America’s Cup: Game of turning points in tenth race
Published on September 15th, 2013
San Francisco, CA (September 15, 2013) – On a day when the pendulum of momentum was swinging wildly at the 34th America’s Cup, challenger Emirates Team New Zealand survived a huge threat by defender Oracle Team USA in the tenth race to post their 7th point of the series.
With wind steady at 18 knots but slightly lighter ebb than race nine, it was the Kiwi teams turn to enter the start box from the port end. In a similar tactic as the American team used, the Kiwis dug deep in the box to protect the leeward end. And while the Kiwis crossed the line a second sooner, it was the Americans that were full throttle at the gun.
The defender had pace and position to roll the challenger, but they just couldn’t pull it off, and were forced to give the Kiwis at mark one. “I can’t say enough about the effort the Kiwis did to hold on,” noted broadcast commentator Ken Read. “This could be a huge turning point in the race.”
It would prove to be one of many turning points. “I thought we had rolled them, but then sort of touched down (the windward hull), and we had to fight back from there,” explained defense skipper Jimmy Spithill.
As fast as the Americans were downwind in race nine, it was now the Kiwis turn to show jets. Growing the lead to 200 meters, the Kiwis rounded the inshore leeward gate, while the defender went for a late gybe to gain the split and round the offshore gate. It was a slow turn, and possibly a costly mistake.
The Kiwis looked to be coasting upwind, leading by 140 meters at the first cross. However, they inexplicably continued to split with the defender for the first half of the beat, losing margin in each crossing. “I thought we sailed the first half of the beat pretty well, but they got one big chunk all at once, which turned a comfortable lead into now we were behind them,” explained Kiwi skipper Dean Barker.
The lead would get exchanged on each ensuing cross, with the windward gate approach presenting another race turning point.
On starboard, the Americans were on layline for the inshore gate, while the Kiwis on port and in line with the offshore gate. The defender got the cross, but it was all even as both teams made the turn. Each team extended to the boundary, and it remained all even at the gybe. The defender, now coming across on port at 40 knots, and on a full collision course with the Kiwis, also going 40 knots, was staring down the barrel of turning point number three.
“We were talking about gybing on top, but we’d probably then just been pinned out to the (inshore) corner, and with the apparent wind so far forward, I don’t think we could have affected them,” explained Spithill.
Instead, they slowed the boat so they could cross the challenger’s stern, and then hold the starboard advantage when the teams would cross again. But the slow down was too slow, and the Kiwis scooted away. Spithill, looking back on the move, “maybe we should have taken a bit more risk and not slowed down as much and really try to shave their stern.”
What was a close cross was now a 200 meter lead, which the Kiwis would convert to a 16 second delta at the finish.
Ten Completed Races – First team to 9 Points Wins
Emirates Team New Zealand: 7
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) Race 9 abandoned
Sunday, Sept. 15: Final Race 9 (1:15 pm PT), Final Race 10 (2:15 pm PT)
Monday, Sept. 16: Off Day
Tuesday, Sept. 17: Final Race 11 (1:15 pm PT), Final Race 12* (2:15 pm PT)
Wednesday, Sept. 18: Final Race 13* (1:15 pm PT), Final Race 14* (2:15 pm PT)
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