Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR had their best race of the Louis Vuitton Challengers Trophy last Thursday pulling off a solid win against an unstable looking Emirates Team New Zealand boat, but whatever was causing the Kiwis problems seemed to be resolved by their second race of the day as they hammered the last nail in the British challenger’s coffin with a steady race win. The Brits should be proud of what they’ve achieved, they got better and better each day but when it came down to it, Land Rover BAR simply did not have the straight line boat speed of the Kiwis and needed mistakes from their opposition to open windows, something they offered up all too infrequently.
Land Rover BAR simply did not have the straight line boat speed of the Kiwis
It was then the turn of the Japanese led by Dean Barker to take a big bow and exit the challenge as the Swedish Team Artemis finally started showing consistent form, overcoming a 3-1 deficit to win 5-3. The only team to have beaten Oracle Team USA twice, performed clean maneuvers and high boat speeds for all of the final races and gave real optimism that their challenge to the Kiwi boat in the finals might not be a Emirates Team New Zealand white-wash.
And so to Day 1 of the Final of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger playoffs…
In Race 1, with just 8 knots of wind, Emirates Team New Zealand overcame a slow start in the light air to overtake the Swedes on leg 3 of the 7 leg course, eventually winning the race by 47 seconds. Watching the first race, one might have been forgiven for thinking this was the start of the end of Team Artemis, but by Race 2 the tables had turned.
Artemis…race win was achieved by a floorless sail, underlined by their 100% foiling stat
In slight stronger winds, Artemis, helmed by 31 year old Nathan Outteridge, won the start again but this time held off the challenge from Emirates Team New Zealand with a near perfect sail in the slightly stronger breeze. The Kiwis sat within 20-150m of their tail for the whole race waiting for the Swedes to make a mistake which was never forthcoming. The race win was achieved by a floorless sail, underlined by their 100% foiling stat.
Race 3 was extraordinary sailing and an absolute delight for the viewer as the Kiwis won the start, rounding the first buoy at some 40 knots. The two boats fought head to head for a full 5 legs of the race. Artemis took the lead on Leg 3 but the New Zealanders never let up holding them within 50-100m, rounding the leaward buoy within 4 seconds of the Swedes to start leg 4. On to the upwind leg, leg 5, the boats crossed on several occasions and it looked as if there might be a photo finish.
sudden drama as the Swedes gybed only to discover their helm Outteridge was swimming some 50m behind
But then sudden drama as the Swedes gybed only to discover their helm Outteridge was swimming some 50m behind having slipped as he ran from the starboard side of the boat over to the port. Team Artemis were quick to react, immediately placing their trimmer Luke Parkinson on the wheel but a swerve and a couple of plunges meant Emirates Team New Zealand quickly took the lead and then doubled it to 200m and then doubled it again for good measure, all within less than 1 minute. Race 3 to New Zealand, but Wow what a day!