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sabato 3 giugno 2017
A smashing start to the 35th America's Cup - Barker: " We were incredibly lucky"
Sir Ben Ainslie was forced to explain a highly dramatic collision in the first day of the Louis
Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers on Bermuda’s Great Sound.
Having already seen some
thrilling and action-packed racing in the first five of the six races that were run on day one,
particularly from ORACLE TEAM USA who claimed back-to-back wins, the drama really
unfolded in the final race of the day between Land Rover BAR and SoftBank Team Japan.
In what proved the biggest flashpoint of the afternoon, both teams were looking for the advantage
going into the start box, before the two boats collided at speed, resulting in a penalty being given
to Sir Ben Ainslie and the British team. Damage was sustained to both boats, with the Olympic
legends’ boat taking on water after the incident.
In scenes similar to the final week of practice racing, in which Land Rover BAR hit Emirates
Team New Zealand, Ainslie again found himself having to defend his actions when questioned
“To be honest, to me it appeared six of one and half a dozen of the other,” said the Land Rover
Bar helmsman, whose team suffered defeat in their second race of the day having enjoyed a
morale-boosting win over Artemis Racing earlier in the day in race four.
“The collision was obviously unfortunate but these things happen when you are racing these boats.
“You don’t go out there intending to cause damage and so on that front it is was unfortunate to
see both boats with damage.
“Unfortunately I’m not a boat builder so I’m not sure about the extent of the damage just yet,
but no doubt both shore teams will be working incredibly hard to make sure we are both ready
“However, for me it was fantastic just to see us competing and up to speed with all of the others.
I believe we have silenced a lot of our doubters and I am just incredibly proud of all of our team.”
Meanwhile, SoftBank Team Japan helmsman Dean Barker, whose team suffered defeat to
Artemis Racing in their first race of the day, bounced back with victory in race six and was
relieved that none of his team had sustained any injuries in the collision with Land Rover BAR.
“We were incredibly lucky that there was no injuries sustained by the guys,” said the New
Zealand native. “Maybe they were still in a bit of shock when we started racing but the way they
regrouped and got back into things was fantastic.
“Ben has apologised. Clearly it was their mistake because they caused it but it doesn’t stop
the guys in the shore team having to have a big workload tonight to put things right.
“You know what is about to happen. You can see it coming in slow motion but there is nothing
you can do to stop it.
“What would have been worse is if their boat came a little bit higher over our hull, that would
have been really dangerous.
“Fortunately we were able to carry on with the race and limp our way home. The guys did
brilliantly to regroup in reply to what happened and get on with the race.
“The first race against Artemis Racing was disappointing. We had good pace and obviously
tried hard to keep ahead but ultimately we couldn’t.
“However, what was pleasing was how we bounced back and got that victory in the final race.”
Meanwhile, it proved a highly positive day for the Defenders of the ‘Auld Mug’, ORACLE TEAM
USA, who comfortably beat Groupama Team France in the opening race of the afternoon,
before coming from behind to overcome Emirates Team New Zealand in what proved the
highlight race of the day.
However, despite seeing ORACLE TEAM USA sit joint top of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup
Qualifiers standings with three points, alongside Land Rover BAR, skipper Jimmy Spithill was
left far from content as he refused to rest on his laurels ahead of day two tomorrow.
“The lads aren’t happy tonight. We can definitely sharpen up a lot ahead of tomorrow,” said the
two-time America’s Cup winner.
“Of course it is good to end the first day with two wins from two races but we have got to
sharpen up on what we do out there.
“Consistency is the key in a competition like this and so there is a lot for us to improve on.
“However, as I said, it is pleasing that we managed to finish this first day of competition and come away with two race wins.”
Another helmsman who was left with mixed feelings was Artemis Racing’s Nathan Outteridge
having seen his side claim a victory against SoftBank Team Japan, before somewhat
surprisingly losing out to Land Rover BAR in race 4.
“It proved a very tiring first day of racing,” said Outteridge.
“Our first race we started slowly but you could see how hard we pushed to get back into the
race and when the opportunity came, we took full advantage.
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