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Kiwis end British hopes, reach America’s Cup challenger final

Update: June, 09/2017 - 11:32
Emirates Team New Zealand (left) rounds the mark ahead of Land Rover BAR (right) during the qualifying races of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup in the Great Sound, Bermuda on 08 June. EPA/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

Yachting

HAMILTON — Emirates Team New Zealand reached the America’s Cup challenger final on Thursday, shaking off the scary capsize that threatened their quest to end the challenge of Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR.

Two days after the Kiwi catamaran was damaged when it flipped in the wind-whipped waters of Bermuda’s Great Sound, New Zealand won two of three races against BAR to take their semi-final series 5-2.

They will face either SoftBank Team Japan or Artemis Racing of Sweden for the right to take on holders Oracle Team USA in the 35th America’s Cup Match starting on June 17.

Artemis, down 3-1 to start the day, won all three races on Thursday to take a 4-3 lead in the best-of-nine series.

New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling made the most of his boat’s superior speed in opening the day with a victory that took his team’s lead to 4-1.

Trailing badly after control issues in the pre-start, Burling kept his cool and erased a gap of some 400 meters, seizing the lead on the penultimate leg and crossing the line 31 seconds in front.

Four-time Olympic champion Ainslie battled back with a masterful victory in the second race to fend off elimination, but New Zealand seized the advantage at the start of the third race and went on to a decisive win.

"That last race we knew what we had to do to win," said Burling, who credited the Kiwi shore crew’s massive effort in getting his boat ready to sail.

"Full credit to the shore team for getting us out here," Burling said adding that the Kiwi boat was "just as fast, if not faster" than before its dramatic plunge on Tuesday, which sent three crew members overboard and stranded three more on the crippled craft.

New Zealand are now one step closer to a rematch with Oracle Team USA — who rallied from 8-1 down to beat the Kiwis in the 34th America’s Cup four years ago.

Ainslie played a key role in Team USA’s miraculous comeback in San Francisco, but he couldn’t translate that success with his homegrown outfit.

"I was really proud of the way the team sailed today and the way we approached the whole series," Ainslie said. "The whole team, the designers, the shore team, the sailing team, everyone worked really hard to get us competitive. We did that throughout the competition.

"We will be back next time and we will be stronger," he vowed. AFP

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