US beats Kiwis on opening day of America's Cup qualifiers

Adjust Comment Print

Six teams are involved in a week of head-to-head racing after which defending champions Oracle Team USA will progress straight to the America's Cup match and four others will advance to the play-off semi-finals and finals for the right to take them on. Groupama Team France is led by Frenchman Franck Cammas.

Land Rover Bar now face a race against the clock to get the boat repaired in time for more qualifiers on Sunday. A point is awarded for a win and the overall victor gets a bonus point that they take into the America's Cup itself, while the crew with the lowest score is eliminated from the competition.

In Monday's other races, New Zealand beat Artemis in the most closely-contested duel of the event and Japan dominated France after a text-book start by skipper Dean Barker.

This is the first time the defender has sailed against challengers in the preliminaries.

The British syndicate came into the qualifiers with two bonus points from the America's Cup World Series, from which Team USA brought one point. However, despite the lapse in concentration and having to start two boat lengths behind the British team, the incident didn't prove disastrous as they bounced back spectacularly.

There were doubts over whether Ainslie would be able to race at all after he holed his catamaran "Rita" in a clash with SoftBank Team Japan during the opening day of the qualifying races.

What is the America's Cup?
One challenger will be eliminated and the remaining teams will sail their semifinals and finals while Oracle trains on its own.

In the afternoon's first race, ORACLE TEAM USA, made a solid start to the competition, enjoying a commanding victory over Groupama Team France.

The Japanese team lost some of that momentum with a nosedive going into the third gate but they managed to recover brilliantly to build a 13 second advantage at gate 4. We've waited over two years for this. "It's good for the mind, it's good for the maturation for the next days". "We're even more obsessed with this". It swapped out two of the workhorse grinders per race.

No sooner had the adrenaline ebbed, then the team were back into the fray with a race against SoftBank Japan. "The guys are in great shape, so it's not really an issue in terms of the physical side for the guys".

In 'Above and Beyond', fans get to witness a gym session, become immersed in water as the racing yacht flies above them, and get driven around by Ainslie himself in a Land Rover Discovery.

Helmsman Peter Burling had the race under control from the pre-start entering on starboard and waiting for his chance to pounce. Oracle got close, but Artemis played the shifts for a big win. "The design has changed the sport to such an extent that Oracle Skipper Jimmy Spithill obtained a private pilot's licence to help him handle his boat when airborne".

"When you look at the conditions, it's no surprise at all that either team could have been a long way ahead", he said.

"It was actually a great effort by the team to get the boat around the track in the state that it was". "We will approach every race trying to win".

It is an innovation crew member David "Freddie" Carr says "could truly be a race victor for us".

The French crew, who were also convincingly defeated by Emirates Team New Zealand during their second race, appeared to struggle to keep their boat on its foils during some manoeuvres, with their hulls occasionally plunging dramatically into the crystal blue waters, slowing them down against their rivals.