New Zealand and France finished on Saturday in Vilanova (Spain) tied at the top of the general classification on the first day of the preliminary regattas for the 2024 America's Cup.
The Kiwis, led by double silver ewer winner Peter Burling, won the second qualifying heat of the day ahead of the Swiss Alinghi Redbull Racing in a snail's race, due to a very light wind. These two crews are also the only ones to have managed to fly for a few minutes thanks to their foils. The New Zealand title holder crossed the finish line in time, while his five pursuers stopped at the previous gate.
A little earlier, the French challenge Orient Express, the last team entered in the America's Cup, took the first round to everyone's surprise. Thanks to a good start from Vannes helmsman Quentin Delapierre, the Blues were in the lead for a good while until the wind died down and the gaps closed at the front of the race course.
Finishing the race almost at a standstill, the French team still won ahead of American Magic (USA) and Team New Zealand. “For a first day we couldn't hope for more than that and everything we learned in training in recent weeks ended up paying off,” said Orient Express trimmer Jason Saunders.
The other two rounds scheduled for the day were canceled due to the weather. In the general classification, Team New Zealand and Orient Express have fifteen points, while the Swiss Alinghi Redbull Racing complete the podium with 10 points. On Sunday, two new classification rounds are scheduled from 3:00 p.m. before a two-boat grand final to end this first weekend of clashes between the teams vying for the oldest sporting trophy in the world.