Despite another day of light winds on Bermuda’s Great Sound, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers “burst back into action” today to catch up on the race schedule postponed due to light winds yesterday.
According to the AC website, Softbank Team Japan “gained a much needed victory as they overcame fellow strugglers Groupama Team France”.
“The Japanese team made the better start, increasing their lead when their French opponents suffered a slight nosedive early on in the run up to mark 1.
“Land Rover BARs first outing in race 5 proved a forgettable one for Sir Ben Ainslie’s team, as they were soundly beaten by the impressive Emirates Team New Zealand.
“Having taken a welcome win over Artemis Racing on Tuesday, the British team were unable to build on the momentum of what had been only their second victory in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers. They were overtaken by their rivals in the lead to mark 1 and, from that point, were unable to close the gap to the Kiwis.
“Emirates Team New Zealand were problem-free, sailing off into the distance with their lead reaching a massive six minutes and 25 seconds on the fourth leg, a full lap ahead of their British opponents.
“With Land Rover BAR still out on the race course, Emirates Team New Zealand crossed the finish line, leaving Sir Ben Ainslie to concede defeat over the radio to the umpires, confirming that his team were retiring from the race. In the post-race press conference, Sir Ben said that, to the best of his knowledge, that was the very first time he had retired from a race of his own volition.
“Oracle Team USA once again showed their pedigree in race 6, as they denied Softbank Team Japan a second win on the day, beating the Japanese team by 32 seconds.
“The Defenders of the ‘Auld Mug’ had to do it the hard way however, after being handed a penalty in the pre-start sequence for not entering the entry box in time, allowing their opponents to take a healthy lead which they maintained for the first four gates.
“However, despite the initial setback, Oracle Team USA remained in pursuit of Softbank Team Japan, cutting the deficit on every passing leg.
“The pressure finally told at gate 5 as the American team not only cut the lead completely but also passed their rivals, building to a 35 second lead in the closing stages.
“It was an advantage they did not relinquish, crossing the finish line 32 seconds ahead of Softbank Team Japan as they maintained their position at the top of the standings, moving on to seven points.
“Despite already having their passage through to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoff Semi-Finals assured as the Defenders of the ‘Auld Mug’, Oracle Team USA helmsman Jimmy Spithill reiterated his desire to win these qualifying stages with a possible valuable point on offer to take into the 35th America’s Cup Match presented by Louis Vuitton.
“The final race of the day, race 7, proved the closest encounter with Land Rover BAR claiming a very slender victory over Groupama Team France.
“Having suffered defeat to Emirates Team New Zealand in race 5, Sir Ben Ainslies’s team were handed an early advantage, as the French team were handed a penalty in the pre-start sequence.
“However, with light winds remaining over the race course, victory never looked assured for Land Rover BAR and the lead changed hands multiple times throughout the race.” But “there was real drama as the teams headed for the finish line neck and neck.
“In the end it was the Brits who ultimately prevailed, crossing the finish line narrowly ahead of their rivals to claim a victory which takes them on to five points, ensuring their progression into the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoff Semi-Finals.
“While Land Rover BAR have secured their progression through to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoff Semi-Finals, Groupama Team France in contrast, remain precariously on a knife edge, needing to win both of their remaining Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers races to stand a chance of progression.”
At the end of the day, here’s the AC Qualifiers Round Robin 2 race results:
- Race 4: SoftBank Team Japan beat Groupama Team France (Groupama team France DNF)
- Race 5: Emirates Team New Zealand beat Land Rover BAR (Land Rover BAR retired)
- Race 6: Oracle Team USA beat SoftBank Team Japan by 32 seconds
- Race 7: Land Rover BAR beat Groupama Team France by 23 seconds