Nathan Outteridge, the skipper of Artemis Racing, woke up Thursday morning staring down a 3-1 deficit in his Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoff semi final match against Dean Barker’s SoftBank Team Japan.
But by mid-afternoon Friday, Outteridge and his team had won four consecutive races, claiming the match 5-3, and landing a date in the Challenger Playoff Finals against Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand.
Conditions on Friday were near the top end of the wind spectrum at 19-22 knots. Earlier this week, in similar strong weather conditions, Barker had beat Outteridge in both races sailed. He needed to pull off the same trick today if his team was to advance, but with a loss in the first race, SoftBank Team Japan was eliminated from the competition.
In the pre-start to the race, Barker pushed Artemis Racing skipper Nathan Outteridge towards the starting line early and as the Swedish challenger slowed so as not to break the start prematurely, Barker put his bows down, the boat raised up on its foils and Japan sped away to mark one with a narrow lead.
Outteridge kept it close on the first run and then on the upwind leg he made the pass. As Artemis Racing tacked at the edge of the race course, Barker was required to give room. A moment of hesitation meant SoftBank Team Japan made a late tack that left the boat in a vulnerable position and Outteridge pounced. With rights he luffed aggressively. Barker kept clear, but was pushed to a standstill, head to wind, while Artemis sped off into the lead and into the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoff Finals with what would be recorded as a 12-second win.
“Absolutely stoked,” was the reaction from Outteridge on board immediately following the race.
“That was a tough race and to come back the boys really had to dig in. We’re really happy to take it to the next round and we’re going to be ready to go tomorrow.”
Outteridge and Artemis Racing, after recovering from a 3-1 deficit to win the series 5-3 over Japan, will now face Peter Burling and Emirates Team New Zealand beginning at 14:08 local time in Bermuda on Saturday. The winner of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs advances to the America’s Cup Match against ORACLE TEAM USA.
For SoftBank Team Japan this marks the end of the fourth Japanese challenge for the America’s Cup. Each one (1992, 1995, 1999) has fallen at the semi final stage of the challenger series.