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

Posted May 30, 2017

Sweden's Artemis Racing go into the 35th America's Cup as one of the strongest challengers for global sport's oldest trophy, after showing impressive speed in the build-up.

Turns out their protestations were spot on.

The Oracle Racing AC45 catamaran skipped by James Spithill competes in the America's Cup World Series in Cascais, Portugal in August 2011. Due to the way the rotation works, Aussie Ky Hurst sailed the last two races.

"We had too many mistakes against the French team in our first race and made life hard for ourselves".

In their subsequent review they felt that they were wrong and the Swedes had, indeed, done enough to give the Kiwis the necessary space.

"We were fortunate to come away with it in the end".

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Also taking part in the competition in Bermuda are teams from Sweden, New Zealand, Japan and France, who will all be sailing at up to 60mph. Traveling alongside it at 50 knots (92 kph) in a RIB (effectively an inflatable speedboat), you hold on tight, the base of the boat shuddering vigorously as it speeds along.

"We thought it was pretty tight, but we were happy with the outcome", Burling added. 'You get yourself into a tight situation and you've got to dig yourself out of it.

It was one of the most exciting America's Cup races in years.

However, this staging of the America's Cup was expected to be more unpredictable than ever, and so it proved in a dramatic fifth leg as as incredible change of events saw the Swedish team move ahead. "No disrespect to Franck, but I think Artemis is a team that the bookies would have had odds-on to win that race, and Franck and the guys just sailed better". They face off again in the opening race of the second round robin on Tuesday.

Land Rover BAR went 1-1 Saturday.

In the first race, the British team was slightly faster than Artemis Racing from the start and built an impressive lead over Artemis Racing.

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After the first day of round-robin qualifiers Team USA were tied atop the standings with Britain's Land Rover BAR, both on three points.

It leaves the British boat with just one win from five races at the halfway stage of the qualifying regatta, from which only four of five challenger boats will progress. Land Rover BAR have two points from their World Series first-place finish and one win in the Qualifiers.

Ainslie's crew - including Rio 2016 Team GB gold medallist Giles Scott - are now tied at the top of the qualifiers series rankings, thanks to their win over Sweden and two-points from last year's America's Cup World Series.

The victor will then face Oracle, who are racing in the preliminaries, but whose place in the final, due to start around the middle of June, is assured as the defending champions. I have reviewed tape of these teams practice racing.

The Kiwis are looking for redemption after blowing an 8-1 lead on match point in the 2013 match, when Oracle Team USA won eight straight races to retain the Auld Mug.

Sweden dangled the carrot in front of Peter Burling, but the Team NZ skipper wasn't falling for it.

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But they were lucky that they didn't take the boat or some of the Japanese team with them, such was the velocity the two boats were travelling at during the race.