America’s Cup: Defender raises game, Kiwis fumble in Race 8
Published on September 14th, 2013
San Francisco, CA (September 14, 2013) – Well that was interesting. Just when we thought we’d seen it all, race eight of the 34th America’s Cup provided us something new. We saw defender Oracle Team USA have pace upwind, we saw challenger Emirates Team New Zealand almost capsize, and we saw the American team win by 52 seconds.
With 18 knots and an ebb tide American team skipper Jimmy Spithill was the aggressor in the prestart. He sought to hook the Kiwis and launch off the line to leeward, but the Kiwis timed the approach better to gain a 2 second lead.
The Kiwis guided the Americans down the leeward leg, but the defender kept it close, and were able to get a split at the leeward gate. The Kiwi’s 8 second lead was soon erased as the defender showed speed and tacking ability that had thus far been the Kiwi advantage.
“We’ve put in a lot of work to try and improve our boat and our tacks and our upwind speed,” said Spithill. “The shore team worked all day Friday with the design and engineering team, and I think we have taken a great step forward.”
The Kiwis were clearly pressured but barely held the lead on each cross. Crossing the defender on port, the Kiwis planned to tack in front and set up the final section of the upwind leg. “I was about to duck and try to hook them, but then when I saw them keep going we quickly got set up for a crash tack,” explained Spithill
What Spithill saw was a near capsize. The leeward foil popped the hull up in the turn, the wing failed to pop to the new tack, and with the starboard hull gaining altitude, the wind got under the boat and pushed it nearly over.
“When we rolled into the tack, we didn’t have the hydraulic pressure for the wing,” explained Barker. “If the wing doesn’t tack and the boat does, it leads to trouble. We got the hydraulics working about as late as you possibly could and fortunately the boat came back.”
By the time the Kiwis recovered from their near accident, the defender was gone. A 27 second lead at the windward gate became a 47 second delta at the leeward gate, winning race 8 by 52 seconds.
So the question now is what more does the American team have in its speed toolkit. “There are still things we can change,” said Ben Ainslie, tactician for the defender. “We made some changes today that upped our performance. That’s the nature of this America’s Cup. It is a development race, and we will continue to push for changes that raise our performance.”
Eight Completed Races – First team to 9 Points Wins
Emirates Team New Zealand: 6
Oracle Team USA: 0*
* 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