(Reuters) - Emirates Team New Zealand picked Britain’s Land Rover BAR as their opponents in the semi-final stage of the America’s Cup challenger event scheduled to start on Sunday.
New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling said his crew had chosen Ben Ainslie’s team because they considered conditions forecast for the coming days would favour them over the British crew.
“We had a look at the forecast over the coming week and thought that it was our best chance of progressing forward,” Burling said at a televised briefing after Saturday’s races.
Ainslie has had a troubled campaign so far, including a clash which holed his catamaran and nearly ended his dream of bringing the cup ‘home’ to Britain. Despite some good starts, the British challenger has been off the pace in light winds.
“For us it will be a real battle, but we’re up for it and looking forward to it,” Ainslie said at the briefing.
The New Zealand choice leaves Sweden’s Artemis Racing and SoftBank Team Japan as the other head-to-head semi-final.
The first crew in each of the two semi-finals to win five races progresses to the challenger final and whoever wins that takes on holders Oracle Team USA for the America’s Cup itself.
Earlier on Saturday, the U.S. crew beat Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup qualifier event, guaranteeing themselves a bonus point when the racing for the cup begins on June 17 in Bermuda.
Reporting by Alexander Smith in London; Editing by Ken Ferris