Photography by Ricardo Pinto, Sam Greenfield
05 June 2017
On Saturday Oracle, the Cup Holders, defeated Emirates Team New Zealand to win the round-robin qualifying phase of the 35th America’s Cup.
“We just won a race in the Cup,” USA’s Australian tactician Tom Slingsby could be heard telling the Oracle crew after they crossed the line 29 seconds in front of Team New Zealand.
On Sunday Bermuda’s Great Sound was bathed in sunshine for the scheduled first set of races in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs, but unfortunately the wind didn’t build into viable racing pressure.
America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM) confirmed just after 4.00pm ADT that the four scheduled Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs races planned for Sunday, June 4th, had to be postponed until Monday, June 5th as the winds across the Great Sound were below the minimum six knot limit America’s Cup Class (ACC) boats compete in.
Despite the postponement, thousands of fans basked in the glorious Bermudian sunshine and enjoyed the magnificent entertainment on offer within the America’s Cup Village.
Speaking about the decision to postpone Sunday’s scheduled races to Monday 5th June, (early morning Tuesday 6th June AEST), ACRM Regatta Director Iain Murray, said, “Whilst we tried hard to race, we unfortunately had to postpone the four races planned for Sunday until Monday because the winds simply didn’t reach the required six knot strength. This is how it is sometimes in sailing – here in Bermuda we have been spoilt for action so far, and today was just one of those days.
“The conditions look better so we’ll look to restart at around 2.00pm on Monday (3am Tuesday AEST), with Peter Burling and Emirates Team New Zealand vs Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR first, then Dean Barker’s SoftBank Team Japan against Nathan Outteridge and Artemis Racing.”
The crews in the first scheduled semi-final, Emirates Team New Zealand and Britain’s Land Rover BAR, had sat on board their catamarans waiting to see if the wind would build, trying to stay out of the beating sun.
British challenger Ainslie had looked relaxed, with the postponement clearly suiting him and his crew.
“We know that and our competitors know that so we want to get through today and look forward to better weather forecast for tomorrow and the rest of next week,” he said.
Earlier Ainslie, whose crew did just enough to get through the qualifying round but lacking consistency in both speed and the execution of manoeuvres, had said the pressure was on New Zealand as the “in-form” team.
As the highest scoring challenger during the qualifier round which ended on Saturday, Emirates Team New Zealand chose Ainslie’s team as their semi-final opponents, leaving Sweden’s Artemis Racing and SoftBank Team Japan to compete in the other.
The team which notches up five wins first progresses to the final to decide who will go on to challenge Oracle Team USA.