Team New Zealand Sail a Clean Penultimate Day of Qualifiers

Jun 04, 2017, 05:53
Team New Zealand Sail a Clean Penultimate Day of Qualifiers

An announcement today by the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA) and America's Cup Race Management (ACRM) confirmed that the four scheduled Round Robin 2 Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers races planned today would have to wait until tomorrow.

In this photo provided by the America's Cup Event Authority, Great Britain's Land Rover BAR crewmen compete against Groupama Team France (not shown) during America's Cup qualifying on the Great Sound in Bermuda on Thursday, June 1, 2017.

Emirates Team New Zealand yesterday snared the top challenger ranking with convincing wins over Dean Barker's Softbank Team Japan and French team Groupama, but must now consider who they prefer to meet at the next stage.

The New Zealand choice leaves Sweden's Artemis Racing and SoftBank Team Japan as the other head-to-head semi-final.

BAR beat Team Japan by 13 seconds while the Swedish syndicate crushed the already-eliminated Team France by more than two minutes.

Oracle punctured Team Zealands hopes of winning the qualifiers to claim the one-point advantage heading into the first-to-seven series, which starts in two weeks. Oracle came into these qualifiers with a one-point bonus for finishing second in the ACWS.

A couple of uncharacteristic errors from New Zealand meant they were unable to get ahead of Spithill's 50-foot (15 metre) catamaran and were beaten easily. "You just look at the performance numbers we do every day we get quicker and quicker".

It was a lead Peter Burling and his team would not relinquish, sailing magnificently and staying up on their foils for an incredible 99.6% of the whole race, finally easing over the finish line 51 seconds ahead of their Japanese rivals.

The Kiwis struggled to match the aggressive approach of Team USA skipper James Spithill, committing three penalties which cost a total of six boat lengths.

The American-backed crew, which includes Australians Spithill and Slingsby, will now train on its own while the challengers sail their semifinals, which start Sunday, and finals.

The six teams race each other twice in the head-to-head match race format, with a point for the victor.

Earlier, Barker and Team Japan took an important step towards avoiding extinction, with a comprehensive win over France.

If he can beat them to become challenger, he will not only have earned himself a chance for revenge but an opportunity for SoftBank to fulfil Japan's ambitions to win the "Auld Mug". The French skipper Franck Cammas said in a televised interview that he was not yet sure whether Groupama would be supporting them for another tilt at the America's Cup.

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