Three teams eliminated as fog rolls back into Bay

Gil Riego Jr./Special to the S.F. ExaminerIn a haze: Foggy conditions made Wednesday’s match-race qualifiers difficult for skippers to navigate on the first day of America’s Cup World Series racing.

The fog rolled in over San Francisco Bay just in time for the match-race qualifiers of the America’s Cup World Series on Wednesday, an event that left Luna Rossa Piranha, Luna Rossa Swordfish and China Team eliminated from the match-race event.

Team Korea, Energy Team, Emirates Team New Zealand and Ben Aisnlie Racing each won their first match races to advance to today’s quarterfinals, while Artemis Racing Red survived the four-team loser’s bracket to claim the final spot.

China Team got its first match-race victory since the ACWS came to San Francisco in August, edging out Luna Rossa Piranha by six seconds in the semifinal of the qualifying round, but suffered wing damage during the race and was unable to repair its vessel in time to face Artemis Red in the final.

The win was not without controversy, however, as Lunna Rossa Piranha called for a penalty it did not get when China Team cut in front of it early in the race. China Team went out of bounds halfway through the race, but took the lead shortly after. The teams were neck-and-neck down the stretch, with China Team pulling away after the fourth marker and winning by six seconds.   

The widest margin of victory belonged to Ben Ainslie Racing, which beat Luna Rossa Swordfish by 1 minute, 15 seconds to secure a spot in the quarterfinals.

The other member of Luna Rossa, Swordfish, suffered a tougher loss, as a penalty on Team Korea allowed Luna Rossa Swordfish to take a lead on the home stretch, only to have Team Korea overtake them at the last minute and win by one boat length.

In today’s match-race quarterfinals, Team Korea will face Artemis Racing White; Energy Team matches up with Emirates Team New Zealand; Artemis Racing Red squares off against Oracle Team USA Coutts; and defending champion Oracle Team USA Spithill takes on Ben Ainslie Racing.

The match races will begin at 12:20 p.m., followed by a break while the Blue Angels practice for their Fleet Week show. Fleet racing is scheduled to begin at 5:10 p.m.

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