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America's Cup Replay: Day 4 - Who will make the Playoffs?

by Richard Gladwell 31 May 2018 19:56 PDT 1 June 2018
Oracle Team USA heads for the finish line - Race 2, Round Robin 2, Day 4 - 35th America's Cup - Bermuda May 30, 2017 © Richard Gladwell

Today, May 30 (Atlantic Daylight Time) marks the fourth day of racing in the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda. To commemorate the win by Emirates Team New Zealand, Sail-World is re-running the daily content, from a variety of sources, unaltered. Emirates Team New Zealand are producing their own daily video clip, which forms part of our coverage. Sadly, 12 months later all video and still coverage from the official website, America's Cup Youtube channel and image library remain inaccessible to America's Cup fans.

The 35th America's Cup regatta entered the second phase today with the first races in Round Robin 2 of the Qualification Round.

In three more race days, on Saturday, the first team will be eliminated from the regatta.

Defending America's Cup Champion Oracle Team USA are on course for their objective to win the Qualifiers and take a point advantage into the Match, however, they will still have to win seven races in the first to seven series to win the America's Cup for the third successive time.

After having no racing yesterday, Oracle Team USA opened their Round Robin 2 account in convincing fashion with a win over Groupama Team France, who against the top team looked like the French of old.

The wind today was expected to flick between 10-16 kts over the 90 minute period of racing but was a little less than that - not getting above 13kts.

The direction of the wind from the NW meant that the course was in a new orientation from that used for the first three days of the regatta. A slightly different configuration meant that the boats only sailed half the final downwind run before turning and heading for the finish line off the America's Cup Village.

The first match between Emirates Team NZ and Artemis Racing was a re-run of their encounter on Day 3.

The first incident arose at Mark 2, where the Kiwis appealed twice to the umpires, getting a green flag (no penalty) response from the Umpires.

After avoiding the Swedish crew, Emirates Team New Zealand had their rudders break free of the water, resulting in an immediate loss of about 600-700kg of downward force from the foils and the Kiwis immediately went into a spectacular nosedive, dropping 17 secs on Artemis.

Then the Kiwis started sailing very hard and aggressively pulling back the lead on the Swedes, and managed to trap them into a penalty just before Mark 5, with the penalty being signalled on Artemis as they rounded the mark.

The Swedish team didn't bother to take the penalty and just sailed out the rest of the final leg without really foiling - and finished 90 secs back.

The second match of the day between USA and FRA was a procession. The only question being as to which of the Jekyll and Hyde French team would show up. It was the old Groupama Team France appeared, with the French looking uncompetitive again. Oracle Team USA had the misfortune to have an issue with her wingsail, to which they were able to effect a work-around and keep racing. France finished almost two minutes in arrears.

Artemis Racing made a second appearance for the day - against Land Rover BAR. After four straight losses, most would have picked the Swedish team to have taken a reasonably easy win against the Brits, who admitted the day before that they upwind speed problems.

Ben Ainslie, as expected won the start and then confounded the pundits to lead for the rest of the race with the Swedish team taking a second loss 30 seconds in arrears.

There was no apparent reason as to why the Brits had won, and the Swedes had lost.

If nothing else the outcome confirmed that the boats are a lot closer in performance that many fans would believe, and in the case of Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand the results are achieved by smart, hard and consistent sailing.

Artemis Racing still seemed to be keen to push the limits in an intersection with another boat, and while they caused the Kiwis grief in the first instance, it cost them the race in another.

The Swedes are not lucky. In a close call situation, the decision invariably seems to go against them, which must be hugely frustrating. They sit on two points and should be on four.

Softbank Team Japan was the only team not to race today and spent the day in the shed, rather than testing on the water.

Four points would seem to be the minimum to get to the next stage of the regatta.

Oracle Team USA can't sail in the Playoffs.

That leaves Emirates Team New Zealand as the top challenger and one who looks sharper and more confident with every outing. Clearly, the hard racing practice is lifting their game on a daily basis, and the team builds its confidence and self-belief. If this form and rate of progress continues, they will be a formidable opponent indeed come the America's Cup Match.

