Sailing - Ainslie loses to France in setback to America's Cup hopes

With the holders participating in the round-robin qualifiers against their would-be challengers for the first time, Team USA could gain a bonus point to take into next month's finals if they top the standings.

After claiming a maiden victory by beating Artemis Racing yesterday, Groupama Team France took another win in the opening race of the day by beating Land Rover BAR comfortably in race 13. The Kiwis held the lead down the first run but the American's got the split at the bottom gate and stayed out of phase with the Kiwi's but in phase with the wind up the second windward leg.

Oracle opened Saturday's racing with a 2:11 rout of Groupama Team France.

Team Japan tactician Chris Draper said there were "a couple of bruises" among SoftBank crew members and some compression damage to his boat's carbon fibre hull.

It was the Japanese team who made the better start and gave themselves a promising lead out of the start box.

With the course ringed by 2,000 spectator boats, the Jimmy Spithill-led Oracle made the ideal start, winning the opening race, beating the French boat by two minutes and 11 seconds.

This was something of a rehearsal perhaps between the two teams many believe will go through the match for the America's Cup.

However, the four-time Olympic champion then became involved in a start line collision in his second race against SoftBank Team Japan.

Emirates Team New Zealand, the hard-luck loser to Oracle in the 2013 America's Cup, beat Japan and Britain.

That was one of the big questions of the day, and other teams will be poring over the footage in their post-race briefings as they recalibrate the odds.

The New Zealand crew, using a revolutionary cycling set-up to power the hydraulics on their boat, showed speed and manoeuvrability but as the two catamarans screamed towards the grandstand at the finish, they trailed the 6 seconds.

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The battle for the 35th America's Cup will start a day later than planned due to strong winds.

However, the British team put any doubts to bed with an impressive showing, leading from the start and reaching the first mark ahead.

Ainslie was penalized and SoftBank Team Japan, skippered by former Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker, sailed off to a 48-second win.

They must now race all opponents again, starting with Sweden's Artemis on Tuesday.

There was much excitement in the America's Cup Village before the two teams faced off and they certainly didn't disappoint as what ensued was a race full of drama and excitement in a great advert for the America's Cup.

Artemis skipper Nathan Outteridge reacts after losing to Team New Zealand.

Slater says at the time of the protest, ACRM officials weren't certain that Sweden, on port, had given enough space for New Zealand's boat, coming from starboard. The team kept the lead and even as Oracle Team USA closed in on leg five Artemis were able to hang on.

The America's Cup returned this weekend with Ben Ainslie's Land Rover BAR team continuing their quest to become the first British crew to win the famous trophy.

Afterwards a large, fraying crack was visible in the skin of Land Rover BAR under the port hull.

It was a moment that would prove pivotal and costly for Sir Ben Ainslie's team as they had no response in the remainder of the race.

  • Adam Floyd