DOCKYARD, Bermuda, CMC – Sir Ben Ainslie’s British boat Land Rover BAR enjoyed a day of fluctuating fortunes as America’s Cup qualifiers continued in the Great Sound yesterday when winds remained light, barely above the six knots required for racing.
In race two Ainslie suffered the ignominy of having to retire against Emirates Team Zealand but bounced back to pip Groupama Team France, who began the regatta as rank outsiders among the six competing boats, after a neck-and-neck battle in the final race – a victory that guaranteed Land Rover BAR a place in the semi-finals starting on Sunday.
The victory was also sweet revenge for Ainslie, who lost to the French on Monday, leading to fears of an early exit from the America’s Cup. Britain has never won the cup in its 166-year history.
Ainslie let a good start slip but recovered to crawl over the finish line 23 seconds ahead of the French.
Defeat capped a bad day for the French, who were trounced by almost six minutes by SoftBank Team Japan in the day’s first race, which was briefly delayed because of lack of wind. The victory helped the Japanese move into a clear fourth place.
The French remain tied at the bottom of the standings with Sweden’s Artemis Racing, who had the day off.
Oracle Team US, already guaranteed a place in the match (final) as defending champions, notched up their sixth victory by comfortably beating the Japanese in race three, despite suffering a two boat lengths penalty for joining the entry box late.
Oracle Team USA top the standings with seven points with Emirates Team New Zealand second on six, Land Rover BAR third on five and SoftBank Team Japan fourth on three points.
Yesterday’s four races were held over from Wednesday when winds below six knots ruled out any action.