Emirates Team New Zealand 2-1 up on Day 1
- Author: Salvatore Jensen Jun 11, 2017,
Jun 11, 2017, 23:42
Artemis Racing's skipper Nathan Outteridge plunged overboard in the Swedish team's America's Cup challenger final on Saturday, allowing Emirates Team New Zealand to get ahead and go 2-1 up in the first-to-five contest.
The victor of the first-to-five series will go on to challenge America's Cup holder Oracle Team USA next week.
Japan barely led as the pair neared the left boundary on Leg 3, the first upwind leg, and prepared to tack, Outteridge went on the offensive as soon as he saw SoftBank Team Japan fumble slightly.
For Burling and his crew, the incredible efforts the team made from Tuesday to Thursday to fix the boat that was so badly damaged in Tuesday's pitchpole were repaid handsomely, putting themselves into the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Challenger Playoffs Finals as the first team to reach that stage.
The challenger finals will be a trans-Tasman showdown between Outteridge and Team New Zealand skipper Peter Burling.
In the first race, Barker was over the starting line early and had to slow to two lengths behind Artemis to clear the penalty.
The win completed a rebound from a 3-1 deficit and represented a big step in Artemis' road back from the tragic death of British Olympic star Andrew "Bart" Simpson during the buildup to the 2013 America's Cup.
Helmsman Burling, an Olympic gold medallist, was bullish post-race and said his Kiwi outfit would have won regardless of Outteridge's slip. He also has a silver medal.
This was another painful loss for Barker. The British have been trying for 166 years to win back the silver trophy they lost to the schooner America in a race around the Isle of Wight in 1851.
Asked if he felt Team New Zealand could win the Louis Vuitton Cup and earn the right to take on Oracle Team USA again for the America's Cup, Burling didn't back away.
Sofuku continued, echoing Barker as he reflected on the achievements of the young Japanese challenge drawing upon his 20+ years of experience as Japan's leading America's Cup sailor.
New Zealand's boat had been a wreck after it capsized on Tuesday but they made sufficient repairs to progress to the final of the play-offs against either Artemis or SoftBank Team Japan. Skipper Russell Coutts handed the wheel to Barker, his understudy, for the clinching fifth race.