America's Cup: New Zealand hold final lead after Swedish skipper goes overboard

Rufina Vignone
Giugno 15, 2017

Artemis Racing of Sweden has clinched a spot in the America's Cup challenger finals by beating SoftBank Team Japan for the fourth straight race.

Japan's America's Cup dream ended as SoftBank Team Japan went down 5-3 to Sweden's Artemis Racing in their semifinal on Friday.

New Zealand showed the same slick consistency they have done throughout the challenger series, keeping their 50-foot (15 metre) foiling catamaran above the water for much of the time.

But it was another crushing disappointment for SoftBank skipper Dean Barker who was left reflecting on another blown America's Cup lead.

The outcome was a bitter pill to swallow for Barker, who as a former Emirates Team New Zealand skipper who was on the wrong end of one of sports greatest comebacks four years ago in San Francisco when Team New Zealand squandered an 8-1 lead to lose the 34th Americas Cup Match 9-8 to defender Oracle Team USA.

"We were really happy to fight our way back into that last race", he said.

Outteridge's tumble was the latest mayhem in the challenger series.

Helmsman Peter Burling thanked his shore team for getting the New Zealand catamaran back to racing condition after it "pitch-poled" in a semi-final race against Ainslie on Tuesday, damaging the hulls and shredding their towering "wing" sail.

Three more races are scheduled for Sunday. Down to five crewmen, Artemis eased up.

"We had just battled our way back in and it was obviously a bit of a shame". Again in the third race Burling was outgunned at the start.

"I've dried out a little bit, but apart from that, I'm fine", Outteridge told the post-race press conference afterwards.

Shortly after leaving its base for the race course Friday, SoftBank Team Japan hit something hard enough to jostle the crew.

But he empathised with his Australian counterpart, having tumbled from the boat himself while Team New Zealand were preparing in Auckland. "We are here to win the next series and then bring the cup home to New Zealand", Burling said, reflecting the understated nature of the Kiwi campaign from the outset of this controversial cycle of sport's oldest contest. Skipper Russell Coutts handed the wheel to Barker, his understudy, for the clinching fifth race.

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