A critical part of the wingsail of Land Rover BAR that broke early in their first race against Emirates Team New Zealand forces the British to retire from both races.
In the second semi final America's Cup challenger pairing, SoftBank Team Japan and Artemis Racing put on some exhilarating boat on boat racing to take one race each
The British team aboard Land Rover BAR suffered a major setback in their quest to challenge for the 35th America’s Cup today, when a critical component in their wingsail broke early on in their first semi final race against Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs.
To surrender the first two points so quickly in an nine race / first to five points match against the most consistent of the five challengers, makes the Brits’ task a mountainous one.
It was all set up to be a dramatic opening semi final match. First Emirates Team New Zealand picked BAR as their opponents. Then the wind failed to show up yesterday, forcing a postponement (which many suggested BAR were thanking the wind gods for, as they were a team that looked slow and inconsistent in the light breeze).
Today the wind averaged an ideal 15 knots, and talk turned to the pre-start and how consistent and aggressive Ben Ainslie has been.
Indeed he was again today in his efforts to push the kiwis close to the line too early. Some good defensive manoeuvres from Team New Zealand’s Peter Burling however meant Emirates just got the edge at the start and first mark.
As the boats split at the bottom mark and the Brits headed upwind, a crack and crunching noise was heard aboard, one which signalled the end of their race – and both opening matches. Ben Ainslie quickly slowed and then stopped the boat to prevent further damage.
From the onboard microphones we could hear that it was thought to be the camber arm that had broken inside the wingsail of Land Rover BAR, a critical component that controls the camber and general overall shape to the wing.
The British team made the decision to retire from the race but had just 40 minutes to find a replacement part or to substitute the whole wing with their spare before the second match started. As the catamaran had to be reversed all the way back to the dock to prevent loading up the wing, it soon became clear that BAR would have to forfeit the second match of the day too.
While aboard the RIB towing the stricken boat slowly back, Ben Ainslie said that this was the first time they have had a problem with the wing. “It’s a technical sport – sometimes you get failures like this and you have to take it on the chin and deal with it and make the best of it that you can.”
America’s Cup: Artemis Racing versus SoftBank Team Japan
The second semi final fixture between Artemis Racing and SoftBank Team Japan meanwhile, saw some of the electric, high speed nip-and-tuck racing that is making this 35th America’s Cup particularly exciting.
SoftBank Team Japan in particular showed the type of consistent pace we know they are capable of in the first race.
Artemis won the start by a whisker and led into the first two marks. But during first upwind leg Dean Barker and his SoftBank crew really got into phase with the boat and the shifts and smoked upwind at 30 knots plus. And that’s against Artemis, who, until then, had looked the quickest upwind.
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SoftBank has consistently surrendered their leads during this series. But the pace and 99% fly time they demonstrated in this first race ensured the 20-second lead they built during that beat was never relinquished.
1-0 to the Japanese.
The final 30 seconds of the second prestart ensured another gripping opening and match. Artemis tried to luff Softbank and came within a couple of feet of doing so – but Dean Barker managed to just keep the Japanese boat clear. With better speed and angle to the first mark, it looked like SoftBank would maintain their winning form.
One poor gybe however, a notable one where Softbank buried its bows and Barker took a tumble on the trampoline during the gybe, was the beginning of the Japanese team getting back out of sync.
The gap had closed up by the bottom gate. On the final upwind leg Artemis showed their ruthless upwind form and the race would be decided on one of the last boundary-enforced tacks. Artemis nailed it (together with a large shift), taking a lead they would not relinquish.
One point to both teams and a start to a semi final pairing that looks set to go all the way.
Expect a high speed thriller for Tuesday, with breeze due to build to up to 22 knots during the race window. Can the Land Rover BAR shore team pull off another repair in time?