Published: Sat, June 10, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Ben Ainslie wins place in America's Cup play-offs - but it's no breeze

Ben Ainslie wins place in America's Cup play-offs - but it's no breeze

Emirates Team New Zealand lost their final qualifying race today against cupholders Oracle Team USA and, with that defeat, a possible bonus point in the America's Cup final, but they had already secured their status as top challengers and the right to choose their semifinal opponents.

The result means the US team supported by Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison will have a point lead against whoever gets to challenge them in head-to-head match, which will be won by the first team to get to seven points.

"We've done a lot of racing against Artemis Racing over the last 18 months and we've had some great battles", said SoftBank Team Japan helmsman Dean Barker, whose side finished in fifth place with three points in the qualifiers.

Ainslie bounced back and beat Groupama Team France to clinch a spot in the semis.

But to get an America's Cup boat on the water, let alone compete with the likes of Oracle Team USA and Artemis Racing, costs tens of millions of dollars.

We had a nice start against Emirates Team New Zealand but they were coming over us with pace.

However with unless her performance improves dramatically the erratic British will be out after the Semi-Finals - when they have to survive on race wins alone.

It would now seem the Land Rover BAR has sufficient points with her win today, her other two wins in the regatta and her two bonus points from the America's Cup World Series to join Emirates Team New Zealand in the play-offs.

Those races will be SoftBank Team Japan against Groupama Team France, Britain's Land Rover BAR against Emirates Team New Zealand, two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA versus Team Japan and Team France against Land Rover BAR.

From there Kiwi skipper Peter Burling was always in control and the only question became whether they would manage to lap Ainslie's boat after leading by more than six minutes through the fourth mark. "We're looking forward to a better forecast tomorrow".

"We just won a race in the Cup, boys".

Emirates Team New Zealand in action during the America's Cup qualifier against Artemis Racing on the Great Sound in Bermuda.

SoftBank Team Japan also gets expertise in aerodynamics, instrumentation, simulation, composites, structures, hydraulics and data analysis from Airbus, the European plane maker and "innovation partner" to both teams.

"These conditions are probably the hardest we have for these boats", Barker said, adding that factors such as body movements on the finely-tuned 50-foot (15 metre) foiling catamarans were crucial when the wind was so light.

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