Published: Mon, June 05, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Sailing: New Zealand keeps pressure on Team USA with Japan win


A mad dash around the turquoise waters of Bermuda's Great Sound by heavyweights Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA on Saturday could have a major impact on the 35th America's Cup match that starts in two weeks.

Groupama Team France were ultimately punished by two penalties during the race, one after the pre-start and another on leg 3, ending any chance of a real challenge, as the Swedish team coasted home comfortably ahead of their French rivals.

While there is nothing in the rules that would prevent this, it further underlines the skewed race course Team NZ are sailing on when the defender, events authority and broadcast unit are all essentially one organisation.

That's similar to what Oracle gained.

"It's great we have an opportunity to race with a bit more pressure tomorrow", Burling said. "Good work", tactician Tom Slingsby told his crewmates after the finish.

This model is held up by the America's Cup organisers as a way for more hopefuls to mount challenges. "We definitely learned a lot last time we sailed in these conditions". The bonus point is another twist.

Under the protocol for the oldest trophy in worldwide sport, challengers can buy a basic design packages for the one-design 50-foot (15 metre) foiling catamarans. "Clearly that was our goal coming into the competition".

In todays other race, Artemis Racing comfortably beat Groupama Team France, who had already been eliminated. Spithill said he didn't even know if he'd make it to the start line after the rudder mishap.

Coupled with two wins in these round robins, Oracle has won 10 straight races against Team New Zealand. "Today was obviously a pretty good learning experience, we obviously weren't good enough out there, but we'll address that and come back stronger".

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

New Zealand are seeking to avenge their 2013 defeat by Larry Ellison's Oracle Team USA in San Francisco and as the highest scoring of the challengers, will be able to decide which crew they contest the challenger semi-finals against.

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 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.

The Kiwis struggled to match the aggressive approach of Team USA skipper James Spithill, committing three penalties which cost a total of six boat lengths.

In this photo provided by the America's Cup Event Authority, Emirates Team New Zealand and Groupama Team France (not shown) compete during America's Cup qualifying on the Great Sound in Bermuda on Friday, June 2, 2017.

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

Oracle will sail against Land Rover BAR in the fourth and final race Saturday.

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