America’s Cup: New Day, Old Result
Published on September 12th, 2013
San Francisco, CA (September 12, 2013) – After winning only one of five races in the 34th America’s Cup, defender Oracle Team USA sought to ail their strategic woes by replacing tactician John Kostecki with 5-time Olympic medalist Ben Ainslie for race six. Unfortunately for Ainslie, he still had to race against the challenger Emirates Team New Zealand, who proved the better once again to take the victory.
There was early hope for the American team as they dominated the Kiwis in the pre-start. Taking a blocking role, USA caught the Kiwis napping as they pulled the pair to the leeward end. The Kiwis badly mistimed the distance remaining to the line, and were forced to follow by 4 seconds at the start.
“That start was a shocker,” admitted Kiwi skipper Dean Barker. “I was half asleep through that start and paid for it.”
Trailing now at mark one by nearly 9 seconds, it was the biggest deficit either team had at this stage. But with the wind at only 12 knots for the run, the Kiwis looked like they might erase the margin on the first gybe as they stayed on the foils while the American team splashed both hulls.
But USA held on, and with a slight speed advantage, were able to lead the chase downwind. “I thought Ben and Tom (Slingsby) did a nice job on that leg,” said American team skipper Jimmy Spithill. “There were a couple of hard decisions but I felt they handled them well.”
If there was a tactical mistake, it was when the American team did not match gybes in their approach to the gate, choosing the inshore mark. This gave the Kiwis the split they wanted, rounding the offshore gate and extending on port to seek flood relief under the Alcatraz Island cone.
“They gave us the split at the bottom which is pretty important, allowing us to chip away from there,” explained Kiwi tactician Ray Davies.
USA chased to the right to get back in touch, but lost their lead on the first cross. After two more lead changes under the cone, the now trailing American team exited the cone early, giving the Kiwis the perfect track to windward for the starboard dash across to the City Front.
“The bottom part of the Cone is pretty even, and we felt there was a bit more pressure offshore,” said Davies. “On the upwind leg, the boat on the right gained each time, and we were able to make the last tack into Alcatraz.”
Once to the left boundary, the American team had no lead… and no options. They were soon slapped silly by the Kiwis, who used their superior tacking speed to maintain control and grow their lead. The Americans, which had an 11 second lead at the leeward gate, were now trailing at the windward gate by 43 seconds, ultimately losing by 46 seconds.
“They’ve got some wheels,” admitted Spithill. “We had a great start and run, but they were able to claw their way back.”
Six Completed Races – First team to 9 Points Wins
Emirates Team New Zealand: 5
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