America's Cup qualifiers off to smashing start in Bermuda

Near gale delays first America's Cup races to Saturday

The British were penalised, but continued around the course, eventually losing by 48 seconds.

Oracle Team USA rallied to edge Emirates Team New Zealand Saturday as the 35th America's Cup got underway with two wins for two-time defending champions Oracle and a collision involving Ben Ainslie's Land Rover BAR.

The British outfit, led by Sir Ben Ainslie, go into qualifying with two bonus points from the America's Cup World Series that began in 2015 - but they've been worryingly slow in practice racing in Bermuda this month. The Kiwis had crossed the finish line before France had rounded the final mark.

"It's good to get back out there against them", said Spithill, an Australian.

"The boys sailed the boat very nicely. We haven't done a huge amount of yachting in the last coupe of weeks, so our learning curve will be pretty steep". Oracle were trailing 4-0 when he replaced John Kostecki as tactician on board Oracle.

The 35th America's Cup is being contested in 49ft 2ins, wing-sailed, foiling catamarans, crewed by six - a far cry from Reliance, the 1903 victor which was four times as long and had 64 on board.

The American team took almost 40 seconds out of their rivals on the third leg and showed far greater control of their AC50 boat in flawless sailing conditions.




But on all three locations monitored by Predictwind.com the wind strength is clearly outside the limits allowed for racing with out the need for the Regatta Director to exercise his discretion to take safety consideration into account.

Ainsley, a 40-year-old Englishman, who won four Olympic sailing gold medals between 2000 and 2012, is on his fourth America's Cup campaign, having helped Oracle win the cup four years ago.

Only four countries, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland, have won the cup since the schooner "America" first claimed it off the south coast of England in 1851.

Team New Zealand sizzled to victory by over two minutes in the ideal start in Bermuda.

"The key to that was just keeping it close the whole race", said Outteridge afterwards. "We're even more obsessed with this". We won that, which was wonderful for us, and now we're into the nitty-gritty and the real important stuff of the America's Cup.

Should Land Rover BAR navigate their way through to the America's Cup showdown, which starts from June 17, their chances of success in Bermuda will rely heavily on the relationship between helmsman Ainslie and Scott.

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