34th America’s Cup: Kiwis amass biggest win of the series

Published on September 10th, 2013

San Francisco, CA (September 10, 2013) – After the first four races of the 34th America’s Cup from last weekend, you could make an argument that both the defender Oracle Team USA and challenger Emirates Team New Zealand had a grasp on momentum as they entered today’s racing. But as the Kiwis sailed around and away from the Americans in the fifth race, the pendulum has swung hard toward the challenger.

In 17 knots and a flood tide, the Americans controlled the start, blocking the Kiwis as they approached the line. With seconds on the clock, the Kiwis accelerated through to leeward for an even start, but it wouldn’t prove to be enough. “The Americans managed to get over us on the first reach, carrying a bit more pressure to get around our bow,” explained Kiwi skipper Dean Barker.

After remaining close on the downwind leg, both teams chose the inshore leeward gate, but a call by the American team tactician John Kostecki for a “foiling tack” proved to be a turning point.

“The tack at the gate was probably not the best move, and it was technically a bad tack too,” admitted American skipper Jimmy Spithill. “We were keen to get over to the Alacatraz Cone, but it allowed them to get out of phase with us.”

With the Kiwis just 8 seconds behind at the leeward gate, they extended a few lengths before tacking to port, riding the Americans hip toward the flood relief below Alcatraz Island…slowly erasing the deficit.

When the Americans tacked at the boundary, their lead was gone. The Kiwis ducked under, and soon began working on what would become a 500 meter lead by the weather mark. “They definitely have some wheels upwind, and they’re tacking the boat very well,” Spithill said. “We also got caught with a little bigger jib than they had and that definitely hurt us on the upwind leg.”

With the wind slanted to the left, the skewed run was nearly all on starboard, with the Kiwis building a 1400 meter lead, and a winning delta of 1:04 minutes.

“It’s a tough way to win races, but it’s working for us,” Barker said. “We’d like to be controlling our fate a little bit more around mark one but it didn’t work out on this race.”

With the wind gusting to 24 knots by the end of race 5, the Americans were concerned enough about their performance to cancel the afternoon race, a move each team is allowed only once during the series.

“We need to go back and regroup,” Spithill advised. “We feel they have a bit of an edge on us at the moment. We have some work to do. We chose to play the postponement card strategically and hopefully make some improvements. We need to up our game; we are not going to hide from the fact, so we need to work hard and be ready when we meet again on Thursday.”

Nathan Outteridege, helm for challenger Artemis Racing and broadcast commentator, sized up how the Kiwis have now won four of the five races. “The Kiwis have won a race, but Oracle has lost the other three races through strategic mistakes. I think the Americans are in good shape but they have to get those errors out of their racing.”

Click here for complete race stats.
Click here for all race reports.

Five Completed Races – First team to 9 Points Wins
Emirates Team New Zealand: 4
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: Race 1 (1:15 pm PT), Race 2 (2:15 pm PT)
Sunday, Sept. 8: Race 3 (1:15 pm PT), Race 4 (2:15 pm PT
Tuesday, Sept. 10: Race 5 (1:15 pm PT), Race 6 (2:15 pm PT); Race 6 postponed
Thursday, Sept. 12: Race 6 (1:15 pm PT), Race 7 (2:15 pm PT)
Saturday, Sept. 14: Race 8 (1:15 pm PT), Race 9 (2:15 pm PT)
Sunday, Sept. 15: Race 10 (1:15 pm PT), Race 11* (2:15 pm PT)
Monday, Sept. 16: Race 12* (1:15 pm PT)
Tuesday, Sept. 17: Race 13* (1:15 pm PT), Race 14* (2:15 pm PT)
Wednesday, Sept. 18: Reserve Day
Thursday, Sept. 19: Race 15* (1:15 pm PT), Race 16* (2:15 pm PT)
Friday, Sept. 20: Reserve Day
Saturday, Sept. 21: Race 17* (1:15 pm PT)
Sunday, Sept. 22: Reserve Day
Monday, Sept. 23: Reserve Day
(*If necessary)

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