America’s Cup: France Eliminated, Oracle Wins Qualifiers

Author:
Publish date:
By prevailing over Emirates Team New Zealand on Saturday, Oracle Team USA not only won the race but the entire qualifying series. © ACEA 2017 / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

By prevailing over Emirates Team New Zealand on Saturday, Oracle Team USA not only won the race but the entire qualifying series. © ACEA 2017 / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

Over the weekend the 35th America’s Cup marked a pair of major milestones, with the French being eliminated and the Defender bowing out until the finals two weeks from now after winning the first qualifying round.

The high point of the weekend was Saturday’s first race between Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand. Not only did it serve as yet another grudge match between Oracle and the same outfit it humiliated in the 34th Cup, it may very well have served as a preview of things to come, with ETNZ clearly favored to be the team that vies for the Cup at the end of the challenger series.

Even more important, by winning the race, Oracle Team USA earned a bonus point, which means it will start the final America’s Cup series up a point: in stark contrast to the 34th Cup finals in San Francisco, when it started a couple of point down in consequence of its shenanigans during the preceding America’s Cup World Series. (A small matter of deliberately altering what was supposed to be their “one-design” AC45. Oops!)

[Day 8 Recap Video

Regarding the race itself, Oracle won the start and then pretty much led all the way to the finish after that. On the final beat, ETNZ crossed Oracle’s bow when the latter was on port. But then at the next crossing when Oracle once again had the right-of-way, it took ETNZ’s bow and never looked back. As has been the case in past races, the Kiwi’s seemed to have excellent straight-line boatspeed and executed their maneuvers smoothly. However, they also had a tendency to seemingly fall apart tactically whenever the pressure was on—like when they incurred a penalty on the fifth of the seven legs for sailing beyond one of racecourse boundaries.

With respect to the rest of the fleet, the final results had Land Rover BAR in third place overall; thanks in large part to the two points it picked up before racing even started thanks to its overall win in the America’s Cup World Series; Sweden’s Artemis in fourth, with 5 wins and 5 losses; Softbank Team Japan in fifth; and France in sixth, which meant that it has now been eliminated from Cup competition, although helmsman Franck Cammas has already vowed to return for the next Cup cycle.

Next up is the Challenger Playoffs Semi-Finals in which ETNZ will sail against Land Rover BAR and Artemis will sail against Japan, each in a first-to-five series. The winners of these two matchups will then go head-to-head to determine a final challenger for the America’s Cup itself, which begins June 17. The Semi-Finals were originally scheduled to begin on Sunday, but had to be postponed 24 hours due to lack of wind and will hopefully begin later today.

“It is going to be a close race, but to win the America’s Cup you have to beat all the teams,” Land Rover BAR helmsman Sir Ben Ainslie said of the upcoming series against the Kiwis. “Emirates Team New Zealand have certainly proved through this qualifying round to be sailing really well. They are very fast and so for us, it will be a real battle. However, we are up for it and looking forward to it.”

“We’ve done a lot of racing against Artemis Racing over the last 18 months, and we’ve had some great battles,” said SoftBank Team Japan helmsman Dean Barker of his own upcoming series. “We know they are a very strong team, I’m sure the racing is going to be very close and it will be interesting all the way through.”

As for Oracle Team USA, for next two weeks, it will get a chance to work on both boatspeed and its maneuvers as much as it pleases. However, while this may sound good, there’s nothing like actual competition to hone your sailing skills, and with all the teams still learning and improving so quickly, you can’t help but think that whoever prevails in the challenger series is going to be tough as nails. Time will tell.

For a complete schedule, visit https://www.americascup.com/en/ac35-schedule.html.

June 2017

Related

MHS-GMR_3549

New Multihulls 2018

Farrier F-22 New Zealander Ian Farrier ushered in a new genre of sailing with his folding-ama trailerable trimarans, the best-known of which are the Corsair designs. Farrier’s last project before he passed away last year was this sweet little tri. Available in three versions, ...read more

shutterstock_373701682

Cruising: Island Comeback

The U.S. Virgins Islands have surged back from the devastation of the 2017 hurricanes, with new infrastructure plans that will benefit charterers and cruisers alike. After hurricanes Irma and Maria roared through the Leeward Islands in September 2017, it was impossible to ...read more

albintoilet

Gear: Albin Pump Marine Toilet

Head Start Is there room for a new marine toilet? Albin Pump Marine thinks so, having just introduced its line of Swedish-built heads—ranging from compact to full-size models—to the American market. The toilets feature vitreous porcelain bowls and either wooden or thermoplastic ...read more

07n_45R2699

Multihull Sailor: Classic Cats

If you’re looking for a decent sub-40ft cruising cat, you have few choices when it comes to new-boat offerings. It is a well-known fact that the multihull market has taken off in a way very few could have predicted. Despite Hurricane Irma’s recent destruction of a large part of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Thanks a bunch  This scene is very calm and seamanlike. No frantic rope throwing or shouting. As he passes the line to the gent on the dock, the crew on the boat says, quietly and clearly, “Would you ...read more

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more