Brits, Kiwis advance to next round in America's Cup prelims

Saturday also marks the last race day for Oracle Team USA as they have to sit out the Semi-Finals and Finals of the Challenger Series ahead of the America's Cup Match starting on June 17.

Led by former Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker, the crew is the first Japanese flagged challenger since 2000 and sponsor SoftBank has set its sights on "becoming the first Japanese team to win the America's Cup".

"We were really happy with the start", Artemis Racing skipper Nathan Outteridge said in a televised interview following his crew's victory over Oracle Team USA who remained on seven points, level with the New Zealand team.

Artemis Racing, Groupama Team France, Land Rover BAR and SoftBank Team Japan round out the competition heading into the next rounds.

The second round robin tries again tomorrow at 2:00 pm (local time) with four matches scheduled: Japan vs France, Great Britain vs New Zealand, USA vs Japan, and France vs Great Britain.

The result means the US team will have a point lead against whoever gets to challenge them in a head-to-head match, which will be won by the first team to get to seven points.

While that decision initially looked to have paid off with Sunday's light winds, the postponement to Monday and the forecast of a stiffer breeze will increase Ainslie's chances of beating Burling, based on the British team's performance so far.

Ainslie bounced back and beat Groupama Team France to clinch a spot in the semis. "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".

That heavy defeat put more pressure on the clash with France - who had lost to SoftBank Team Japan by nearly six minutes in the day's opening race - but Britain crossed the finish line just ahead of their opponents to avenge Monday's defeat.

However, they were led around the course by Softbank Team Japan for more than half the race after the Defender suffered a pre-start penalty from the Umpires.

With lighter winds predicted over the next few days, each team will have to be at their sharpest to prevail in what will be a compelling series of races.

Team USA are hoping that translates to a third straight victory in the America's Cup, and that Friday's defeat is just a blip on the radar.

And although Japan's close ties to the US defenders have raised some questions over independence, skipper and CEO Barker says they operate separately on key areas of designing and configuring their catamarans. We wanted that point, like the rest of the teams.

Emirates Team New Zealand are battling with Oracle Team USA to top the qualifying round robin event.

  • Julie Sanders