With a week to go before the qualifiers, Elaine Bunting talks to Andy Rice about the America's Cup preparations, Ben Ainslie's collision with Emirates New Zealand and who are the top teams

With a week to go until the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup qualifiers begin, the race action and controversy have stepped up into another league.

During practice racing this week, we saw Emirates Team New Zealand break a rudder and Ben Ainslie on Land Rover BAR do a rear end shunt on the same boat after getting locked out of a pre-start manoeuvre. That damaged the bow of Land Rover BAR’s Rita and put a 1m gash and puncture in Emirates’s leeward hull. Both both boats were out for repair for several days and the incident sparked quite a heated row among spectators about Ainslie’s culpability and motives.

In our America’s Cup podcast this week, Elaine Bunting talked to Andy Rice about what we know, or can speculate, about what’s going on.

 

 

There has been plenty of controversy ashore, frosty relations between teams and heat among supporters. It wasn’t helped by Ben Ainslie’s comment after the collision with Emirates Team New Zealand when he seemed to make light of the matter, much to the ETNZ team’s apparent disgust.

Land Rover BAR later released a snippet of onboard footage in which you could hear one of the guys saying, right before the bang: “Issues, issues, issues…!”

What does that – a control problem on board, or a simple miscue? Andy airs his theories here.

And this week, Dean Barker came out and said that a pecking order was now clear, though apart from seeming to place his SoftBank Team Japan in the top ranks, he was a little coy about what he thinks the ranking order actually is. He did, however, comment that he thought Oracle Team USA had taken a “little step” forward.

Straight talking – or more going on there?

What does seem clear, with a 5-1 loss/win record in the final round of practice racing, is that Land Rover BAR is lacking speed and has a lot work to do if they are to make it through the qualifying and playoff rounds. Meanwhile Emirates Team New Zealand are looking good, flying high through foiling tacks and gybes, and Artemis Racing still seem like the most dominant of all six teams.

In this chat, we look put some odds on what the form is be as the six teams prepare for the start of racing next weekend.