clear and genuine rivalry between him and his former skipper, Jimmy Spithill, but there is a real chance that Sir Ben will bring the Cup home for the first time in its 166-year history. We will know by 27 June at the latest.
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