America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs Are Here

June 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

With the conclusion of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers barely behind us, the action and drama resumes all over again today [Sunday] with the start of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs.

At the conclusion of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers yesterday [Saturday], Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand finished second in the final standings, one point behind eventual winners, Jimmy Spithill’s Oracle Team USA.

America's Cup Challenger Playoffs (3)

Jimmy and Oracle Team USA won the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers and, with that victory, go into the America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton with a valuable point already on the board.

However, with Oracle Team USA’s place in the America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, already assured as the Defenders of the ‘Auld Mug’, Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand were handed the opportunity to select their opposition in the next stage after finishing as the next highest seeded team from the final Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers standings.

Faced with the opportunity of taking on Nathan Outteridge and Artemis Racing, Dean Barker’s SoftBank Team Japan or Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR, Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Burling opted to face off against Sir Ben and the British team, meaning the other semi-final will see Nathan Outteridge’s Artemis Racing face off against Dean Barker’s SoftBank Team Japan.

Today will see the start of those intriguing and high-pressure battles commence with the two pairings [Emirates Team New Zealand vs Land Rover BAR and Artemis Racing vs SoftBank Team Japan] facing each other twice over four scheduled races, as each team aims to gain the early advantage in the battle for a place in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs Final.

America's Cup Challenger Playoffs (1)

Emirates Team New Zealand and Land Rover Bar will kick off proceedings today, with their second encounter following on in the third scheduled race of the day.

Explaining his team’s decision to choose to face Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR, Emirates Team New Zealand’s helmsman Burling said: “We believe with the forecasts over the coming week that it represents our best chance of progressing through.”

In response, Sir Ben Ainslie, whose Land Rover BAR team finished third in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers standings on six points, is prepared for the challenge ahead.

“It is going to be a close race, but to win the America’s Cup you have to beat all the teams,” said Ainslie.

“Emirates Team New Zealand have certainly proved through this qualifying round to be sailing really well. They are very fast and so for us it will be a real battle.

“However, we are up for it and looking forward to it.”

Turning the attention to the other Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs semi-final, SoftBank Team Japan helmsman Dean Barker is expecting close contests against Artemis Racing.

“We’ve done a lot of racing against Artemis Racing over the last 18 months and we’ve had some great battles,” said Barker.

America's Cup Challenger Playoffs (2)

“We know they are a very strong team, I’m sure the racing is going to be very close and it will be interesting all the way through,”

Meanwhile, rival helmsman Nathan Outteridge reflected on his team’s previous success against SoftBank Team Japan as they prepare to lock horns once again.

“We are excited to be here,” said Outteridge.

“We know that to go and beat Oracle Team USA [in the America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton] we now have to beat SoftBank Team Japan and Emirates Team New Zealand.

“We are up for the challenge and excited to go and do that. We’ve beaten them [SoftBank Team Japan] twice in the qualifying races and that gives the team some confidence moving forward.”

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