Frustration in New York for Land Rover BAR

Martin Whitmarsh expressed frustration with the conditions as Land Rover BAR finished fifth overall in the New York round of the America's Cup World Series.

Sunday, 8th May 2016, 9:54 pm
Updated Sunday, 8th May 2016, 10:57 pm
The Land Rover BAR team struggled with the conditions on the Hudson yesterday Picture: Lloyd Images

With Saturday’s racing abandoned due to a lack of wind, the regatta would come down to today’s three events, with double points on offer on Super Sunday.

Conditions improved on the Hudson for day two, but remained difficult as the six teams went head to head under the shadow of the Manhattan skyline.

BAR claimed second place in the opening race, behind Artemis Racing.

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However, skipper and team principal Ben Ainslie was unable to build on his side’s solid start, completing the regatta with two fifth-place finishes.

A bad day on the water was compounded by two penalties for going out of bounds in race three due to bad currents – a manoeuvre that saw the Portsmouth-based side drop from third to fifth.

That cost BAR valuable points in the race for Bermuda 2017, as Emirates Team New Zealand claimed victory in the Big Apple ahead of Oracle Team USA.

They remain third overall in the standings, following victories in Portsmouth and Oman.

But CEO Whitmarsh was hoping for better, particularly off the back of victory on the Arabian Peninsula in February.

‘You come here, it’s a fantastic backdrop, there’s lots of good reasons for it to be a venue for the America’s Cup, but for the sailors it was an incredibly frustrating day,’ said Whitmarsh.

‘There were moments when you could see a gust, moments when you could see the boats pick up with the tide and the currents, choppy winds.

‘It wasn’t a lottery but it must have been so difficult and so frustrating.

‘To come here and get fifth overall, we’re still third in the championship, but, frankly, after Oman, we came here for more than that.’

The opening race on Super Sunday was won in convincing fashion by Artemis Racing, who led from gate one.

BAR enjoyed a fantastic start as they led the fleet out. However, they were always playing second fiddle to the Swedes and soon found themselves playing catch-up.

In fact, leading into gate two they dropped down to fourth position.

But despite a penalty, they soon stormed into second place and held off a late challenge from Emirates Team New Zealand on their approach to the finish line to clinch the runners-up place.

Race two proved problematic for BAR, who had to settle for fifth spot, behind winners Groupama France.

They enjoyed a good start but couldn’t make the most of it as they lost ground – particularly at gate two, where they had to concede ground to Artemis Racing, who eventually finished last on the five-leg race.

No-one could have predicted the outcome of race three.

Emirates Team New Zealand picked up a penalty for crossing the start line early and were further punished when they got tangled up in a buoy.

Oracle Team USA and BAR set the pace out in front, before SoftBank Team Japan leapfrogged both at gate three.

A lack of wind and a strong current on the Hudson ensured two penalties for BAR on the final leg – and that cost them dearly.

As they stalled, Emirates came from nowhere to claim the unlikeliest of wins ahead of Oracle Team USA and Team Japan.

Ainslie had to make do with another fifth-place finish as they finished the regatta in the same spot.

Final Standings: 1 Emirates Team New Zealand (52 points); 2 Oracle Team USA (50); 3 Groupama Team France (44); 4 SoftBank Team Japan (42); 5 Land Rover BAR (42); Artemis Racing (40)