Defender gets on the board at 34th America’s Cup

Published on September 8th, 2013

San Francisco, CA (September 8, 2013) – It took two days and four races, but Oracle Team USA took their first win in the fourth race of the 34th America’s Cup. This race demonstrated the maturity of the defender as they adjusted their game plan, avoiding the pitfalls that led to their loss in race three.

With the winds increasing from race three, the start was following a similar pattern. The Kiwis looked to hold the windward position, and appeared to have better timed the approach. But when the Americans hit the throttle, they smoked through to leeward, crossing the line a fraction sooner, and stretching out to 6 seconds at mark one.

“I was pretty disappointed last night,” admitted American skipper Jimmy Spithill, regarding the starts in the first two races. “I did a bit of work last night with Phillipe (coach Phillipe Presti), and just need to keep stepping it up. That’s the name of the game.”

The Americans grew their lead to 170 meters on the downwind leg, but nearly gave it all away as they plowed through a late gybe to round the inshore gate 5 seconds in front of the Kiwis. The challenger was able to get up on their hip, but couldn’t hang on starboad long enough and was forced to tack off.

It was at this point the Americans appeared more interested in playing the wind and less interested in covering their opponent. It had become clear that the Kiwis were faster through the tacks, and while they sought to tempt the Americans into a tacking duel, the defender remained focused on boat speed.

“Emirates Team New Zealand seems to be gaining a little bit on the tacks,” assessed American tactician John Kostecki. “So we looked at playing the favored side, and tacking where we wanted to tack to take the fastest track up to the windward mark, and it paid off for us.”

Nearing the windward mark, the Kiwis had narrowed the difference, but a big wheelie after a tack cost them precious meters, leaving them 16 seconds behind at the windward mark.

The Americans looked solid on the run, but the Kiwis trailed by only 5 seconds at the final leeward mark. However, the final reach to the finish would not provide any opportunities to pass, and the Americans held on for a 7 second win.

“We were pretty disappointed with the third race,” said Spithill. “It sort of slipped through our fingers, so winning the fourth race was a real sign of strength by the guys. Being able to bounce back, after having lost three in a row to win this race, especially going into the break tomorrow (Monday), it’s a real confidence booster for the boys.”

“They sailed a really good race,” conceded Kiwi skipper Dean Barker. “We thought they might have been a bit late at the start, but they got to the line right on time, and then rounded mark one with a bit more pressure than us. We seemed to have a bit on them upwind but just did not have enough room to make it work.”

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Click here for all race reports.

First team to 9 Points
Emirates Team New Zealand: 3
Oracle Team USA: -1*
* Began series with -2 points due to International Jury penalty from AC World Series.

America’s Cup Final schedule
Saturday, Sept. 7: Final Race 1 (1:15 pm PT), Final Race 2 (2:15 pm PT)
Sunday, Sept. 8: Final Race 3 (1:15 pm PT), Final Race 4 (2:15 pm PT
Tuesday, Sept. 10: Final Race 5 (1:15 pm PT), Final Race 6 (2:15 pm PT)
Thursday, Sept. 12: Final Race 7 (1:15 pm PT), Final Race 8 (2:15 pm PT)
Saturday, Sept. 14: Final Race 9 (1:15 pm PT), Final Race 10* (2:15 pm PT)
Sunday, Sept. 15: Final Race 11* (1:15 pm PT), Final Race 12* (2:15 pm PT)
Monday, Sept. 16: Reserve Day
Tuesday, Sept. 17: Final Race 13* (1:15 pm PT), Final Race 14* (2:15 pm PT)
Wednesday, Sept. 18: Reserve Day
Thursday, Sept. 19: Final Race 15* (1:15 pm PT), Final Race 16* (2:15 pm PT)
Friday, Sept. 20: Reserve Day
Saturday, Sept. 21: Final Race 17* (1:15 pm PT)
Sunday, Sept. 22: Reserve Day
Monday, Sept. 23: Reserve Day

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