Ben and BAR on the edge…
What happened demanded Ainslie? He told the skipper’s press conference: “We dug the bows in, lost a huge amount of speed and distance. ETNZ was coming over us…”
As a result, LandroverBAR had to gybe away, said Ben, “And we had a systems failure that meant we couldn’t control our new daggerboard coming onto the port gybe.
“So we stuffed the bows in and wiped off all the speed and in those light winds, once you do that, trying to rebuild the speed high is so painful, trying to get going again.
‘In all fairness, in those conditions, they were really going well against us and it’s more than likely they would have found a way past us,’ Ben added.
“But it would have been nice of we could have made life just a little bit harder,” he added ruefully.
The BAR ‘stuff’ put them out them out of the race. While ETNZ sailed the race on its foils most of the way, LandroverBAR sailed – or dragged – most of the way with hulls in the water until they asked America’s Cup Race Management if they could retire the boat.
And this was long after ETNZ had finished. Ouch! This is not how Land Rover and the other sponsors had thought the 35th America’s Cup would go for Sir Ben Ainslie and Great Britain…
However, regardless of the Day 5 scares for BAR, they managed to beat Groupama Team France in the last race of the day to progress to the play-off semi-finals that begin on Sunday.
So BAR has at least another week in Bermuda. Our fingers are crossed for BAR and The Boys…
All the America’s Cup teams, bar Artemis Racing, were in action on the Great Sound caching up with the previous day’s race schedule, postponed due to light winds.
In the first race of the afternoon, SoftBank Team Japan gained a much needed victory as they overcame fellow strugglers Groupama Team France.
In light winds, the Japanese team made the better start, increasing their lead when their French opponents suffered a slight nosedive early on in the run up to mark 1.
Helmed by Dean Barker, SoftBank Team Japan managed to stay up on their foils in the light winds for longer periods than the French and maintained a healthy lead throughout the race.
With the light winds in mind, ACRM shortened the course, which meant a victory for the Japanese team, rarely looking in doubt, was confirmed sooner than perhaps expected, as they crossed the revised finish line over five minutes ahead of Groupama Team France.
Oracle Team USA once again showed its pedigree in race 6, as the team denied SoftBank Team Japan a second win on the day, beating the Japanese team by 32 seconds.
The Defenders of the ‘Auld Mug’ had to do it the hard way however, after being handed a penalty in the pre-start sequence for not entering the entry box in time, allowing their opponents to take a healthy lead which they maintained for the first four gates.
However, despite the initial setback, Oracle Team USA remained in pursuit of SoftBank Team Japan, cutting the deficit on every passing leg.
The pressure finally told at gate 5 as the American team not only cut the lead completely, but also passed their rivals, building to a 35 second lead in the closing stages.
It was an advantage they did not relinquish, crossing the finish line 32 seconds ahead of SoftBank Team Japan as they maintained their position at the top of the standings, moving on to seven points.
The final race of the day, race 7, proved the closest encounter with LandroverBAR claiming a very slender victory over Groupama Team France.
LandroverBAR was handed an early advantage, as the French team was handed a penalty in the pre-start sequence.
However, with light winds remaining over the racecourse, victory never looked assured for BAR as the lead changed hands multiple times throughout the race.
However, there was real drama as the teams headed for the finish line neck and neck. In the end it was BAR that took the win, crossing the line narrowly ahead of Groupama to claim a victory that took the team on to five points.
Thankfully, this win ensured BAR’s progression into the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Play-Off Semi-Finals.
The points tally after Round Robin 2, Race 7
Oracle Team USA – 6+1 1 – 7pts
Emirates Team New Zealand – 6 1 – 6pts
LandroverBAR – 3+2 5 – 5pts
SoftBank Team Japan – 3 4 – 3pts
Artemis Racing – 2 5 – 2pts
Groupama Team France – 2 6 – 2pts