Oracle goes 2-1 to take lead in America's Cup qualifiers

The highlight of the day came in Race 5 in the highly anticipated battle between ORACLE TEAM USA and Emirates Team New Zealand.

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.

Each team races the other twice in the head-to-head match race format, with a point for the victor. He hit the dock while returning from a practice session on March 22 and then ran into the back of Emirates Team New Zealand during a practice race on May 16, causing significant damage that took the Kiwis three days to fix.

Skippered by Australian Jimmy Spithill, Oracle were looking good after beating Britain's Land Rover BAR by 39 seconds and SoftBank Team Japan by 54 to counter their 39-second loss to Sweden's Artemis Racing.

Ainslie was penalized and SoftBank Team Japan, skippered by former Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker, sailed off to a 48-second win.

A terrifying moment for Team Japan as Ben Ainslie's BAR boat slams into the side of them.

But Spithill got the inside position on Kiwi skipper Peter Burling at the next mark and sailed into the lead.

This is the first time the defender has sailed against challengers in the preliminaries. "We had a hard look at ourselves and all the guys onboard stepped it up and this is more like we should be racing".

"Our boat certainly needs more work to fix but I don't think it really affected the performance today", Ainslie said.

Oracle lead the first round robin with five points — four wins and a point from their Americas Cup World Series second-place finish.

Commenting on the race against Artemis, Sir Ben said: "We had a fantastic race against Artemis Racing".

However, the tides turned on the fifth leg, as Emirates Team New Zealand demonstrated the full speed of their pedal-powered grinding systems. "We actually made quite a lot of them, especially early on in the first two starts".

The thrilling duel against Artemis was underdogs France's first race win in Bermuda.

"It was just smooth sailing and no panic", Spithill said after the race, adding that he was "not yet satisfied" with the performance his crew were getting out of their catamaran.

"If we had left it in the water for a few more minutes it would have sunk".

Oracle recovered from a bad start against Land Rover BAR and passed the Brits about halfway through the race. We were better off foiling with the hull out of the water, and we tried to keep the boat on the foils right into the harbor.

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.

Having suffered their first defeat of the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers earlier in the day, ORACLE TEAM USA responded brilliantly in the twelfth and final race of the afternoon, cruising to a comfortable win over SoftBank Team Japan.

  • Leroy Wright