Sports

Brits, Kiwis advance to next round in America's Cup prelims

Brits, Kiwis advance to next round in America's Cup prelims

A double race day in Bermuda for Emirates Team New Zealand, the Kiwis taking on Softbank Team Japan and Groupama Team France on the penultimate day of racing in the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers.

But even if the French crew win that race, an inferior track record in the pre-event series means they can not beat the other crews seeking to challenge Oracle Team USA.

Team NZ still finish first among the challengers, giving them the right to choose their opponents for the best-of-nine semi-final phase.

"We suffered a technical issue with the systems controlling our daggerboard against New Zealand but the guys did brilliantly to fix the issue ahead of the second race with Groupama Team France".

The race on Saturday local time (shortly after 5am Sunday in NZ) was full of drama from the start as Team New Zealand tried to out-muscle Oracle.

New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling said his crew had chosen Ben Ainslie's team because they considered conditions forecast for the coming days would favour them over the British crew.

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Groupama Team France, who as late challengers for the America's Cup were always regarded as the underdogs, lost by a huge margin to Emirates Team New Zealand.

Team USA are hoping that translates to a third straight victory in the America's Cup and that Friday's defeat was just a blip on the radar.

As such, they will take a bonus point with them into the best-of-13 Cup Match, effectively the regatta final, later in the month.

The Kiwis' task was made harder as they were handed a penalty as a result of the pre-start fight which allowed Oracle Team USA to build a slight lead by the gate 2 turn.

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.

In one of the many radical departures from tradition, this is the first time the defender has sailed against challengers in the preliminaries. That helped kill the drama in a rematch of the teams that met in the epic 2013 America's Cup match.

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"It'll be a real battle but we are up for it and looking forward to it".

A poor tack cost Dean Barker's Japan more time and New Zealand were never threatened, winning by 51 seconds in a race that saw them up on their hydrofoils for 99.6 percent of the distance.

It's back to the drawing board for Team New Zealand.

Such early difficulties experienced by Land Rover BAR in these qualifiers could, however, be transformed into one of the finest victories Ainslie has achieved in his glorious career. The Swedes will now meet Team Japan in the semi-finals.

"There is still a long way for us to go and so unfortunately there will be no party for us tonight".

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The 31-year-old is known for his ability to making quick work of his opponents with his strong combinations. He won a few rounds, I won a few rounds, I felt I was in the fight.


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