34th America’s Cup: Defender routs Kiwis in Race 15
Published on September 22nd, 2013
San Francisco, CA (September 22, 2013) – The 34th America’s Cup has been fully turned upside down. There was a time when challenger Emirates Team New Zealand couldn’t lose, but now they can’t win one. Much like the earlier race today, defender Oracle Team USA routed the challenger in race fifteen to win their fourth match in a row.
The wind had increased to 15 knots, and the defender again had the port entry. They skillfully controlled the leeward end of the line, but the Kiwis, able to get separation to windward, looked to have the runway to accelerate off the line.
The challenger had a fractional jump off the start, but a brief skid on leg one thwarted their momentum, and the defender took the turn at mark one by 3 seconds.
“We were pretty happy with the spot, but didn’t execute it quite as well as we could have with the acceleration,” noted Kiwi skipper Dean Barker. “You make one little mistake and they take it strong.”
Like race fourteen, it was a dying breeze down the course, getting spotty as it dropped to 11 knots. But the defender was on a roll, masterfully choosing when to match gybes and when to extend. The American team grew their lead to 700 meters, turning at the leeward gate 59 seconds ahead.
“Quite tricky conditions, and we didn’t do too a very good a job managing the downwind legs, and that first downwind we just coughed up too much distance,” Barker said.
But there was no quit in the Kiwis, slowly reducing the 400 meter upwind deficit to 240 meters. Nearing the top of the course, when the Kiwis had a bit of leverage, the defender shifted into overdrive, fully foiling and hitting 32 knots. The Kiwis, with 23 knots of speed at the same moment, were seemingly toast, and trailed at the windward gate by 32 seconds.
The downwind run, however, proved to be a minefield, with the Kiwis bringing stronger wind up on the defender. The defender, holding a 400 meter lead, slowed on a gybe, and soon the Kiwis were just 100 meters astern nearing the leeward mark.
“A day like today, it was all about the tactics,” observed defense skipper Jimmy Spithill. “Tom and Ben were really under a lot of pressure there a few times, but kept their cool. Everybody stayed calm, and sailed such a great race.”
While the defender held their track, the Kiwis split away, but it proved to be a fatal move. The defender easily extended, turning the leeward mark ahead by 37 seconds to win race fifteen by the same margin.
“We knew it would be a hard day with two starboard entries, but it’s right there for the taking,” shared Barker. “We just need to put a solid race together. We didn’t do as a good a job as we expected today, but we are certainly not down; we know we can win it and just need to go out tomorrow and do that.”
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Fifteen Completed Races – First team to 9 Points Wins
Emirates Team New Zealand: 8
Oracle Team USA: 5*
* Began series with -2 points due to International Jury penalty from AC World Series.
America’s Cup Final schedule
Monday, Sept. 23: Race 16* (1:15 pm PT), Race 17* (2:15 pm PT)