Their immediate hurdles will be to maintain their win rate and to reverse the first round result against Oracle Team USA, for psychological reasons more so than the point.

By carrying forward two bonus points from the America's Cup World Series, Land Rover BAR has also probably qualified for the Playoffs.

At the bottom of the table, three teams are on two points.

Artemis Racing has sailed seven races so far and has three left from which she must get two wins. Crunch day for the Swedes will occur on Friday when they have two races - against USA and Softbank Team Japan.

Softbank Team Japan has sailed only five races and has five left in the regatta of which Barker must win two - which looks very achievable.

Groupama has sailed six races, with four left. The French are more than capable of causing and upset or two - and if they are on song, then they will be a semi-finalist with Artemis being the most likely team to be ousted if the French do indeed win their two additional points.

The key focus for the Brits will be to continue to win races and put their poor form prior to today, behind them. They are an erratic team which needs to become consistent if they are to go beyond the Semi-Finals.

Racing Schedule – second Round Robin for Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers
RR 2 R4: SoftBank Team Japan v. Groupama Team France 2:08 pm
RR 2 R5: Land Rover BAR v. Emirates Team New Zealand 2:37 pm
RR 2 R6: ORACLE TEAM USA v. SoftBank Team Japan 3:06 pm
RR 2 R7: Groupama Team France v. Land Rover BAR 3:35 pm

Wednesday’s forecast will be lighter than today but should be of sufficeint strength for racing

If no racing takes place on Wednesday, the schedule will shift to Thursday, weather allowing.

Official Report from America's Cup Media - Tuesday 30 May, 2017 Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers - Round Robin 2 Races 1-3 2.00pm to 3.30pm ADT

Sir Ben Ainslie and Land Rover BAR arrested the run of losses the British team suffered in the first Round Robin stage of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, kicking off round two with a second win of the competition, again beating Artemis Racing who had a tough day in Bermuda.

There was to be no redemption for the Swedish team from their Round Robin 1 loss to Emirates Team New Zealand at the start of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers Round Robin 2 stage, falling to a second defeat in as many days to the Kiwis.

Yesterday, in what was the most thrilling and contentious day of racing in the 35th America’s Cup so far, the Swedish team were denied a victory over their Kiwi rivals following a dramatic late penalty in the final race of the day in Round Robin 1.

That penalty was the subject of much discussion overnight after Richard Slater, ACRM’s Chief Umpire said that, on reflection, the umpires would have made a different decision. However, the race result stood so it was back to the action on the Great Sound for the start of the Round Robin 2.

Picking up where the competition left off, day four started with a mouth-watering rematch between the two nations as the Swedish team looked for revenge for their loss in Round Robin 1.

The Swedes looked odds on to achieve just that in the early stages of the race as they led from the start, building up a 20-second lead following a big nosedive from Emirates Team New Zealand in the lead up to gate 2.

However, the Kiwis, helmed by Peter Burling, recovered spectacularly from the setback, chasing down the Swedes and cutting their lead to just three seconds at gate 3 before wiping out the lead altogether at gate 5.

In what appeared to be déjà vu from yesterday’s match, the two boats closed in quickly to the bottom mark on opposite tacks. Artemis Racing as the give-way boat on port did not keep clear of the Kiwis and earned a penalty, since Burling had to slightly duck to avoid potential contact.

The Artemis Racing late match penalty allowed Emirates Team New Zealand to coast to the finish line, winning by one minute and 31 seconds over the Swedish team.

The triumph saw Emirates Team New Zealand secure their fifth victory out of six races in the qualifying stages, equalling Oracle Team USA’s points tally in the standings ahead of the American team’s race against Groupama Team France in race two, albeit briefly.

“We had a little scare when our rudders came out of the water but we made sure we didn’t crash down,” said Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling on his team’s early nosedive.

“From there we fought back really hard in what was a massive effort and we are all really happy to have got another win.

“Everyone worked really hard and it was a really pleasing effort. We are all massively excited about the improvements in our boat.”

