Published: Sun, June 04, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Oracle beats Kiwis in Bermuda for America's Cup bonus point

The first crew in each of the two semi-finals to win five races progresses to the challenger final and whoever wins that takes on Oracle Team USA for the America's Cup itself.

A definite gap exists between the top three and the bottom three, and future America's Cups should look closely at how they can maintain an even playing field whilst still reaching the pinnacle of the sport.

The British crew bounced back from that loss with a 13-second victory over Japan on Saturday but were defeated in the second race of the day, despite an encouraging performance, by holders Oracle Team USA.

The pre-race pressure was high with the victor of the monumental clash not only taking the bragging rights, but also importantly topping the final Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers table which means taking a vital point into the showpiece America's Cup Match. presented by Louis Vuitton.

"We have to concentrate on ourselves and we have to keep focussing on what will ultimately give us the best opportunity to bring the America's Cup back to New Zealand".

Conditions suggest light-air masters Emirates Team New Zealand will set up a rematch with Oracle Team USA, but there will be no margin for error. Oracle will need to win only six races starting June 17 to retain its title.

But the Japanese team chased them round Bermuda's Great Sound and were penalised after a close call between them.

Spithill knows how valuable wins are in the match.

Despite the defeat to Oracle, it was an encouraging day for Ben Ainslie's British outfit, who beat Japan in their other race of the day.

The victory capped off a thrilling Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers which ended with Oracle Team USA topping the standings with nine points.

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Top-seeded Emirates Team New Zealand chose Ainslie's syndicate, Land Rover BAR, as its opponent in the semifinals.

With one last day of round robin racing to come on Saturday, the challenger semi-finalists are now decided - New Zealand, Sweden, Britain's Land Rover BAR and Japan.

The Kiwi crew was penalized twice, including at the start when it forced Oracle, the right-of-way boat, to bear away as the 50-foot catamarans jockeyed for position at the line.

New Zealand gained on the upwind leg, even briefly taking the lead, but Oracle were ahead at every mark.

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.

The boat slowed but not sufficiently in the eyes of course umpires, who issued another penalty.

Also Saturday, the British boat beat Team Japan and Artemis Racing beat Groupama Team France, which was eliminated Friday.

Bernie Wilson is an Associated Press writer.

Team USA made it two-from-two with a comfortable defeat of BAR in their last race before a two-week period of development.

Earlier on Saturday, the US crew beat Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton America's Cup qualifier event, guaranteeing themselves a bonus point when the racing for the cup begins on June 17 in Bermuda.

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