34th America’s Cup: Kiwis win (possible) penultimate race
Published on September 18th, 2013
San Francisco, CA (September 18, 2013) – After excessive winds on Tuesday forced the postponement of racing for the 34th America’s Cup, today started again with the same reality for defender Oracle Team USA. Win or go home.
With two races scheduled, and challenger Emirates Team New Zealand Kiwis two wins away from winning the Match, the American team would need to bring out their best for race eleven. Unfortunately for the defender, their best was not good enough.
The Kiwis had port entry at the prestart, and with two knots of ebb current and 17 knots, it was predictable they would plot a course for the leeward end of the start. The defender had the same idea, but with their timing off, they got caught to windward of the Kiwis with nowhere to go.
“You’re never quite sure how it is going to work out,” admitted Kiwi skipper Dean Barker. “We had an idea on how we wanted to attack it, and it worked out about as well as it could have.” The American team knew they were in trouble early. “We messed up the time and distance at the start,” explained defense skipper Jimmy Spithill. “Straight out of the gybe we were just late. Big mistake there.”
While the challenger gained a five second lead off the line, the defender kept the game close downwind, maintaining the delta and gaining a split at the leeward mark. But with the wind now averaging 15 knots, a bit less than when the American team showed impressive upwind performance during the weekend, it proved to be a learning moment.
“I think we favor a little more wind,” said Spithill.
Despite the moderate conditions, the defender momentarily took the lead on the upwind leg, but the Kiwis gained it back on the first cross. For the bulk of the beat, the Kiwis cautiously and confidently kept track of the defender, often splitting by wide margin. Near the top of the beat, the lead had shrank down from 100 meters to 30 meters, but the Kiwis nailed the windward gate approach, opening up the margin to 150 meters at the turn.
The Kiwis soon extended to 340 meters, but nearly lost it all when they gave the American team a split offshore. The defender, finding a low and fast gear, quickly reduced the lead, with the Kiwis able to cross back just in time to stop the bleeding, leading at the leeward gate by 18 seconds. Once ahead at the turn, it was straightforward to win race 11 by 14 seconds.
Now just one loss away from losing the Match, Spithill still maintained hope. “We just got to get back into it and get on with the next one. It’s not over. It’s a long ways from over.”
Eleven Completed Races – First team to 9 Points Wins
Emirates Team New Zealand: 8
Oracle Team USA: 1*
* Began series with -2 points due to International Jury penalty from AC World Series.
America’s Cup Final schedule
Wednesday, Sept. 18: Race 11 (1:15 pm PT), Race 12 (2:15 pm PT)
Thursday, Sept. 19: Race 13* (1:15 pm PT), Race 14* (2:15 pm PT)
Friday, Sept. 20: Race 15* (1:15 pm PT), Race 16* (2:15 pm PT)
Saturday, Sept. 21: Race 17* (1:15 pm PT), Race 18* (2:15 pm PT)
Sunday, Sept. 22: Race 19* (1:15 pm PT)
Monday, Sept. 23: Reserve Day