Meanwhile, Artemis Racing helmsman Nathan Outteridge was left to rue poor decisions in their defeat to New Zealand, on a day which also saw them suffer a second successive defeat to Land Rover BAR.

“We have had some pretty disappointing races so far in the America’s Cup,” said Outteridge on his team’s lack of current form, having claimed just two victories to date.

“It was a pretty tight race against New Zealand until we misjudged the top mark and ran out of steam allowing them to pass us and win.

“We then had a really poor start against Ben (Sir Ben Ainslie) and Land Rover BAR and that ultimately put us out of contention.”

Ultimately, the Kiwis were not level at the top of the standings for long as Jimmy Spithill’s Oracle Team USA restored their point advantage with a comfortable and impressive victory over Franck Cammas’ team.

Having successfully hooked the French boat in the pre-start and crossing the start line seven seconds in front, Oracle Team USA set about building their lead in the early stages of the race.

Groupama Team France’s task was made even harder following a penalty for crossing the boundary mark on leg two, forcing them even further behind the American team who raced well clear.

However, the Americans did not have it all their own way. Late in the race Tactician Tom Slingsby reported over the team radio that, “We have an issue,” leading to Kyle Langford having to make running repairs to their boat’s wingsail on leg five.

However, despite the issue, Oracle Team USA continued to sail smoothly, meaning there was to be no late drama or shock and the Defenders of the ‘Auld Mug’ finished the race one minute and 56 seconds ahead of their opponents.

“We had a good race and a good day,” said Oracle Team USA helmsman Jimmy Spithill.

“We had a slight fracture to the wing but there was a great reaction from the guys and everything was resolved. We had a nice lead so we just took our foot off of the accelerator and eased home.

“The shore team are looking at things now and I’m sure there will be no issues.

“The bigger thing for us going into tomorrow is the scheduled lighter winds. The forecasts are looking un-raceable but who knows, hopefully that will change overnight.”

For French helmsman Franck Cammas, he believes Groupama Team France need to race more smartly after being punished by a slight mistake in their pre-start against Oracle Team USA.

“For me it is not about being more aggressive in the pre-start it’s about being more smart,” said Cammas, whose team remains bottom of the standings on two points despite their improved form.

“We made a mistake in the pre-start and that put us behind early on. Our positioning was bad and that was a big mistake to make.

“Going forward we need to avoid those type of mistakes.”

Meanwhile, Land Rover BAR secured a much-needed victory in the final race of the afternoon (race three) as they overcame Artemis Racing with a 30 second advantage at the finish line.

Having won just one race in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers Robin 1, also over Artemis Racing, the pressure was on Sir Ben and his team heading into the encounter.

However, that pressure was not evident out on the water as the British team made a better start than their Swedish rivals, who were racing for the second time on the day.

In a much improved performance over the previous two days, Land Rover BAR, who hit the highest speed of the competition so far at just over 43 knots, maintained a comfortable advantage throughout the race as they kept the Swedes at bay.

Despite a slight touch down by the British team at mark four, they recovered quickly to ease over the finish line 30 seconds ahead of Nathan Outteridge’s team to seal a much-needed victory. That win moves Land Rover BAR onto four points in the standings, and more importantly, two points clear of bottom-placed Groupama team France.

“We had some pretty frank discussions about our sailing last night and how we needed to rectify that,” said Ainslie, whose team clinched only a second victory in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers.

“We’ve been disappointed in our performances so far but our boat speed was significantly better and I’m really proud of the team for the way they set up the boat.

“We’ve had a few tough days so to go and beat Artemis Racing, who are a tough team, is a really big win for us.

“We are developing all of the time, and hopefully we can continue to have good races.”

Results:

• RR2, Race 1: Emirates Team New Zealand beat Artemis Racing by 1 minute and 31 seconds • RR2, Race 2: Oracle Team USA beat Groupama Team France by 1 minute and 56 seconds • RR2, Race 3: Land Rover BAR beat Artemis Racing by 30 seconds

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