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Team BDA make waves with sensational start

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Team BDA in action (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

From complete exhilaration to downright frustration, Team BDA experienced a rollercoaster ride of emotions on the opening day of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Finals.

The home favourites enjoyed a fairytale start in the first of three races yesterday, with a virtually faultless performance on the Great Sound to win by a comfortable margin.

Mackenzie Cooper, the Team BDA skipper, and his crew were greeted by howls of delight by the hordes of blue-and-red clad supporters in the packed grandstand as they crossed the finish line.

They crashed back down to earth in the second race, however, finishing last before being narrowly beaten to the line by SVB Team Germany in the final outing to place sixth.

“It was a crazy day of ups and downs,” said Cooper, whose team are sixth in the overall standings on 18 points.

“To win the first race was a great feeling. We were super happy, but we didn’t have a great second one and had to really fight to get sixth [in the third].”

Cooper admits they could barely contain their euphoria after making a magnificent start to the finals by shedding their maiden.

They came close twice in the pool B qualifiers with a pair of second-place finishes to take fourth overall.

“Everyone was bursting inside but trying to not to show it as much as they were actually feeling.

“To come across that last reach to a full grandstand with people waving Bermuda flags and chanting ‘BDA’ — well, it’s something I’ll never forget. It was an incredible experience.”

The Bermudians had little time to bask in their glory, though, with the three fleet races coming thick and fast.

Cooper insists they were not “too high on life” after their triumph and put their disappointing finish in the second race down to a piece of indecision on his behalf.

Having made a slow start, Team BDA fought their way back into the mid-pack but lost ground because of a poor gybe at the second gate before picking up a costly penalty.

“It’s really hard regardless of where you finish because they really like to fire the races off one after another,” Cooper said. “I didn’t start us very well, but we had a really nice run and gained a lot back.

“Just looking around the course, I thought there was better breeze [on the right-hand side of the course] and we wanted to get there.

“The Germans had a really good gybe and unfortunately the Kiwis did as well.

“We then copped a penalty and not knowing the most efficient way to get rid of it really put us on the back foot.”

Although the picture could be a lot rosier for Team BDA heading into tomorrow’s finale, a gutsy showing in the third race at least keeps them within touching distance of the leaders.

And with the team’s fans sure to descend in their droves to the America’s Cup Village to cheer them on, Cooper said they are determined to give them plenty to get excited about.

“Tomorrow is our last day to put on a show for Bermuda, and we want to come out firing,” Cooper added.

“The support never gets old; the chants, the horns. A full grandstand for the Youth America’s Cup is pretty incredible. You won’t get that anywhere else.

“Anything can happen, we’ve already seen that and so we won’t stop believing we can win this. We will fix the mistakes we’ve made and come back stronger tomorrow.”

Land Rover BAR Academy lead the eight-team fleet on 28 points after a first and two seconds, Team Tilt from Switzerland second and Team France Jeune third, both on 21 points.

Team BDA wave to the crowd after their stunning first race (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)