Groupama Team France will not progress to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs after losing today (2nd June) to Emirates Team New Zealand. However, according to Helmsman Franck Cammas, the team will leave with a “smile” on their faces after their final race of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers on Saturday 3rd June.
Heading into today’s Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers Round Robin 2 race against Emirates Team New Zealand, the French team, on two points at the bottom of the standings, knew they had to win to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs.
It was a challenge Groupama Team France could not rise to, with defeat confirming that they will not progress from the first round of competition in the 35th America’s Cup.
However, after exceeding the expectations of many, and their own, and enjoying the highs of upsetting both Artemis Racing and Land Rover BAR, much to the delight of the whole team, Groupama Team France have one race left. They face Artemis Racing in Round Robin 2, race 14, and will then leave this cycle of the America’s Cup with their pride fully intact.
“We are all extremely proud of the work we have done throughout this America’s Cup,” said Cammas.
“Standing here after where we were, even two weeks ago, we have definitely finished with a smile on our faces.
“My feeling is as expected really because we didn’t have big expectations at the start.
“I am really happy with the whole team and I am proud of everything we have managed to achieve.”
In the first race of the day (Round Robin 2, race 8), Emirates Team New Zealand again showed their pedigree with a near perfect performance, easily overcoming SoftBank Team Japan.
The Kiwis, who came into the day sitting second in the standings, just a point behind ORACLE TEAM USA, started the race in the best possible fashion, timing their pre-start perfectly to out-manoeuvre the Japanese team and race clear of their rivals from the start line.
SoftBank Team Japan’s pursuit of the Kiwis was a dealt a blow on leg 3/7 as they suffered a big nosedive while attempting a tack, allowing Emirates Team New Zealand to extend their lead to 23 seconds by the third gate.
It was a lead Peter Burling and his team would not relinquish, sailing magnificently and staying up on their foils for an incredible 99.6% of the whole race, finally easing over the finish line 51 seconds ahead of their Japanese rivals.
The Defenders of the ‘Auld Mug’, ORACLE TEAM USA, took to the water in race 9, but it was their opponents Artemis Racing who claimed the spoils with a pivotal victory in the Swedish team’s aims of qualifying for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs.
Heading into the encounter on just two points, the same amount as bottom-placed Groupama Team France, Artemis Racing knew victory in their two scheduled races today would guarantee their progress from the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers.
A perfect pre-start enhanced their chances of victory as they raced clear of ORACLE TEAM USA heading towards the first mark.
One of Artemis Racing’s two victories in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers prior to the race had come against ORACLE TEAM USA and building on their early lead from the start line, they ultimately repeated that feat, never giving up the lead as ORACLE TEAM USA had no response in their pursuit.
Remaining calm, particularly following a slight nosedive on leg 5, Artemis Racing recovered quickly to cross the finish line 24 seconds ahead of ORACLE TEAM USA.
The victory took them on to three points in the standings, which followed by Groupama Team France’s crucial defeat, proved enough to seal their progression into the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs.
“Today was redemption day for us,” said Artemis Racing helmsman Nathan Outteridge on his team’s vastly improved performances.
“Before today, we had some serious talks amongst ourselves about everything because we had gone from performing really well in practice races to having to question being able to qualify. (for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs).
“We took a step back to see what needed improving and I felt we saw those improvements today.”
That victory for Artemis Racing piled the pressure on Groupama Team France ahead of their battle against the high-flying Emirates Team New Zealand in the very next race (race 10). Franck Cammas’ team knew they had to win to keep their hopes of qualifying for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs alive.
However, it was a challenge Groupama Team France could not overcome as their Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers challenge ended following a disappointing defeat. Groupama Team France have one race left, against Artemis Racing in Round Robin 2, race 14, but the results today mean they cannot progress into the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs.
Ultimately, they failed to muster a strong challenge against the ever-impressive Emirates Team New Zealand, who led from start to finish in what proved a faultless display, finally crossing the line four minutes and six seconds ahead of the French team.
Not only did Emirates Team New Zealand manage to become the first team to complete an entire race on their foils, but in claiming a second victory of the day, they moved on to eight points in the standings which sees them move above ORACLE TEAM USA for the first time. Additionally, the Kiwis became the first team to complete a race whilst staying on their foils 100% of the time around the racecourse.
“The boys all floated the idea of being able to foil for an entire race, It is always the goal and I’m delighted we managed to achieve that,” said Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling, who face ORACLE TEAM USA in a showdown for top spot in the standings tomorrow (Saturday).
“We are all really happy to be top of the standings. Everyone in the team has worked really hard and we have executed our races really well.
“I’m really excited for the race against ORACLE TEAM USA tomorrow. It is a big race for us and it will be great to test ourselves under the pressure.”
Meanwhile, ORACLE TEAM USA’s Jimmy Spithill is relishing the monumental battle that lies ahead against their Kiwi rivals.
“It is a big one tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it,” said Spithill.
“Being in a position where if we beat the Kiwis we get the bonus point is nice.
“We are all really pumped up for that one, it will be one hell of a race.”
After enjoying a morale-boosting victory over ORACLE TEAM USA in race 9, and having their progress into the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs confirmed following Groupama Team France’s defeat to Emirates Team New Zealand, Artemis Racing claimed a second consecutive win of the day by overcoming SoftBank Team Japan in Friday’s final race (race 11).
From the outset, victory never seemed in doubt as the Swedish Team got off the start line ahead of SoftBank Team Japan and led from there on.
SoftBank Team Japan refused to give up the battle, remaining under 20 seconds behind Artemis Racing throughout the entirety of the race. However, there was to be no late drama as the Swedish team maintained their advantage to cross the line 18 seconds ahead of their opposition.
“Today was a disappointing day,” said SoftBank Team Japan helmsman Dean Barker.
“We were close in both races today but we just could not get a victory.”
Photo Credit : Eloi Stichlebaut