Yachting: Lack of wind delays America's Cup Challenger semi-finals

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.

Spithill hailed the impact of Tom Slingsby, Oracles tactician, while taking a dig at Team New Zealands tactical set-up.

The new breed of America's Cup craft lift out of the water on hydrofoils, so far "flying" at speeds of more than 40 knots.

Oracle Team USA, owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, will have a 1-0 lead at the start of the first-to-seven America's Cup match starting June 17.

Team NZ still finish first among the challengers, giving them the right to choose their opponents for the best-of-nine semi-final phase.

The team which notches up five wins first progresses to the final to decide who will go on to challenge Oracle Team USA.

Although New Zealand fought back, a couple of uncharacteristic errors meant they were unable to get ahead of Spithill's 50-foot (15 metre) catamaran and were beaten easily by the holders of the oldest trophy in worldwide sport.

In Saturday's second race, Ben Ainslie's Land Rover BAR won a thrilling duel against SoftBank Team Japan, with the British boat getting the better of Dean Barker's crew at the start.

Emirates Team New Zealand's decision to face Land Rover BAR means the remaining two teams to have progressed from the qualifiers, SoftBank Team Japan and Artemis Racing, will face off in the other America's Cup Challenger Playoffs semi-final.

Jimmy Spithill's U.S. crew now progress straight to the main event, where they'll start with a one race advantage thanks to their overall win in the qualifiers.

The Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers concluded today [Saturday, 3rd June] with the Defenders of the "Auld Mug" Oracle Team USA beating Emirates Team New Zealand and clinching the crucial top spot in the final leaderboard.

Spithill knows how valuable wins are in the match.

Both losses have come against Team USA, including Sunday's effort which was marred by three penalty offences which cost a total of six boat lengths.

Team USA, the Cup holders, dominated the clash of two powerhouse syndicates on Sunday (NZT), winning by 29 seconds to ensure they will finish top of the qualifying standings.

But before then, the USA and New Zealand will cap the round robin with a rematch of the 2013 America's Cup match in San Francisco on Saturday.

"We've done a lot of racing against Artemis Racing over the last 18 months and we've had some great battles", said SoftBank Team Japan helmsman Dean Barker, whose side finished in fifth place with three points in the qualifiers.

With a two week break from race action ahead, helmsman Jimmy Spithill and his team will continue to develop their boat and be ready to face the eventual victor of the Challenger Playoffs.

  • Leroy Wright