Sailing-France eliminated from America's Cup after loss to New Zealand

America's Cup Bermuda May 31 2017

Emirates Team New Zealand kept up the pressure on defending America's Cup champions Oracle Team USA on Friday, beating SoftBank Team Japan and drawing level on points with the US team who were convincingly beaten by Sweden's Artemis Racing.

With one day of round-robin racing to be sailed yesterday, the challenger semi-finalists were decided - New Zealand, Sweden, Britain's Land Rover BAR and Japan.

The first crew in each of the two semi-finals to win five races progresses to the challenger final and whoever wins that takes on defending champions Team USA for the America's Cup itself.

Emirates Team New Zealand was almost flawless in winning two races to jump to 8 points in the qualifiers, one more than Oracle.

The result means the US team will have a point lead against whoever gets to challenge them in a head-to-head match, which will be won by the first team to get to seven points.

Team NZ will take on the British Ben Ainslie Racing syndicate in this week's Louis Vuitton America's Cup challenger playoffs.

Unlike Britain's Land Rover BAR and Groupama Team France who built their own boats from scratch, Japan bought their design from the US holders of the cup.




Oracle will now train on its own while the challengers sail their semifinals, which start Sunday, and finals.

Both crews reached speeds of more than 40 knots as they screeched around the natural race course, with the New Zealand team putting their revolutionary "cycling" sailors to work to provide the power needed to drive the boat's hydraulics.

If Oracle wins the qualifiers, it will carry a one-point bonus into the first-to-seven America's Cup match beginning June 17. The French skipper Franck Cammas said in a televised interview that he was not yet sure whether Groupama would be supporting them for another tilt at the America's Cup. But they have also lost to Team France, who will be eliminated from the regatta after today, and twice to Ben Ainslie Racing (GBR), who have struggled for form.

Trying to improve: But there was even better to come as New Zealand became the first team to achieve an official "perfect" race, foiling around the entire course without touching their hulls down to beat France by four minutes and six seconds. If Oracle beats the Kiwis, it would clinch the bonus point on a tiebreaker based on standings in the America's Cup World Series the last two years.

Australian skipper Jimmy Spithill on board Team USA had the better of Team NZ helmsman Peter Burling in the pre-start, earning a penalty in the process. Oracle then won eight straight races in one of the greatest comebacks in sports to keep the Auld Mug.

And their decision, announced at today's post-race press conference in Bermuda, leaves Dean Barker and Team Japan to face in-form Artemis Racing (Sweden) in the other semifinal, starting tomorrow.

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