French crew in first America's Cup win, U.S. beaten

Four years ago, Team New Zealand reached match point against Oracle on San Francisco Bay before the American team, owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, won eight straight races to cap one of the greatest comebacks in sports. The two teams split on the upwind leg and Land Rover BAR were able to extended their lead throughout the race before spending some of that lead on defensive tactics to finish 11 seconds ahead.

Oracle went 2-0 while Land Rover BAR, Team New Zealand, Artemis Racing of Sweden and SoftBank Team Japan all went 1-1. But skipper Ben Ainslie and crew gave up the lead in their two races and were beaten handily by Oracle and Emirates Team New Zealand.

But, despite nearly touching, no penalty was given and ORACLE TEAM USA came out of the encounter with a seven second lead as they raced for home.

Oracle pulled into a 3-3 tie atop the standings with Land Rover BAR, which opened with two bonus points based on preliminary regattas.

"We haven't done a huge amount of yachting these last couple of weeks, or racing against other boats so it's definitely a learning experience every time we go out there and our learning curve is going to be pretty steep".

The foiling conditions helped keep Land Rover BAR afloat, at the end of the race the team foiled into Bermuda's Historic Dockyard to a waiting crane, with the whole team furiously bailing to keep R1 afloat.

Meanwhile, it proved a hard day for Groupama Team France, who suffered defeats in both their encounters, losing to both ORACLE TEAM USA and Emirates Team New Zealand.

But the Swedish team made amends in their second race by ending the three-race winning run of Oracle Team USA with a convincing show of tactics and boat speed giving them victory by a 39-second margin after taking the lead from the start.

Earlier, Burling gained an important edge over predecessor Dean Barker, with victory over Team Japan in their first meeting of the qualifier series.

Coming into the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers, Sir Ben Ainslie's team rarely found themselves spoken of as real contenders following a series of low key results in practice racing.

"We learned a lot in the race against France, where we put ourselves in a vulnerable position", Outteridge said.

The British looked strong in beating Artemis Racing by 11 seconds.

"We came out today when it counts and beat a really, really good team".

The British shore team has less than 24 hours to fix the boat before Sunday's races, when Land Rover BAR faces Oracle and Team New Zealand.

Mr Winfield said, "Bermuda has celebrated the day we've all worked so hard toward, the first day of hosting the largest global event ever staged on Bermuda soil".

The highlight of the day came in Race 5 in the highly anticipated battle between ORACLE TEAM USA and Emirates Team New Zealand. So this is one of many variables that we could see affecting the outcome, and puts a huge onus on forecasters getting it right before the start of the racing even begins. We made a few boat handling errors in particular and a few other mistakes around the course.

Oracle recovered from a bad start against Land Rover BAR and passed the Brits about halfway through the race.

In photos taken just before the incident the windward rudder is completely clear of the water, and it may well be that the AC50 overbalanced and did a serious nosedive, coming nearly to a complete stop as she emerged and recovered, stretching Oracle's lead to over 30 seconds - which remained at that level to the finish.

  • Joanne Flowers