Tipped as underdogs, the Groupama Team France entrant into the America’s Cup Competition in Bermuda’s Great Sound, upset pre-race favourites Artemis Racing Sweden while the Cup defenders, Oracle Team USA, suffered an ignominious defeat at the hands of the Swedes, who used an old Viking strategy to best the unsuspecting Oracle sailors.
The Swedes were making amends for losing their first race by sinking one of the Goliaths of the affair. They jumped to the front at the start and used an impressive combination of speed and spot-on tactics to win by 39 seconds.
Pre-race favourites Artemis Racing also ran into an unexpected obstacle in the form of the French team in a thriller where the 15-metre boats reached speeds of as high as 40 knots (almost 75 kph).
The U.S. crew did, however, notch a win in the head-to-head through the prowess of Jimmy Spithill of Australia, who out sailed Land Rover BAR skipper Ben Ainslie, whose Olympic exploits have made him the all-time top in that realm.
Emirates Team New Zealand won against Japan. SoftBank Team Japan, skippered by Dean Baker, who was stripped of his commission by the Kiwis after he lost the 2013 Cup to Oracle in San Francisco, proved that he could still steer a boat. They also beat the Poms in resounding fashion, by almost a minute-and-a-half.
The conditions thus far have been essentially ideal. Flat water, yet sprightly breezes made for a display of what the catamarans do best, fly through the water on foils, with their hulls clear of the water.
The Brits seem to be the ones having tough sailing. They nosedived one of their hulls, something like the Kiwis did earlier during the practice phases of the competition.
In the early going, Oracle Team USA is leading. Emirates Team New Zealand occupies third position behind Land Rover BAR Britain.