ETNZ book their ticket to the playoff final, Artemis & Japan battle will last another day
One battle ends while another intensifies
Sir Ben Ainslie and Land Rover BAR’s quest to win the 35th America’s Cup came to an early end on Thursday in Bermuda when Peter Burling and Emirates Team New Zealand sealed the British team’s fate by reaching the magic five wins needed to progress to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs Finals.
In the other Semi-Final, Nathan Outteridge and Artemis Racing mounted an almighty comeback against their Japanese rivals, Dean Barker’s SoftBank Team Japan, winning three races on the trot to take the score in their Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs Semi-Finals to 4-3.
For Ainslie and his team, they were ultimately beaten by Emirates Team New Zealand twice on Thursday, sealing their fate 5-2 and leaving them heading back to Britain without the America’s Cup they were so determined to take home.
For Burling and his crew, the incredible efforts the team made from Tuesday to Thursday to repair the boat that was so badly damaged in Tuesday’s pitchpole were repaid handsomely, putting themselves into the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs Finals as the first team to reach that stage.
Heading into the first race of the afternoon (Semi-Final 1 Race 5) trailing 3-1, Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR knew they had to win at least two of today’s scheduled three races over Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand to keep their Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs Final hopes alive.
Ainslie and his team’s chances looked good in the early stages of their first encounter, as their rivals had a poor pre-start, allowing Land Rover BAR to gain an early 26 second advantage by the first mark.
That lead remained steady through the first four legs until a crucial cross on leg 5/7 between the two teams saw the tides turn, as Peter Burling’s team seized the advantage.
There were questions over whether the Emirates Team New Zealand boat would be ready, heading into the race following Tuesday’s spectacular capsize, but if there were any lasting issues they certainly were not evident as Burling’s team sailed perfectly, registering over 99% of the race up on their foils according to the BMW Flytime measurement.
Having taken the lead, the Kiwis would not relinquish it in the closing stages, flying through the final gate and crossing the line 31 seconds ahead of Land Rover BAR to take a 4-1 lead in their Semi-Finals, immediately rampling up the pressure on Sir Ben Ainslie’s team ahead of their second race of the day.
Much like Sir Ben Ainslie, Nathan Outteridge knew that a repeat of Tuesday’s two defeats to SoftBank Team Japan would see them eliminated from the 35th America’s Cup.
However, it was SoftBank Team Japan’s Dean Barker who, despite leading their Semi-Final 3-1, showed early nerves in the two teams’ first encounter of the day as the Japanese team were handed a penalty for crossing the start line a fraction too soon.
That mistake handed Nathan Outteridge the advantage and it was one he took full advantage of, taking the lead and staying ahead throughout the entire race.
SoftBank Team Japan remained in hot pursuit of their rivals but there was ultimately nothing they could do. A faultless performance from Outteridge and Artemis Racing saw the Swedish team seal a 39 second victory and reduce the deficit in their fight to stay in the 35th America’s Cup to 3-2.
With the hopes of Great Britain resting on his shoulders, Sir Ben Ainslie was at his combative best in the third race of the day, as Land Rover BAR kept their hopes alive with a must-win 20 second victory over Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand.
Knowing only a win would keep them in the 35th America’s Cup, at least for one more race, Land Rover BAR showed their intentions right from the start, racing off the start line ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand and seizing the early advantage.
In contrast to their first encounter of the day, Ainslie and his team did not crack under the pressure from Burling, keeping the Kiws at bay throughout the race.
Despite their 4-1 advantage it was Emirates Team New Zealand who looked more like the team under pressure. Small mistakes crept into their race and poor manoeuvres, in particular on the third leg, hampered their chances of another win.
In contrast, the British team remained composed, sailing faultlessly just when it mattered most, finally crossing the line 20 seconds ahead of their rivals, pushing the scoreboard to 4-2.
Turning attentions back to the other semi-final duel, and what a difference a day makes, particularly when you’re Nathan Outteridge and Artemis Racing, who levelled the scores against SoftBank Team Japan with a second successive victory.
Just as they had in the two teams’ opening encounter on Thursday, Artemis Racing timed their approach to the start line to perfection and took an early lead.
In stark contrast to Tuesday’s poor performance, Nathan Outteridge and his team looked assured throughout the race, maintaining a slender lead over the pursuing SoftBank Team Japan.
While Dean Barker sailed an almost faultless race, Artemis Racing did not make the mistake the Japanese team would have been hoping for and Nathan Outteridge steered his team home with a 28 second victory, levelling the scores at 3-3 ahead of the teams’ third and final battle of the day.
All eyes turned to Land Rover BAR and Emirates Team New Zealand, and the crunch match between the two Semi-Finalists.
Having given themselves a glimmer of hope of progressing with their earlier victory, Sir Ben Ainslie and Land Rover BAR’s dream of reaching the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs Finals was finally ended with defeat to Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand in the fifth race of the day.
From the offset, the Kiwis were in a less than charitable mood, in comparison to the second race of the day, and they burst off of the start line, giving themselves an immediate advantage in their efforts to knock out the Brits.
The Emirates Team New Zealand advantage was extended to 13 seconds by the second gate, and extended further to 35 seconds by the fifth gate as the British challenge began to diminish.
Sir Ben Ainslie refused to concede defeat, but despite Land Rover BAR’s best efforts, elimination looked inevitable as Peter Burling’s team maintained a healthy lead.
Finally, with the British team looking helplessly up the racecourse, Emirates Team New Zealand crossed the finish line, sealing their progression into the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs Finals and confirming Land Rover BAR’s elimination from the 35th America’s Cup.
While one battle had been settled, the other remained finely poised as Artemis Racing and SoftBank Team Japan faced off for a final time on the day.
Having won both of the day’s previous battles, Nathan Outteridge made it a hat-trick of victories to turn a 3-1 deficit at the start of Thursday into a 4-3 lead at the end of the day.
Dean Barker narrowly won the pre-start battle, SoftBank Team Japan stealing an early march over Nathan Outteridge’s Artemis Racing. However, the Swedish team battled back over the first four legs of the race and closed the gap completely heading into the pivotal and dramatic Gate 5 turn.
The two teams came into the mark and, in a dramatic flashpoint moment, almost touched, the result of which was a penalty handed to SoftBank Team Japan.
It was a decision from the America’s Cup Race Management umpires that was to prove critical as Artemis Racing seized the advantage to race clear and cross the finish line well ahead of their rivals, sealing a third consecutive victory on the day.
That result leaves Nathan Outteridge in the driving seat heading into a mouth-watering day of racing on Friday, with Artemis Racing needing one more win and SoftBank Team Japan needing two more wins to confirm their place in the Louis Vuitton Americ’;s Cup Challenger Playoffs Finals, where either team will face Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand.
Article by: americascup.com