© ACEA 2017 / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget
An epic day of racing unfolded on the Great Sound in Bermuda for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Playoff Semi-finals as Land Rover BAR faced off against Emirates Team New Zealand.
While Nathan Outteridge’s team on Artemis Racing found their boat unable to deal with conditions that saw winds nearing the 24-knot limit, dropping both their races to Dean Barker’s SoftBank Team Japan, the biggest talking point of the day was Emirates Team New Zealand’s capsize.
The first race got underway after a slight delay waiting for the wind to drop below the 24 knots average limit. Emirates Team New Zealand only just made the start after damage sustained to their wing after docking out. It was panning out to be a full on day with both teams sailing at the limits hitting speeds in excess of 45 knots.
The British team won the start and led Emirates Team New Zealand for five of the nine leg race, before getting low on oil which enabled Emirates Team New Zealand to take the lead, as Sailing Team Manager Jono Macbeth explained:
“These boats are so physical up until now we have been racing a five or six leg course, today was a nine legger. It is unbelieveable how much energy is required to get around these courses, unfortunately for us we got low on oil at a critical time, so our manouvres weren’t as crisp as they have could been.”
In the second race Ben Ainslie and his British team again won the start, before Emirates Team New Zealand suffered a dramatic capsize on the first reach, with the race subsequently being awarded to Land Rover BAR.
Ben Ainslie, Skipper and Team Principal: “The most important thing is that everyone is okay on Emirates Team New Zealand after their capsize. I think all four teams out there showed great seamanship to deal with these boats in these conditions. It was absolutely full on. We look forward to seeing them back on the race course.”
“It was unbelievable racing in gusts up to 27-28 knots. Certainly, in 30 years of racing boats, it was the most full-on, exhilarating moment I’ve ever had. It was incredible out there.
“I liken it to skiing on ice. No holds barred; if you start to slow up and play it safe that’s when it is worse. When you sail these boats fast it is very rewarding, but in conditions like today sometimes it is not possible. Days like today it is the ultimate team sport.”
“Firstly, and the most important thing for us, is that all the guys on board are safe and with no major injuries,” said Emirates Team New Zealand’s Peter Burling. “It is definitely a relief when you see them falling off that you can look back and see their heads above water and that they’re all fine.
“We sustained quite a bit of damage to the boat but the shore guys are assessing the damage and we feel we will be able to repair it and get back out and into the action.”
Semi Final 1
Land Rover BAR – 1
Emirates Team New Zealand – 3
Semi Final 2
Softbank Team Japan – 3
Artemis Racing – 1
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