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Light air for day two of play-off finals

Nathan Outteridge (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Welcome to sailing day 13 of the 35th America’s Cup, presented by Louis Vuitton.

This is the second day of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Play-off Finals.

Three races are scheduled between Artemis Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand, who lead 2-1 after three tight races were sailed yesterday.

This is a best-of-nine series to determine who will face America’s Cup defender Oracle Team USA in the Match for the 35th America’s Cup starting on Saturday.


Artemis had won four in a row in a tough semi-final series. Team New Zealand came into the finals after a pitch-pole loss and two wins over BAR came because of a breakdown on the British boat.

Racing will continue to be close as the boats seem fairly even in speed. Wins will come from good starts that will become more intense as this series evolves. After the start, wins will come on technique and speed into and out of tacks and gybes ... speed through the turns and mark roundings. And wins will come to the team with the fewest mistakes on the course. These competitors cannot cop a penalty and expect to win.

New Zealand can put the series away and earn the America’s Cup challenger slot with three wins today. Any wins by Artemis will extend racing into tomorrow.

If the series goes past the weekend, wind will be a problem. But the event has open days between Monday and the beginning of the America’s Cup Match.

The teams will alternate their side of entry, with Artemis having a port-tack entry for their first start of the day.


Defender Access Period (11am–1pm)

Finals, Race 4: Emirates Team New Zealand v Artemis Racing (2.12pm)

Finals, Race 5: Artemis Racing v Emirates Team New Zealand (2.51pm)

Finals, Race 6: Emirates Team New Zealand v Artemis Racing (3.30pm)


The America’s Cup Event Authority predicts light air today, south-southwesterly at 5-10 knots. Wind models on windguru.com this morning look more promising by race time, with about 12-16 knots predicted in all three models they report.

This is Bermuda, where the wind is certainly fickle at times.

Saturday review

Race 1

It was advantage Artemis when the starting gun fired as Nathan Outteridge crossed the line on time, with speed, three lengths clear ahead of the Kiwi boat. By the time the teams reached the bottom gate for the first time, New Zealand had narrowed the lead to only five seconds.

With two efficient tacks on the upwind leg, New Zealand closed the gap and with the boats approaching the edge of the course, Artemis made an unforced error, sailing just out of bounds, again, for a two-boat-length penalty. Burling and his Kiwi team took the advantage and extended the rest of the way to go up 1-0, winning by 47 seconds.

Race 2

Artemis Racing won the start cleanly over New Zealand. They set up to leeward and were first across the starting line for the second consecutive race. On the reach to mark one, skipper Outteridge used classic match-racing techniques and kept pushing the Kiwi boat to windward, away from the mark, before turning downwind and accelerating sooner and faster than the Kiwis to hold the lead.

Once again, Burling kept it close, not splitting until the final windward gate, hoping superior boat speed would allow him through. But Outteridge and his tactician, Iain Percy, covered New Zealand and relied on every trick in their match-racing bag to cover their opponent. Artemis covered when they were going upwind, slowing the Kiwi charge with wing wash (bad air) from their 77ft sail.

It was a hard-fought 15-second win for the Swedish challenger to level the finals at 1-1.

Race 3

Race three was an even start. Artemis was set up slightly to windward and accelerated well off the starting line to lead into mark one by less than three seconds. Trailing into the first bottom gate for the third consecutive race, New Zealand chose to split away this time rounding the opposite mark and taking an opposite tack from Artemis. The Kiwis were looking for a favourable wind shift as a passing lane.

It nearly worked. The boats converged at the windward gate with Artemis ahead by less than one length. With a split on the downwind leg, Artemis found a line of wind to increase speed and stretch their lead slightly, but a bad gybe approaching the gate meant the lead was just three seconds.

The first cross on the upwind left Artemis ahead by less than two boat lengths. The next one was even closer and Burling had the favoured right hand side for the final meeting.

But in a dramatic turn of events, on the final tack to the gate, the Artemis helmsman slid off their boat as he bounced across the trampoline. Without their helmsman, the shocked Artemis crew quickly fell farther behind and limped down the final run, retiring from the race after the Kiwis finished for the win and a 2-1 series lead.