On Friday 24th July 2015, I together with six other disabled sailors from various Sailability groups throughout the South East, had the opportunity to attend the ACWS event in Portsmouth, as guests of Haven Knox-Johnston and the Haven Academy.
During the morning, we met Sir Robin Knox-Johnston at the British Land Rover BAR headquarters in Portsmouth, for a tour around the ground floor workshop. The building which is purpose built is very impressive, but to see the British Land Rover BAR AC45F foiling catamaran up close was amazing.
We heard from a number of the British Land Rover BAR team about the British challenge for the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda. In addition, we were given an insight into the science of foiling and the technical challenges involved in making the foils and the wing on these amazing craft more efficient.
Following the tour, we together with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston transferred to the VIP waterfront pavilion, Britannia club house, where we had a buffet lunch prior to watching the practice races.
In 2013, I watched the America’s Cup on television and was staggered by what I saw. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day that I would have the opportunity of watching not one but six of these incredible craft sailing and racing against each other.
After the racing had finished, Frank Cammas, Dean Barker and Sir Ben Ainslie came to the Britannia club house to talk about the day’s sailing and their respective team’s preparation for the ACWS.
All of us had a truly amazing day at the ACWS event in Portsmouth, and the icing on the cake was to see the America’s Cup trophy and have my photograph taken next to it.
As we were leaving the Britannia club, we were invited by a member of the Swedish Artemis Racing team to enter their VIP lounge to meet their team manager and tactician Iain Percy. He and the other members of Artemis Racing were very interested to meet us and wanted to know all about Sailability, the boats that we sailed and our sailing experiences.
Despite the weather, I had an amazing day. Having seen the British Land Rover BAR headquarters, heard from a number of the team members about the technical challenges involved, it seems clear that Sir Ben Ainslie and all of the team are determined to go on to win the challenger playoffs and to meet and beat the current defending champion, Oracle Team USA in the 35th America’s Cup match in 2017. After so many years, it is time that the cup should come back to where it belongs.
Finally, I would like to thank Wealden Sailability, the RYA and Haven Knox-Johnston for such a memorable day. I have never been to such an event before, and will cherish the memories for a very long time.