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Louis Vuitton ACWS, poised on a knife edge Louis Vuitton ACWS, poised on a knife edge
The results of the first day of racing at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Toulon, the penultimate round of the series before... Louis Vuitton ACWS, poised on a knife edge

Toulon – The results of the first day of racing at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Toulon, the penultimate round of the series before Bermuda 2017, leaves the overall leaderboard closer than ever, with everything to play for across the whole pack on Sunday.

Oracle Team USA and Land Rover BAR are now tied on the same points heading into Sunday, but it is Artemis Racing who really basked in the Mediterranean sunshine on Saturday, taking two first places and a third to dominate the first day of racing, held in light winds.

In race one Softbank Team Japan were first over the line and held their lead down to the first mark with Emirates Team New Zealand breathing down their necks. At that point Oracle Team USA were in fifth, but the American boat fought its way back up to second by the third mark, just behind Artemis Racing who really were mastering the conditions. At the finish line the Swedish boat took their first spoils of the weekend, Emirates Team New Zealand were second, Oracle Team USA third, Groupama Team France fourth and Softbank Team Japan and Land Rover BAR fifth and sixth respectively.

Race two started with Groupama Team France crossing the line fractionally early for the second race in a row, incurring a penalty that sent groans singing out across the home fans, but it was Artemis Racing who picked up where they left off in race one and who were first around mark one. On the leg two run the Swedes extended their lead over Emirates Team New Zealand and Softbank Team Japan, with Land Rover BAR just ahead of Oracle Team USA, but Groupama Team France fought back hard and clawed their way back into contention after serving their startline penalty. At gate two the French team were just one second ahead of Softbank Team Japan and the British and American teams who were fighting it out for fifth and sixth.

Around gate three it was still Nathan Outteridge’s crew ahead, but the Kiwis were pushing them all the way to the finish line but finally, again, Artemis Racing were victorious for the second time on Saturday. Emirates Team New Zealand were second, Groupama Team France third, Softbank Team Japan fourth and Oracle Team USA fifth. Land Rover BAR brought up the rear, looking like they were struggling to come to terms with the vagaries of light winds and the Toulon waters.

Race three capped off a very tense afternoon of racing and, yet again, Artemis Racing were at the sharp end of the pack at the start. However, in the final race of the day, Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR had finally pushed themselves up into contention in the opening stages of the race, with Oracle Team USA also making amends for their race two result, and as they rounded the first mark, the Americans headed off on their own to find wind, and that move paid off, putting clear air between themselves and Groupama Team France who were starting to show consistency on home waters.

Artemis Racing dropped back through the pack and found themselves in a fight for third and fourth with Land Rover BAR, but on leg three the British team found good wind and moved up into first place, ahead of their old foes on Oracle Team USA.

Demonstrating perfectly the utterly unpredictable nature of America’s Cup racing in the modern era, the British team went from last to first in just two races, and ended the final race of Saturday first, but Groupama Team France raised French hopes for a Super Sunday as they finished second, mere metres behind their British rivals who finally made up for their last place finishes in races one and two.

Louis Vuitton ACWS – Toulon
1. Artemis Racing (1, 1, 3) – 28 points
2. Groupama Team France (4, 3, 2)– 24 points
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (2, 2, 6) – 23 points
4. Oracle Team USA (3, 5, 4) – 21 points
5. Land Rover BAR (6, 6, 1) – 20 points

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Overall Leaderboard
1. Land Rover BAR – 387 points
2. Oracle Team USA – 387 points
3. Emirates Team New Zealand – 380 points
4. SoftBank Team Japan – 347 points
5. Artemis Racing – 343 points

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