Sensational Super Sunday caps first ever Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman

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Sensational racing set to a backdrop of Oman’s stunning coastline rounded off the inaugural Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman today as Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR team snatched victory.

The first ever America’s Cup event to be held in the Middle East was hailed a storming success by sailors and spectators alike following two days of intense battle in Muscat.

The world’s media descended on the Omani capital for the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event of 2016 and expectations were high for an exciting event.

The arrival in Oman on Thursday of the America’s Cup trophy, sailing’s oldest prize, was marked with a grand welcoming ceremony at Muscat International Airport attended by a host of dignitaries including Her Excellency Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Under-Secretary of Ministry of Tourism and Chairwoman of Oman Sail.

It is the first time the trophy, also known as the ‘Auld Mug’, has ever visited the Middle East in the 165-year history of the America’s Cup.

And after two days of nail-biting action under Muscat’s blue skies that saw Land Rover BAR claim a dramatic last-minute victory, the first ever Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman was given a resounding thumbs up.

Sir Ben Ainslie praised Oman as a world-class venue and also commended Oman Sail’s work to reignite the country’s maritime heritage and inspire youngsters to take up the sport.

“We’ve had a great weekend of racing here in Oman – it’s always a pleasure to come here,” said four-time Olympic gold medallist Ainslie.

“There is such fantastic support for sailing and in particular youth sailing to get youngsters out on the water.

“Conditions have been great for racing and to bring the America’s Cup here is very special for the event and for Oman.

“It was tricky racing in the light winds but it actually proved for really exciting competition.

“There was a lot of place-changing that you might not get in stronger winds. It was a whole new challenge for the sailors to deal with.

“I love Oman – I’ve been here twice now and it’s a great country. Muscat has proved to be a fantastic venue for the America’s Cup and hopefully we can come back again soon.”

Glenn Ashby, skipper of overall series leaders Emirates Team New Zealand, was in agreement with his rival as to the top-notch sailing Muscat dealt out.

“It was fantastic sailing today and yesterday here in Oman,” he added. “We had some tricky, shifty breeze and the racing was really close.

“As a team we’ve really enjoyed coming here to Oman – the racing has been brilliant, and so has the hospitality. We’ve had a great time and hopefully we’ll be back here again in the future.”

Land Rover BAR went into the second of two days of racing on top following a dominant display yesterday where they won two of the three races in light airs.

A slightly stronger breeze of around 10 knots greeted the teams today on what was dubbed ‘Super Sunday’ because of the double points on offer.

A slow start from Ainslie’s crew allowed Emirates Team New Zealand to rocket ahead and extend their lead all the way to the finish line to claim the first race win of the day.

Canny tactics saw Land Rover BAR scrap back into second place ahead of Dean Barker’s SoftBank Team Japan.

Desperate to avenge a fifth-place finish in race 1, Jimmy Spithill’s ORACLE TEAM USA flew out of the starting blocks in race 2 as the teams traded blows in front of crowds of spectators.

They saw off a late challenge from Groupama Team France, with Adam Minoprio at the helm in place of injured skipper Franck Cammas, to pick up maximum points.

With ORACLE TEAM USA getting an early jump on the fleet in the sixth and final race of the ACWS Oman it looked all over for Ainslie’s men when they were penalised at the start along with Artemis.

But the Brits fought back thanks to some bold calls by tactician Giles Scott to finish the race in third behind Groupama Team France and ORACLE TEAM USA.

The result handed the first ever ACWS Oman title to Land Rover BAR by just two points.

Their spectacular win makes them the first team to win two ACWS events, having won in Portsmouth, UK, last year.

It also puts them just one point behind second-placed ORACLE TEAM USA on the overall ACWS leaderboard.

Emirates Team New Zealand continue to lead the series by six points going into the next round in New York in May.

Provisional Results:
Race 1 – Saturday

Emirates Team NZ – 10 points
ORACLE TEAM USA – 9 points
Land Rover BAR – 8 points
Artemis Racing – 7 points
SoftBank Team Japan – 6 points
Groupama Team France – 5 points

Race 2 – Saturday

Land Rover BAR – 10 points
SoftBank Team Japan – 9 points
Groupama Team France – 8 points
Emirates Team New Zealand – 7 points
ORACLE TEAM USA – 6 points
Artemis Racing – 5 points

Race 3 – Saturday

Land Rover BAR – 10 points
ORACLE TEAM USA – 9 points
Artemis Racing – 8 points
Groupama Team France – 7 points
SoftBank Team Japan – 6 points
Emirates Team New Zealand – 5 points

Race 4 – Sunday

Emirates Team New Zealand – 20 points
Land Rover BAR – 18 points
SoftBank Team Japan – 16 points
Artemis Racing – 14 points
ORACLE TEAM USA – 12 points
Groupama Team France – 10 points

Race 5 – Sunday

ORACLE TEAM USA – 20 points
Groupama Team France – 18
Emirates Team New Zealand – 16
Land Rover BAR – 14
Artemis Racing – 12
SoftBank Team Japan – 10

Race 6 – Sunday

Groupama Team France – 20 points
ORACLE TEAM USA – 18 points
Land Rover BAR – 16 points
SoftBank Team Japan – 14 points
Emirates Team New Zealand – 12 points
Artemis Racing – 10 points

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman overall results:

Land Rover BAR – 8, 10, 10, 18, 14, 16 – 76 points
ORACLE TEAM USA – 9, 6, 9, 12, 20, 18 – 74 points
Emirates Team NZ – 10, 7, 5, 20, 16, 12 – 70 points
Groupama Team France – 5, 8, 7, 10, 18, 20 – 68 points
SoftBank Team Japan – 6, 9, 6, 16, 10, 14 – 61 points
Artemis Racing – 7, 5, 8, 14, 12, 10 – 56 points

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series overall results:

Emirates Team New Zealand – 192
Land Rover BAR – 185
SoftBank Team Japan – 161
Artemis Racing – 161
Groupama Team France – 150

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