Kiwis beat British to reach America's Cup challenger finals

Other members including helmsman Peter Burling were left suspended in the upturned hull
Other members including helmsman Peter Burling were left suspended in the upturned hull
Author

16 June, 2017

SoftBank Team Japan's challenge for the 35th America's Cup ended, as the team fell to Swedish Challenger Artemis Racing in a thrilling semi-final matchup in Bermuda.

While the Kiwis maintain a firm 3-1 lead in the first-to-five series, this point will give Ainslie's British team a hopeful shot, though the extreme weather conditions are not to be underestimated.

The victor of the first-to-five series will go on to challenge America's Cup holder Oracle Team USA next week.

Artemis Racing was a new syndicate four years ago but was devastated by the tragic death of British Olympic star Andrew "Bart" Simpson when its 72-foot catamaran broke apart during a training run in May 2013. "The boys really dug deep".

"I was really proud of the way the team sailed today and the way we approached the whole series", Ainslie said. "But I've got a lot of belief in the team that this is something we can come back from". With Artemis ruling the start box in all three races, the Kiwis found themselves playing catch up all day.

In stark contrast to Tuesday's poor performance, Nathan Outteridge and his team looked assured throughout the race, maintaining a slender lead over the pursuing SoftBank Team Japan. "I think for myself in that second race, we definitely missed a few shifts and definitely a lot to conservative in the start", he said.

More news: Japan and South Korea stumble on road to 2018 World Cup

Team Japan had the early lead but Outteridge outmaneuvered Dean Barker on the third leg and sailed into the lead.

Despite the loss, Ainslie was pleased with the progress his team demonstrated.

New Zealand won the first race of the day, but suffered a shocking setback at the start of the second as their yacht pitched nose-first into the water.

Luring athletes from other disciplines on board is not entirely new for the America's Cup.

The America's Cup defender has three athletes who have competed in the Olympics, including tactician Tom Slingsby who won gold for Australia in the Laser dinghy in 2012. After the Kiwis reached match point, Oracle won eight straight races to retain the oldest trophy in global sports.

The three men grew up sailing on Lake Macquarie and are now battling it out for a place in the Challenger final against New Zealand, who knocked out Great Britain on Friday.


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