Two wins make ORACLE TEAM USA form team on day one

Two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA won two of three races Sunday to take a two-point lead in the America's Cup qualifiers on Bermuda's Great Sound.

Moments after Oracle Team USA came from behind to beat Emirates Team New Zealand in a thrilling rematch between the 2013 finalists, Ainslie, the skipper of Land Rover BAR, crashed his 50-foot foiling catamaran into SoftBank Team Japan during the prestart of the day's sixth and final race.

Skippered by Australian Jimmy Spithill, Oracle Team USA reached speeds of at least 42 knots as they left the French crew in their wake in their first race.

Australia's Spithill became the youngest skipper to capture the America's Cup in 2010 and three years later in San Francisco lead Team USA's incredible comeback victory over Emirates Team New Zealand.

Ainslie's crew - including Rio 2016 Team GB gold medallist Giles Scott - are now tied at the top of the qualifiers series rankings, thanks to their win over Sweden and two-points from last year's America's Cup World Series.

However, a drop in the breeze and a critical error on the first tack by the six-man British crew, handed France the initiative as they claimed a 53-second victory. "It is one of the most lovely places in the world and the Bermudians have been incredibly friendly and are very proud".

"We will have to go away in the coming days and make some big improvements", admitted Ainslie.

"We had too many mistakes against the French team in our first race and made life hard for ourselves".

"We're both trying to get the exact same thing done".

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

They were penalised for a scary pre-start collision with SoftBank Team Japan and with visible damage to one hull finished 48 seconds behind the Japanese in the final race of the day.

America's Cup Event Authority chief executive Sir Russell Coutts said: "We are obviously disappointed that the strong winds mean we have had to postpone day one of the 35th America's Cup".

It was one of the most exciting America's Cup races in years.

The 45-strong shore team worked through the night to get the 50ft catamaran fit for racing on Monday, repairs that would normally take "two or three months" as they cut away almost 20ft of carbon-fibre casing and aluminium honeycomb "filling". "Every day is different and so we will see what tomorrow brings". Each win earns one point, and the four Challengers with the most points advance to the next round.

Speculation that British challenger Land Rover BAR would be off the pace following some lacklustre performances during practice racing was quickly dispelled when they comfortably won against Sweden's Artemis Racing, who had been showing great speed in the run up to the qualifying races. "No disrespect to Franck, but I think Artemis is a team that the bookies would have had odds-on to win that race, and Franck and the guys just sailed better".

  • Julie Sanders