34th America’s Cup: What to look for on Tuesday

Published on September 9th, 2013

After the 34th America’s Cup got underway this past weekend, defender Oracle Team USA and challenger Emirates Team New Zealand had an off day on Monday to focus on one thing: getting better. It’s not how you start the series that matters most; it’s how you finish.

Here are some things to look for when racing resumes on Tuesday:

Wind: The typical trend for September is for the wind to decrease from the strong summer sea breeze. This could be an advantage for the Americans if their design was geared toward the lower winds. If the wind gets down below 10 knots to the “go/no go” for the Code Zero, look for a new game to be played.

Start: In four races, the Kiwis have positioned to be the windward boat. This worked twice when the Americans mis-timed the start, but the Americans twice won the race to mark one when their start timing was near even to the Kiwis. Typically the high lane is better in the flood tide, which will be more of a factor on Tuesday, but the Americans aren’t afraid to throw a hard luff at 40 knots. See if the Kiwis alter their game plan.

Leeward gate: With the meat of the flood tide overlapping more with the race schedule, look for there to be a right way and wrong way to go upwind. This could be trouble for the trailing boat if they must follow the leader around the gate mark. However, there is less water flow as the delta between high and low tide has decreased, which might help to neutralize any side advantage.

Upwind: It’s no secret the Americans have not been as fast through the tack as the Kiwis, who appear to initiate a full foil during the turn. Either the Americans improve their technique so they can tactically match tacks upwind, or look for local wizard John Kostecki to sail the course and the wind and disregard the challenger.

Boat layout: Much has been said about all the grinding needed to power the hydraulic systems. However, the Kiwi layout keeps their tactician Ray Davies off the handles and fully focused on the course. On the American boat, both Kostecki and strategist Tom Slingsby are on the handles behind skipper Jimmy Spithill, with Slingsby facing backwards upwind. Whether the 49-year old Kostecki can both grind and help Spithill could prove pivotal.

Scoreboard: Following the jury penalty where they docked 2 points from the Americans, there has been confusion regarding what it takes to win the 34th America’s Cup. The event has always stated that the first team to gain 9 points will win. While this has been called the best of 17 races, it can no longer be called that. The Americans must win 11 races while the Kiwi team needs 9 wins. It is conceivable that if it is a close series, more than 17 races will be needed. Current score: Kiwis: 3, Americans: -1

Broadcast: Races 5 and 6 are scheduled Tuesday for 1:15 pm PT and 2:15 pm PT. In the U.S., the live broadcast is on the NBC Sports Network. Replays will be available on the America’s Cup YouTube channel. Click here for complete broadcast details. You can also follow racing with America’s Cup App for android and iOS devices (with no commercial interruption).

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