France knocked out of America's Cup sailing by dominant New Zealand

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.

The challenger series has allowed teams to work on their techniques, while adding an extra level of excitement to the event.

That's similar to what Oracle gained.

Post-race it was confirmed that Team New Zealand will be racing Ben Ainslie Racing in the Louis Vuitton America's Cup challenger playoffs.

“We need to be faster to win this Americas Cup. This is the first time the defender has sailed with the challengers in the preliminaries.

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.

Under the protocol for the oldest trophy in global sport, challengers can buy a basic design packages for the one-design 50-foot (15 metre) foiling catamarans. Oracle battled the Emirates Team New Zealand boat in the 2013 final, winning yachting's most venerable and coveted trophy by just 44 seconds.

They were latecomers to the competition, and their budget of 30 million euros (US$33.8 million) is significantly smaller than those of the other teams, whose outlay is closer to 100 million euros.

Friday's racing could see Groupama Team France knocked out of the event if they fail to beat Emirates Team New Zealand in their duel scheduled for later in the session.

Spithill said he did not even know if he had make it to the start line after the rudder mishap.

If Oracle beats the Kiwis in the first race Saturday, it would clinch the bonus point on a tiebreaker based on standings in the America's Cup World Series the last two years. Oracle struggled for speed in the early races and replaced tactician John Kostecki with British sailing star Ben Ainslie. The Kiwis reached match point at 8-1, but what could have been the deciding race was abandoned as the time limit expired on a fluky day on San Francisco Bay. "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".

The American-backed crew, which includes Australians Spithill and Slingsby, will now train on its own while the challengers sail their semifinals, which start Sunday, and finals.

Those four teams will race in a first-to-five-points format.

That leaves SoftBank Team Japan to face Sweden's Artemis Racing in the other semi.

New Zealand's victories over Softbank Team Japan and France saw them surpass holders Oracle Team USA atop the standings with eight points.

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.

  • Zachary Reyes