Emirates Team New Zealand put together a Super Sunday in Sweden, to vault to the top of the leaderboard and claim the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Gothenburg. It was a difficult day on the tight race course, with light and shifty conditions.
But the Kiwis, led by skipper Glenn Ashby and prodigy helmsman Peter Burling showed no fear, posting a 2-1 scoreline in the two double-point races. “It was a tricky afternoon, but our guys had a forecast for it being light like this for quite a few days, so we’ve been preparing for it since we arrived,” Burling said. “We’re really happy to put together two solid races today and to perform under pressure in that last one is very satisfying.”
Saturday’s leader, ORACLE TEAM USA, came in to the day on the back of a perfect scoreline in the first two races. But on Sunday it was a different story. Two fourth place finishes dropped the defending champion of the America’s Cup to second place.
“We’re disappointed,” said skipper Jimmy Spithill. “We were having a very difficult time speed-wise and with our technique in the lighter winds. We felt good when the breeze was up and we were on the foils. So we have to get back to work.”
Land Rover BAR won the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series on home waters in Portsmouth. Two second place finishes on Saturday had the team poised for another top finish. But a poor start in the last race put the team in third place for the Swedish stop.
“It’s frustrating,” admitted skipper Ben Ainslie. “But that’s the nature of the sport. We’re pleased to be on the podium. We got past Artemis Racing and nearly caught ORACLE TEAM USA at the end, so that was important. In these conditions you need to get a good start and we didn’t do that. It’s hard to work your way back after that. I thought the Kiwis sailed a brilliant second race and deserved to get the win.”
SoftBank Team Japan was in fourth place, with a strong final race giving a boost to the team’s confidence heading into the next event in Bermuda. “The goal today was to get better starts and get around the first mark in good shape and we did that,” said skipper Dean Barker. “It didn’t translate into the results we wanted in the first race, but in the second race today, we nailed it. We also had a couple of good results in the practice races as well, so hopefully we carry that through to Bermuda.”
Another team looking for positive signs was Groupama Team France, who raced without regular tactician Arnaud Psarofaghis, on a day that called for good tactics. “It was good to finish third in the last race,” said skipper Franck Cammas. “It’s taken a long time to find a good mode for sailing downwind and that’s held us back. Today was tactically tricky. Even if you start well, the game comes after the start. But we managed the tactics with Thierry Fouchier and myself and we had a bit more time to think because the wind was light.”
The day started well for the hometown heroes on Artemis Racing, who have struggled to put together consistently good results. That pattern would continue. An inspiring win in the first race was followed by a last place finish in the second.
“We got a ripper of a start in the first one and when you get ahead of the pack in these conditions it can roll into a massive lead,” said skipper Nathan Outteridge. We’ve been working really hard as a team to fix our issues. Yesterday we sailed well but didn’t get the results which was very discouraging, but I kept reminding the guys it will come, we’re so close.
“So to put it all together in that first race was great for our fans, our team and for us on the boat as well. Of course it would have been nice to follow that up with another solid race, but I guess we’ll have to do that in Bermuda.”, Outteridge added.
The Race to Bermuda starts in earnest now, as the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series shifts to the home of the 2017 America’s Cup from October 16-18.
Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Gothenburg – Final Results
Team – Points
Emirates Team NZ – 54
ORACLE TEAM USA – 48
Land Rover BAR – 46
SoftBank Team Japan – 43
Artemis Racing – 42
Groupama Team France 37
Overall standings – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series (following the first two events):
Team – Points
Emirates Team New Zealand – 72
Land Rover BAR – 65
ORACLE TEAM USA – 64
SoftBank Team Japan – 56
Artemis Racing – 53
Groupama Team France – 50