Penalties, crashes, drama and moments of joy - it's been an emotional start to the greatest race on water out on Bermuda's Great Sound.
It was a slight anti-climax for those who waited with bated breath for the racing to kick off on day one as Bermuda was greeted with gale force winds making it too dangerous for sailing to commence. But despite the slight delay to proceedings, Saturday saw a strong day of racing with Oracle Team USA taking back to back wins. The biggest moment of the day was a dramatic crash between Land Rover BAR and SoftBank Team Japan in the final 6th race. Luckily everyone involved was safe and Skipper Dean Barker told America's Cup that the team "was incredibly lucky" followed by "what would have been worse is if their boat came a little bit higher over our hull, that would have been really dangerous." Land Rover BAR skipper Sir Ben Ainslie wrote the matter off as part of the competition and praised his team for being up to speed with their competitors after being heavily criticised in practice racing.
Day two saw the French take their first win - an emotional victory for the team and fans after being the only team not to achieve a single win during their practice racing. It was a tense race as the French gained a 22 second lead and then nose-dived letting Artemis Racing catch up and resulting in a nervous race to the finish line. It was also a great day for Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand who both took two wins with the Kiwis taking an impressive 1 minute 28 second lead over the Brits.
More drama unfolded on Day 3 in a close and heated race between Emirates Team New Zealand and Artemis Racing. The Swedes suffered a penalty at the beginning of the race for crossing the start line too early, dropping back by the space of two boats and allowing the Kiwis to take the lead. However, they soon caught up and flew down the race course. The lead constantly switched between both teams but Artemis Racing took the lead in the final leg until they received a dramatic penalty for not allowing Emirates Team New Zealand enough room. The Swedes took the penalty, leaving Emirates Team New Zealand to cross the finish line first and win. It was later announced by the America's Cup Race Management: “we have had a discussion, we have looked at other evidence, information and data, and I think if we were to go back in time and make that call, we would green light that call and not penalize Artemis.” However the decision cannot be reversed and still stands.
Artemis Racing faced the Kiwis again on Day 4 with something to prove from the drama of the previous day. However, it wasn't meant to be as the Swedes received another penalty and Emirates Team New Zealand performed well, taking the win by 1 minute 31 seconds. Despite issues with their wingsail, Oracle Team USA took, what appeared to be, an easy win against Groupama Team France. The final race of the day was between Land Rover BAR and Artemis Racing and the pressure was on for Sir Ben Ainslie with only one win so far in the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers. The Brits performed well, achieving the highest speed during the event so far of just over 43 knots which resulted in a comfortable lead and win.
Whilst the weather was ideal for sun worshipers, it wasn't good for racing and so with a lack of wind, the sailing was unable to commence on Day 5 and was pushed into Thursday. SoftBank Team Japan took a much needed victory over the French. Land Rover BAR took on two races - the first proved disastrous against the Kiwis as they fell behind by an entire lap. Emirates Team New Zealand crossed the finish line and Land Rover BAR were so far behind that they decided to retire from the race. Their second attempt of the day proved more successful though, winning against Groupama Team France but only marginally as the French chased their opponents all the way to the finish line. The win means Land Rover BAR are through to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs Semi-Finals and leaves Groupama Team France in a dangerous position.
Here's how the results currently stand and today we hope to see some exciting racing as the weather forecast looks promising and the teams standby to fight for another day in the 35th America's Cup.