Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand squad has earned a rematch against ORACLE TEAM USA for the 35th America’s Cup with a convincing victory over Artemis Racing in the final match of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs. It was a nerve-wracking afternoon for the New Zealand team and its fans. With their team on match point, the first attempt at sailing race seven was abandoned after the wind died with Emirates Team New Zealand holding the lead. But in the second attempt at racing, Burling won the start over his counterpart on Artemis Racing, Nathan Outteridge, and led into mark one for the first time in the series.
From there, the Kiwis showed blazing speed, extending around the race course for what appeared to be an easy race win, a 5-2 victory in the series, and a date in the America’s Cup against ORACLE TEAM USA.
In 2013, in San Francisco, ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill led his team to one of the greatest comebacks in sport, racing back from a 1-8 deficit to win 9-8 over Emirates Team New Zealand. But Peter Burling wasn’t on that team. In fact, the only holdover on the Kiwi starting crew is wing trimmer and skipper Glenn Ashby. The 2017 Emirates Team New Zealand doesn’t appear to be scarred from that experience.
“I think the lessons we learned out of San Francisco has made us stronger going forwards,” Ashby said at the post-race press conference. “The team has been re-built from the ground up and what has been created is a stronger unit than we’ve ever seen before. The motivation going forwards is certainly there.”
“We feel like we’re in great shape to take on (ORACLE TEAM USA) now,” Burling said from on board just after crossing the finishing line. “Artemis Racing has been an amazing opponent. They’ve pushed us incredibly hard… they've put us in good shape for the Cup.”
After racing, the inaugural Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs Trophy was presented to Emirates Team New Zealand by Grant Gibbons, Bermuda’s Minister of Economic Development at a prize-giving ceremony in the America’s Cup Village. The America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, starts on June 17.
Race Report -- Race Seven:
The re-sail of Race Seven started in a 6 to 8 knot southerly, and the pre-start featured both boats heading to the line on timed runs. Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand had a strong leeward position off the starting line and held Nathan Outteridge up above the line to mark one, to lead around for the first time in the series. With the Kiwis extending on the short run to the bottom gate, Artemis Racing was soon 19-seconds back, early in the race, facing a New Zealand team that always appeared to be sailing faster. By the windward gate, the wind had shifted to the right, making passing lanes hard to find. But by that stage, Artemis Racing was a full 35-seconds behind. At the end, the delta was nearly a minute.
Race Report -- Race Seven – ABANDONED – to be re-sailed:
The first attempt at sailing race seven was abandoned on the second run, when the time limit expired due to a dying breeze.
Quotes of the day:
Iain Percy, on who is going to win the America’s Cup: “We don’t know. That’s the beauty of this competition. Honestly, when we started today we didn’t know who was going to win it… It’s blown me away, the racing, doing it. And part of that excitement is because you never know who is going to win, even in the race. Anything can happen. And because of that we can’t tell you who is going to win this thing. But I can tell you it will be the most entertaining sporting contest of 2017.”
Iain Percy, Artemis Racing, on what advice he would give to ORACLE TEAM USA and Emirates Team New Zealand: “You can’t assume anything. Anything can happen on the day. It will come down to sailing. There won’t be enough speed difference for one team to win without sailing well… Each individual’s performance on the water will define the result ultimately. It’s so complex it’s about detail and attention to detail.”
Nathan Outteridge, Artemis Racing, reflecting on having sailed his last race: “We can be really proud of the way we raced. We’ve had some really close matches and we left everything out there on the water, we pushed hard in every race… We thoroughly enjoyed the competition. I’m very proud of the team – they’ve put in so much effort over the years and it was nice to reward them by getting to the final.
Peter Burling, Emirates Team New Zealand, on handling the pressure as the youngest helmsman in the fleet: “I think it is full credit to our team. We have a great bunch of guys, around, from management throughout to the coaches, who can guide us through… We’re just really excited about the challenge ahead. We’ve been pushed really hard in the past couple of weeks and we’ll take it easy for a day but we’re a lot stronger for it heading into the Match.”
Glenn Ashby, Emirates Team New Zealand, on being battle-hardened through the competition against Artemis Racing: “Having not done a lot of racing against any other AC50s, the battle we had against Artemis Racing the past few days has certainly been very, very valuable for us. Hats off to those guys for how they sailed. They put together an amazing campaign and who ever made it through this was going to be stronger because of that. They gave us a couple of good sailing lessons and there’s no doubt we’re a stronger team because of it.