34th America’s Cup: Faster Beats Slower In Race 16

Published on September 23rd, 2013

San Francisco, CA (September 23, 2013) – On a day that was originally scheduled as the end of the 34th America’s Cup, it appears that the event is only beginning. The ‘born again’ defender Oracle Team USA has emerged from the ashes, and is keeping the flame alive.

In tennis, it’s an advantage to be the server. The plan is always to hold your serve, and if you break your opponent’s serve, you win the set. Do it enough times, and you win the match. Same goes for the America’s Cup.

The port entry has proven to have a similar advantage. Entering the start box 10 seconds ahead of your opponent forces them to react rather than dictate the prestart. And with only a two minute countdown, it has proven near impossible to pull a reversal.

Today, much like the past four days, challenger Emirates Team New Zealand has sat on match point. With two races on the schedule, and with the start rotation providing the challenger the port entry on both starts, the odds were in their favor to win the game, set, and match.

If only it was that simple.

The challenger got the leeward position off the line, but the defender had better acceleration, and though even at the start, the American team rolled over and led at the first turn.  In 11 knots and 1.5 knots of flood tide, the course was spotty enough to offer opportunity, but the challenger found no openings to pass.

Better strategy to break serve, or is the defender swinging a better tennis racket?

“The guys have been working very very hard,” said defense skipper Jimmy Spithill. “Last night the shore team was working until the early hours of the morning, and the boat is just going fantastic.”

If you watch the speed numbers on the broadcast, it is rare that the challenger is matching speed. If you look at the average speed per leg, the challenger is never matching speed. The only edge the challenger is holding is in their minimum speed during tacks and gybes, but it’s a fraction, and only confirms that their straight-line speed is not enough.

The American team won race 16 from start to finish, from coast to coast, from wire to wire… by 32 seconds. It is their fifth win in a row, and seventh win in the last nine races. If that’s not a momentum switch, we don’t know what is.

The second race of the day, race 17, was postponed due to the 1440 time limit.

Race replayPress conference

Complete race statsAll race reports

Sixteen Completed Races – First team to 9 Points Wins
Emirates Team New Zealand: 8
Oracle Team USA: 6*
* Began series with -2 points due to International Jury penalty from AC World Series.

America’s Cup Final schedule
Tuesday, Sept. 24: Race 17 (1:15 pm PT), Race 18* (2:15 pm PT)
Wednesday, Sept. 25: Race 19* (1:15 pm PT)
(*If necessary)

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