Will SoftBank Back the First Japanese Team to Win the America's Cup?

Team NZ will take on the British Ben Ainslie Racing syndicate in this week's Louis Vuitton America's Cup challenger playoffs.

After enjoying two nearly flawless wins, the challengers got off to the worst possible start by copping a double penalty at the start.

SoftBank Team Japan, who are also relative late-comers to the America's Cup, are also on two points going into their encounter with the French crew, who are scheduled to race Ainslie's team later in the day. Team USA remained stuck on seven points as they were handed just their second defeat of the competition by Artemis Racing of Sweden.

Emirates Team New Zealand in action during the America's Cup qualifier against Artemis Racing on the Great Sound in Bermuda.

"It's great we have an opportunity to race with a bit more pressure tomorrow", Burling said.

Owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison and skippered by Australian Jimmy Spithill, Oracle Team USA sailed a masterful race on Bermuda's Great Sound on the final day of the qualifiers Saturday to beat Emirates Team New Zealand and earn a bonus point in the 35th America's Cup match that starts June 17.

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

Weather forecast has a sunny day with light winds fluctuating between 0-10 knots - they'll need at least 6 knots on the start line to get racing underway.

"We made some little errors and then learned a lot and we stayed out for a while afterwards to practice a few things that went wrong during the race and we are really happy with the few improvements we made afterwards".

The British crew retired in their first race of the day with New Zealand's victory already secured but later dug deep to see off France in a thriller.

The victor will face Oracle, which is racing in the preliminaries even though its place in the final is guaranteed as the defending champion.

On Monday, the umpires said they blew a penalty call against Artemis that allowed Team New Zealand to win. The Swedes will now meet Team Japan in the semi-finals.

Emirates Team New Zealand recovered superbly to close the deficit completely by gate 3 as the teams headed into the turn together. The Brits and Groupama Team France swapped the lead on every leg, with Ainslie making a nice move near the finish line to win by 23 seconds.

"We needed that one", said Ainslie, who has struggled with speed and collisions aboard his foiling 50-foot catamaran this spring.

  • Julie Sanders