Brits, Kiwis advance to next round in America's Cup prelims

Calvin Saunders
June 4, 2017

In this photo provided by the America's Cup Event Authority, Oracle Team USA competes against SoftBank Team Japan (not shown) during America's Cup qualifying on the Great Sound in Bermuda on Thursday, June 1, 2017.

Unlike Britain's Land Rover BAR and Groupama Team France who built their own boats from scratch, Japan bought their design from the US holders of the cup.

Both crews reached speeds of more than 40 knots as they screeched around the natural race course, with the New Zealand team putting their revolutionary "cycling" sailors to work to provide the power needed to drive the boat's hydraulics.

And their decision, announced at today's post-race press conference in Bermuda, leaves Dean Barker and Team Japan to face in-form Artemis Racing (Sweden) in the other semi-final, starting Monday [NZT].

The normally crack Kiwi crew was penalized twice, including at the start when it forced Oracle, the right-of-way boat, to bear away as the 50-foot catamarans jockeyed for position at the line.

Victory for Emirates Team New Zealand, their second during Friday's racing, put them ahead of the USA defending champions in the qualifying races.

The other two semi-finalists will be Artemis Racing and Softbank Team Japan.

The two teams have a huge showdown Saturday, the final day of round robin two.

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The holders now have to sit on the sidelines until June 17 when they will defend the cup against one of the challengers.

Oracle started that series down two points after being penalized for the biggest cheating scandal in America's Cup history.

Oracle seized control at the start, forcing Burling into a penalty, and while the Kiwis pegged their opponents back, briefly taking the lead, two more penalties followed to end their chances.

"It's going to be a close race and to win the America's Cup you've got to beat the best teams", said Ainslie, ahead of the first of potentially nine races on Sunday. It's the first time a bonus point has been awarded for the match.

But a disastrous gybe from Land Rover BAR saw the boat nosedive and turn sharply to send Emirates surging clear, with a half-length lead turning into a 350-meter gap within moments.

Remaining calm, particularly following a slight nosedive on leg 5, Artemis Racing recovered quickly to cross the finish line 24 seconds ahead of Oracle Team USA, taking them on to three points in the standings. The American-based team, owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, made it onto the course but lost to Artemis by 24 seconds.

The Kiwis seemed to handle the conditions better than most and nearly lapped the hapless British, who started the day as Team New Zealand's closest defender rivals.

Franck Cammas and his French team have only two points in the head-to-head contest, after losing six of their eight races.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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