DOCKYARD: Emirates Team New Zealand capsized on the Great Sound yesterday to hand Britain’s struggling Land Rover BAR a lifeline, but their crew were all accounted for as squalls made racing hazardous on day two of the Americas’s Cup challenger play-off semi-final series.
In the other semi-final, SoftBank Team Japan, helmed by Dean Barker, handled the conditions better than their opponents, Sweden’s Artemis Racing, to go 3-1 up after the teams shared the spoils the previous day.
Most of the teams appeared to lose fairing on their boats as the winds whipped up to close to the maximum permitted 24 knots, producing the fastest races seen in Bermuda. To add to the drama, a few spectator boats encroached on the race course.
The Kiwis, who beat the British 2-0 on Monday after Sir Ben Ainslie’s boat was forced to retire with a broken camber arm inside the wing, tightened their grip with victory in yesterday’s first meeting to go 3-0 up despite having to switch wings before the race started, but then dramatically capsized shortly close to the start in the second clash.
Helmsman Peter Burling – who said he had “issues” with his boat after the first race — and his crew were rescued apparently unhurt as their 50-foot catamaran was righted and towed back to the boat shed for overnight repairs ahead of racing today, when even stronger winds are forecast.
Some of the six-man crew, including Burling, had been left hanging in the upturned hull of their catamaran until support boats arrived on the scene.
Ainslie, who now trails 3-1 in the best-of-nine series, described the conditions as the worst he had sailed in.
Artemis retired in their first race yesterday after taking a beating from the wind.
On Monday, Britain’s Land Rover BAR suffered a massive setback to their America’s Cup hopes when wing damage cost them their opening two challenger play-off semi-final races against Emirates Team New Zealand.