America’s Cup: Kiwis lead Challenger Finals
Published on June 10th, 2017
Hamilton, Bermuda (June 10, 2017) – What began as five teams seeking to become the Challenger for the 35th America’s Cup, the elimination series now is down to two: Nathan Outteridge’s Artemis Racing (SWE) and Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL).
These two skippers know each other well through their Olympic 49er campaigns, with Outteridge getting the gold and Burling the silver in London 2012 but reversing the results at the Rio 2016 Games.
More so, both their crews from the 49er continue to be alongside: Iain Jensen on the wing trim with Outteridge and Blair Tuke on the board trim with Burling.
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Finals began today with three races, and the Kiwis closed the day on top in spectacular fashion.
The first race got underway in 8 knots with concern for the Kiwis who were using daggerfoils geared for more wind. Those concerns were not dismissed as they struggled in the pre-start, falling behind the Swedes in the approach and trailing at the first mark by 8 seconds.
“We weren’t happy at all with that start,” noted Burling. “It got really light and we struggled to get going”
But the smooth maneuvering of the Kiwis, a strength seen during earlier races, helped them close up the margin on the run where they chose to follow the Swedes around the leeward mark by 5 seconds.
The second beat proved to be the race as the Swedes allowed the Kiwis to get leverage to the right, and when they nailed the tack to return, the Swedish lead was gone.
The Swedes were able to take low of the Kiwis to lead them into the left border, but when the Swedes tripped over the border, the penalty sealed their fate.
From there the Kiwis showed good speed as the wind increased slightly, with their ability to smoothly tack and gybe being a decided edge. Whereas the Swedes had head up more after a gybe to keep powered up, the Kiwis could hit their angle with speed.
Regarding their daggerfoils, Burling remains optimistic. “That could have been a tough race but we were really happy how we were able to get up on these boards, and if the wind continues to build it can only help.”
Race 1 Final score: Kiwis win by 47 seconds.
If the Kiwis have an Achilles heal, it’s gaining an advantage off the start line, and in wind now up to 12 knots for the second race, the Kiwis again trailed the Swedes by one second. More importantly, the Swedes were in control to leeward and held the Kiwis high into the first mark to lead by 3 seconds.
From there both teams sailed perfectly, with the Swedes maintaining 100% flight time and offering no openings for the Kiwis. Whereas the Kiwis previously had an edge in maneuvers, the Swedes were their peer in this race. The Kiwis kept it close but the Swedes carried the lead to the finish.
Race 2 Final score: Swedes win by 15 seconds.
With a storm cloud looming for the third race, the Kiwis fared better in their approach to the start. However, despite getting off even, the Swedes took their position to windward and rolled over the Kiwis to lead at mark one by 2 seconds.
“We did a better job at the start but still need to improve,” admitted Burling.
The Swedes continued where they left off from race two, sailing flawlessly down the run and upwind leg. But the Kiwis closed the margin at the end of the upwind leg to set up a split gate for the next run. However, the Swedes responded, gaining a puff on the run to extend their lead, but an untimely plow before the leeward mark allowed the Kiwis to close to 4 seconds and get a split gate.
Both teams bounced off the boundaries on this next upwind leg, with the Swedes leading through two close crosses. However, with the Kiwis now tacking off the right boundary, they looked to have taken the lead as Artemis tacked off the left boundary, and would now have starboard advantage. And that’s when Artemis Racing skipper Nathan Outteridge fell off the boat.
As the Swedish team tacked from starboard to port, Outteridge had nearly crossed the boat to take the wheel when his momentum took him beyond the wheel and into the Great Sound. While he avoided the rudder blade to remain unscathed, his team could no longer sail the boat effectively.
“When you take one person out of the equation, these boats are nearly impossible to sail,” reports Oracle Team USA crew Joey Newton.
As the Swedes quickly switched crew positions, they now trailed around the final windward gate mark, with the losses compounding on the run as they struggled to control the boat. Game over!
Race 3 Final score: Kiwis win; Artemis Racing do not finish.
Three more races are scheduled in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Finals on tomorrow beginning at 2:08pm local time in Bermuda.
Challenger Final Race 1: Emirates Team New Zealand beat Artemis Racing by 47 seconds
Challenger Final Race 2: Artemis Racing beat Emirates Team New Zealand by 15 seconds
Challenger Final Race 3: Emirates Team New Zealand beat Artemis Racing – Artemis Racing did not finish
America’s Cup Challenger Playoff: From June 4 to 12 (may end earlier), the top four Challengers split into two Semi-Finals (best of 9) with the winner of each match to meet in the Final (best of 9) to determine who will take on Defender in the America’s Cup Match.
Overall Results (Winner is first team to 5)
Emirates Team New Zealand (2) vs Artemis Racing (1)
Source: Scuttlebutt, ACEA