Kiwis fall head over heels
Emirates Team New Zealand’s campaign took a nosedive along with their boat after it capsized in spectacular fashion into the rough Bermuda seas yesterday.
There was high drama as the Kiwis flipped over in the start box amid the ferocious conditions in race four of their Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Play-off Semi-finals against Land Rover BAR.
Team New Zealand are now in a race against time to get back on the water today, although Peter Burling, the helmsman, insists the “significant damage” to their America’s Cup Class boat is repairable.
Some of the crew were thrown overboard while others, including Burling, remained trapped in the vessel as it teetered upright while they waited for the safety boat to arrive.
“First, and the most important thing for us, is that all the guys on board are safe and with no major injuries,” Burling said.
“The [shore crew] are already working on the repairs. We will bounce back from this. We will get the boat back to 100 per cent at some stage and get back out there.
“As a group of New Zealanders, we are incredibly resilient; we saw that in the first race to start that.”
Burling had steered his team to a comfortable win in the first race, but not without some nervous moments, as their boat suffered wing damage heading on to the course.
After heading back to their base to frantically fit their replacement, the Kiwis had just minutes to spare before joining BAR — also racing with a spare wing after suffering damage on Monday — on the start line.
“The first race was a massive effort for the whole team,” said Burling, whose team lead BAR 3-1.
“We sustained a fair bit of damage to our wing and had to head straight back to fit our second wing and try to get back out there for the start.
“It was amazing to see our whole team come together, and to be able to repay them with a race win was incredibly pleasing. That definitely was a full team effort.”
Sir Ben Ainslie, the BAR skipper, described yesterday’s racing as akin to “skiing on ice” and said it would be unfair to criticise Burling’s handling of the boat.
“In 30 years of racing, it is the most exhilarating sailing I’ve ever had,” Ainslie said.
“The most important thing is that everyone is OK on Emirates Team New Zealand after the capsize. We look forward to them being back on the racecourse.”
With two wins over Artemis Racing, the day certainly belonged to SoftBank Team Japan, who have now opened a two-race lead after some superb helmsmanship by Dean Barker.
“We are obviously thrilled with the day; that was pretty full-on by anyone’s standards,” Barker, the Team Japan skipper, said.
“The boats were just flying around and we had our top speed in the boat since we’ve been sailing it.
“It’s a fantastic effort from the guys on the boat and when you get a course like we had today, it’s very taxing on the crew. They all did an amazing job today.”