Jono Macbeth, the Land Rover BAR sailing team manager, is pleased with the progress that the British challenger has made since its launch nearly two years ago.

However, the three-times America’s Cup winner acknowledges there is still plenty of work to be done as Land Rover BAR step up their bid to achieve what no other British team has so far — win the prestigious “auld Mug”.

“We’re very happy with progress both for the sailing team, and on the design and construction side,” said Macbeth, who won the America’s Cup with BMW Oracle Racing and successfully defended it with both Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA. “There are many areas to work on and we are pushing ahead on all fronts.”

Land Rover BAR was launched in June 2014 and has made considerable strides since.

“We’re learning a lot and growing as a team,” Macbeth said. “Since we launched the team has achieved an enormous amount; launched our second testing boat, moved into our new team base in Portsmouth, won the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event in our home town and signed major commercial partners including Land Rover, BT and CMC Markets,”

This year will be an even busier year for the team as they build-up to the America’s Cup to be held in Bermuda next summer.

“It’s probably the most important year of this Cup cycle as we will be launching our race boat, ‘R1’, in Bermuda at the end of 2016,” Macbeth said.

Land Rover BAR are fresh off another training exercise in the Great Sound, the venue for the 35th America’s Cup.

“The sailing team has recently been in Bermuda; we want to keep familiarising ourselves with the racecourse, the island and its wonderful people,” Macbeth said.

After returning to their base in Portsmouth the team resumed training in their second test boat, which capsized off the Isle of Wight in 15 to 19 knots of wind, during a similar exercise in December last year.

Damage to the team’s second AC45S test boat, referred to as T2, was sustained to a section of the wing while none of the crew were injured.

Land Rover BAR are third on the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series leaderboard and will look to make further inroads on the teams above when the two-year racing circuit resumes in Oman this month.

Featuring all of the America’s Cup teams, the series is an opportunity to earn points that will count towards the America’s Cup qualifiers and play-offs, which will determine who competes against defender Oracle Team USA.

“It’s important, but we also have to bear in mind that the goal is to win the America’s Cup, and there are some fundamental differences between sailing in the AC45 and the ACC [America’s Cup Class],” Macbeth said.

“But, we are very much looking forward to getting back out on the racecourse later this month.”

This month’s World Series in Oman will be held on February 27 and 28.

Emirates Team New Zealand are the World Series leaders.

n Emirates Team New Zealand sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are the 49er World Champions for the fourth consecutive year.

The Kiwis successfully defended their title in convincing fashion in Clearwater, Florida, at the weekend and remain unbeaten in 24 consecutive regattas in the 49er class.

Niko Delle Karth and Niko Resch, of Austria, won the silver medal while Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign, of Britain, clinched the bronze after winning the medal race.

n Oracle Team USA christened their third AC45S test boat at the team’s Dockyard base yesterday.

Christened as “Oracle 17”, the America’s Cup defender’s latest wing-sail foiling catamaran was hoisted into the water for the first time since its arrival from New Zealand in November last year.

Oracle plan to sail the boat for the first time in the next suitable weather window.

“There is a big step up with this boat in terms of the systems we are developing and now testing in real world use,” Scott Ferguson, the Oracle design coordinator, said.

The new 50-foot America’s Cup class boats that the teams must design, build and race for 2017 must be entirely manually powered.

Oracle’s first two AC45S boats had partially powered systems to test various components.

However, since returning from the Christmas break the crew has been sailing boat two in manual mode while Oracle’s first boat has gone to SoftBank Team Japan.

The systems on Oracle’s third boat represent another step-up in efficiency and effectiveness, according to Grant Simmer, the team’s general manager.

“We think we will see a significant jump in performance with this boat,” he said. “The systems we are testing now will translate directly into the design of the America’s Cup boat we race in 2017.”

Oracle’s designers are keeping an eye on the calendar with design deadlines for various components fast approaching.

“The design lock-in dates for the first America’s Cup class boat are staggered to a certain extent,” Simmer said. “But we are coming up to the time when we need to make some hard decisions.”

This story appeared in the Royal Gazette on February 16th, 2016.

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