‘First Thursday’ sets the scene for a spectacular Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series

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Ian Roman

The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, Portsmouth got off to a sparkling start on ‘First Thursday’ July 23.

It was the first day that America’s Cup challengers have lined up against each other on the Solent since the very first race for the famous ‘100 Guineas’ trophy was held, with a race around the Isle of Wight in front of Queen Victoria back in 1851.

Then, Queen Victoria was famously told “Your Majesty, there is no second.” The six competitors preparing for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series UK kept that tradition alive as they showed off their competitive side with informal practice racing, flying the foiling AC45s high along the racecourse area, just metres off the shore.

Earlier in the morning, the famous 164-year-old ‘Auld Mug’ was displayed in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which is also home to the six America’s Cup teams for the event. The spectacular trophy was transported on a Royal Marines amphibious landing craft, before being brought ashore to a waiting fleet of convertible BMW cars.

Accompanied by Dr Harvey Schiller, Commercial Commissioner for the 35th America’s Cup, and Sir Keith Mills, Chairman for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth, it was paraded through the crowds along the seafront to the Fanzone Arena.

After the Cup’s parade it was the turn of the AC45s, with the Official Parade of Sail. Escorted by HMS St Albans, a Type 23 frigate and guardship for the AC45 fleet in Portsmouth, the six AC45s sailed along the packed shore, with crowds lining every vantage point to watch the six Challengers for the 35th America’s Cup sailing together for the first time. Each team performed a flyby, demonstrating how the AC45F’s ‘foil’ high above the water, and enjoyed some informal practice racing to give the audience a taste of the weekend’s competitive action.

Today will see the six foiling AC45Fs lining up for Official Practice races. With just one more day before the point-scoring races begin on Saturday, July 25, every team will be competing to the max.

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