Burling chooses Ben Ainslie for semis

Ben sprints to make the tack...

Offered the choice of Artemis Racing, SoftBank Team Japan or LandroverBAR, New Zealand helm Peter Burling chose Sir Ben Aislie and the LandroverBAR team.

Artemis Racing will face SoftBank Team Japan in the toher semi-final.

After Franck Cammas ended up at the bottom of the challengers in the 35th America’s Cup, it was an easy choice for Burling to opt to face LandroverBAR in the first race of the semi-finals that begin on Sunday.

It’s hardly the kind of result Ben and his LandroverBAR team must have imagined befrore the series began. But while the crew on BAR may be top notch sailors, it seems the British boat just didn’t have the speed to make an impression once the racing began.

And if it hadn’t been for the two points Ben and the team won in the America’s Cup World Series, the British boat would have been even further down the rankings.

What a great pity for all those involved, from the sailors to the sponsors. Let’s hope the team manages to highlight the problems and that LandroverBAR gets to make more of an impact in future events.

Another team licking its wounds is the French, with Franck Cammas at the Groupama helm. They came very close to beating BAR in the final race the two sailed, but BAR just edged them out.

Perhaps the French are now feeling glad they didn’t get picked by Peter Burling as the easy meat for the semi-finals.

Then again, it’s not over until it’s over, and who knows? Maybe with the pressure off, BAR might be able to cause an upset or two. Ben certainly thinks his team might yet have a part to play.

When asked by a journalist if the BAR team could upset the odds, Ben replied: “Why else would we be here? Obviously we’re up against it, we know that. But they are beatable.”

Go get ’em Ben…

But before the semi-finals began, we had the finish of the challenger series, that saw Franck Cammas say he thinks they did a good job with the crew.

“One month ago we didn’t do it like that, so we’re very pleased and proud of that.” Cammas went on to say they want enjoy their last race against the Swedish.

“We are proud of what we did,” he said. “Two years ago we were nothing and now we’re in the game and sailing against the best.”

Dean Barker, helmsman of SoftBank Team Japan saw the boat finish in fourth place, going through to the challenger finals. However, the guy handling the post race comments, then asked Barker: “If you were the top rated team, would you pick yourself to race against?”

Barker, looking puzzled, replied: “I would be difficult to race against ourselves, but we’d be guaranteed to get a good result… It’s out of our control, but we’ll see what happens.”

The post race gut then went on to Nathan Outteridge, saying: “You had two wins today, and we’ve talked about the roller coaster with you guys – it’s win or loss.”

How much confidence, he asked, does this give going into the Louis Vuitton Challenger playoffs?

Outteridge handled it easily: “It was very important for us today – it’s been a pretty tough racing preview for us and today showed what the team was really made of.

“We had two days off and made a few tweaks on the boat and made some good improvements in the way the guys sail the boat. We know we’ve got a long way to go with that and bit more to go.”

The commentator thent alked to Peter Burling, helmsman of ETNZ : “You’re now top of the leader board for the first time. You guys seem very serene out on the water – is your confidence rising?”

Burling responded; “Like we’ve been saying the whole time, we’ve been learning a lot and improving a lot and feeling like we’ve got a lot left.

“Now we have the opportunity to go into a race with a bit more pressure tomorrow and that’s what we’re really excited about, you know, putting ourselves under a bit more pressure and learning from it.”

The commentator moved on to Jimmy Spithill, helmsman of Oracle Team USA, who said of the team’s first race that day: “Unfortunately we broke a rudder just before the start. But our shore team did a great job to get us out again for the next race.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t give them a win, but Artemis sailed a great race. The race against the Kiwis will be a decider for us, he added, and one of those pressure races.”

Team standings
Oracle Team USA 1 8 2 – 9pts
New Zealand 0 8 2 – 8pts
Great Britain 2 4 6 – 6pts
Sweden 0 5 5 – 5pts
SoftBank Team Japan 0 3 7 – 3pts
France 0 2 8 – 2pts

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