Defending champions and British boat share lead

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DOCKYARD, Bermuda, May 27, CMC – Oracle Team USA, the defending champions, and British entry Land Rover BAR shared the lead on three points after day one of the qualifiers at the month-long 35th America’s Cup in the Great Sound on Saturday as Groupama Team France finished winless.
Land Rover BAR went into the qualifiers with two bonus points after winning the earlier America’s Cup World Series, but have been slow in practice since setting up their base here in January.
Oracle, who have won the two previous editions of the cup, set up their base here two years ago. They started the day with one bonus point and added two more points after easily winning their two races.
Land Rover BAR, who won the day’s fourth race with a narrow 11-second victory over Sweden’s more fancied Artemis Racing, ended on a low after suffering damage before the start in a collision with SoftBank Team Japan.
The British boat, skippered by Sir Ben Ainsley, was penalised two boat lengths at the starting line and never recovered as the Japanese surged clear to complete a 48-second victory.
There was damage to the boat’s hull as layers of carbon could be seen peeling away throughout the race.
Land Rover Bar now face a race against the clock to get the boat repaired in time for more qualifiers on Sunday.
“Our boat is pretty badly damaged,” Ainslie said. “It’s got a sizeable hole in the port hull and actually it was a great effort by the team to get the boat around the course in the state it was.”
Britain is seeking to win the cup for the first time in its 166-year history.
Artemis picked up a point by beating the Japanese boat by 13 seconds.
With the course ringed by 2,000 spectator boats, the Jimmy Spithill-led Oracle made the perfect start, winning the opening race, beating the French boat by two minutes and 11 seconds.
Oracle made it two wins for the day but were pushed all the way by Emirates Team New Zealand in race five, crossing the finish line six seconds ahead.
The start of the qualifiers was delayed by 24 hours because of strong winds but perfect weather greeted the thousands of visitors and locals here for there biggest sporting event in Bermuda’s history.

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