The first phase of America's Cup racing came to a close on the weekend, with British team Ben Ainslie Racing taking out the 2015/16 World Series title.

What does this mean for the next stage of the competition? Probably very little.

The America's Cup World Series, which is sailed in one-design foiling AC45 catamarans, is a sailing competition. The America's Cup proper is a test of boat design, construction, campaign planning and sailing skill.

From here on in the rest of racing will take place in the 50ft America's Cup race boats, which are designed in-house (except in the case of Team Japan, which picked up their design package from the defenders).


While the bonus points collected by Ben Ainslie Racing (2) and Oracle (1) are undoubtedly a handy boost heading into next year's America's Cup qualifiers, in reality they will be of little help if they have a slow boat.

No one is expecting Oracle to be slow. The reports coming from their testing base in Bermuda are the defenders are looking exceptionally quick. That means Team Japan are also fast.

The reports of the Brits' progress have been more mixed. Land Rover BAR has launched four test boats in the past two years - one of which sustained serious damage when it capsized in December 2015. Veteran sailor and America's Cup commentator Ken Read said at the weekend the British test boat looked "skittish".

Emirates Team New Zealand meanwhile are attempting to keep their heads down and try not to attract the same level of attention as they did ahead of the 2013 event.

The Kiwi syndicate were slow out of the blocks, only launching their test boat in July this year, but they appear to have done a solid job of playing catch-up on the water. Video footage from the camp would suggest they have quickly been able to achieve stable and continuous flight upwind, which is believed to be the key battleground in this edition of the Cup.

While the Kiwi team would have been keen to carry some bonus points into next year, they will be pleased to see the World Series circuit, which proved an on-going distraction, come to a close.

Team New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby said the next six months shape up as the most crucial in the campaign.

"The exciting thing for us now is we have a clear runway to focus entirely on our testing and development programme back in New Zealand for the main event next year, in the races that count. We have the sailors, the designers, the shore team to win the America's Cup and now we just have to push for the final sprint."

The earliest date syndicates can launch their race boats is December 27. It is understood Team New Zealand will are looking at an early January launch date, leaving them with a short training block in Auckland before they have to pack up and ship their operations to Bermuda ahead of the May regatta.

Key dates:
December 27 The earliest date in which teams can launch their America's Cup race boats for next year's regatta
May 26 - June 7 America's Cup qualifiers (featuring all six syndicates, including defenders Oracle)
June 7 - 12 America's Cup play-offs (featuring the the top 4 challengers)
June 17 - 27 35th America's Cup match (Oracle v winner of challenger series)