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Land Rover BAR make next stage of America's Cup

Another nail-biting 'will-they-won't-they' win saw Land Rover BAR scrape through to the Challenger Play-Off Semi-Finals round of the 35th America's Cup.BAR beat Groupama -

After outclassing Frank Cammas on Groupama Team France at the start - an Anslie speciality - the two teams battled each other and a dodgey breeze to see who could stay on their foils longest.

This being the key to victory in all four races Thursday.

BAR went for the finish line foiling on starboard, as Groupama struggled to get back on theirs after crossing and tacking ahead.

Groupama were forced to dip BAR at the next cross, while Ainslie was able to nurse BAR onto the layline and accross for a very important win for British interest in the rest of this event.

You have to wish Sir Ben's PR team would stop tweeting about how fast he went and just let us know when he wins. The relationship is not clear when they look so outpaced most of the time.

Earlier in the afternoon after several postponements, Softbank Japan and Groupama Team France sailed a slow motion match, especially for the Frnch who finished 5.59 behind the Japanese team.

Somehow Dean Barker kept SoftBank on its foils and built a leg lead as Groupama struggled to foil.

Emirates Team New Zealand did a similar job on the Brits, even after Ainlsie got away at speed, only to dunk it on the bear-away leaving Burling with a 300+ m lead.

ETNZ were round gate 4 before BAR rounded gate 3, over 6 minutes ahead. There was no second as Ainslie pulled the plug and headed home.

Match 3 was a more classy affair. Oracle USA and Softbank Japan raced the full course, with Barker pulling a quick penalty on Spithill to race away to a 23 second lead at mark 1.

Japan kept the lead up to gate 4, rounding 22 sec ahead, where they split tacks again. At the cross Oracle just went behind them but then took the lead with better windspeed.

Oracle rounded gate 5 ahead by 35 sec to keep the lead and win by 32 seconds in a tight match.

With the light wind conditions its difficult to compare with earlier rounds, but it's worrying that NZL, Japan and USA seemed to cope so well with foiling/tacking in those conditions, while GBR and FRA struggled.

They seemed to be similar, both off the light weather condition pace.

Noticeable were the longer, kinked foils of ETNZ and their slick team work. Burling chucking the boat round the corners like a dinghy.

ETNZ are looking confident, mostly making all the right moves.

BAR will need to raise their game to live in the playoffs and it seems a big ask, as Ainslie's starting skill is just not enough to cover all the gaps.

Click image for a larger image

ETNZ and Land Rover BAR are through - Click image for a larger image

Land Rover BAR do not race Friday, they are back for two final races Saturday. Team back in the spotlight Friday will be Artemis of Iain Percy.

After one team is eliminated Saturday, the Semi Final Playoffs will start Sunday 4 June.

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