Man overboard as Kiwis take lead in America's Cup challenge
Hamilton (Bermuda) (AFP)
Emirates Team New Zealand edged into an early lead in their America's Cup Challenger duel with Artemis Racing on a drama-filled day of racing here Saturday that saw Swedish skipper Nathan Outteridge tossed overboard.
The Kiwis took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-nine series which will determine who challenges Oracle Team USA for the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda's Great Sound.
The New Zealanders won the opening race of the day before Artemis hit back with victory in the second.
But the Kiwis took a 2-1 lead by winning a dramatic third race which saw Artemis skipper Outteridge end up in the drink.
The 31-year-old Australian Olympic gold medallist fell out of his catamaran as he attempted to slide back into his seat from the opposite wing.
With Outteridge missing it left Artemis facing an impossible challenge and they eased up to allow New Zealand, skippered by Peter Burling, to cruise home for the win.
The Kiwis had drawn drawn first blood in the opening race of the day after recovering from a sluggish start to catch their Swedish rivals.
Artemis timed their start to perfection to cross several lengths ahead of the Kiwis and built a comfortable lead at the first mark.
The New Zealanders closed the gap heading into the second gate and a crisp tack put them ahead as the two boats raced towards the third gate.
Artemis then incurred a penalty after straying into a boundary area to leave them trailing by an insurmountable margin, Emirates eventually coasting home by 47 seconds.
Race two meanwhile followed a similar pattern, with Artemis making the better start to edge into an early lead.
This time though Outteridge kept the Swedes out in front, with the Artemis boat up on its foils for the entire race and leading from start to finish.
Artemis had built a six-second lead at gate four and increased it steadily to lead by 19 seconds at the final mark.
From there was only going to be one winner as Sweden surged across the finish line to level the series.
Artemis made another solid start in the third race of the day and appeared to have gained the upper hand before Outerridge's mishap scuppered their race.
The Challenger final resumes on Sunday with three more races.
© 2017 AFP