America’s Cup: Great Britain leads in Oman
Published on February 27th, 2016
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
(February 27, 2016) – It had been since October that we last saw the six America’s Cup teams compete, so I woke up at 2am PST to check in as the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) circuit got underway on the other side of the world. Welcome to Muscat, Oman.
After Mother Nature played hardball in 2015, disrupting the 4-race schedule at all three ACWS events, the regatta plan has changed in 2016. Now there are 3 single-point races on Saturday and 3 double-point races on Sunday to provide a better test for the teams and a bigger offering for host venues. For me, I get more for the $7.99 US it cost me to watch from the AC app.
Aside from the live video cutting out regularly, going dark for most of the first two legs in race three, I was still better off than those watching from the event village. With only the leeward mark near the shore, there was little more for them to see than pretty boats making a turn. Maybe they got close to the teams after the races. On the ACC app, the show ended abruptly once the third race was done. Slam, bam, thank you ma’am.
As predicted, winds were mostly in the 7 to 8 knot range, dying in the third race. Despite the light winds, races were under 20 minutes – a short reach after the start, then a L-W-L to a downwind finish. Any team with a click more wind translated that to a huge advantage. It was a non-foiling day, with it getting so bad in the final race that teams used the code zero as their upwind headsail. That means furling it for each tack.
Knowing that race scores are double tomorrow, teams were eager to find their pace. Little mistakes today would translate to epic losses tomorrow.
A quick race-by-race summary….
While GBR and FRA were OCS, SWE jumped off the windward start pin while NZL got off the leeward end. As the teams merged at Mark 1 (M1), SWE was penalized, launching the Kiwis to what would be nearly a 200m lead at the finish. SWE would score another penalty at M2 but salvaged the rest of the race. JPN slowly faded, dropping from third to fifth on the upwind leg.
The top two boats at M1 again started at the pins, with GBR taking the lead from the leeward end over JPN from the windward end. After race one leaders NZL copped an early foul and USA got rolled after the start, GBR built a lead that was nearly 300m at the finish. Unlike race one, JPN held position with FRA getting on the podium as back-up skipper Adam Minoprio sits in while team leader Franck Cammas recovers from foot injury.
NZL looked set to take the lead at the windward end, but USA just to leeward accelerated better to get the jump… and then the video cut out. By the time it returned, JPN led at M2 followed by USA, GBR, NZL, SWE, and FRA. This was the only close race of the day, with USA getting the lead at first upwind cross, only to lose it as GBR leebowed them at M3 (yes, you read that correctly, a leebow using code zeros… gutsy). JPN again fell down the rank, this time to fifth at M3. Final leg was dicey to the end, with FRA passing two boats at the finish.