America’s Cup: Kiwis need one more win
Published on June 11th, 2017
Hamilton, Bermuda (June 11, 2017) – The second day of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Finals provided the opportunity for Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) to close out the series, looking to parlay their two wins from yesterday to win the ‘first to five’ match.
Perhaps the most significant decision each day has to do with the forecast and the daggerfoil selection, which must be made far in advance of the race time. Complicating the situation today was early morning rain squalls with winds upwards of 20 knots… much more than expected.
Despite the winds dropping to 15 knots for the start of race one, it was still windier than the forecast, and Nathan Outteridge’s Artemis Racing (SWE) had guessed right by sporting shorter boards than the Kiwis that were better suited for the high speeds.
“Our forecast was quite different from Team New Zealand and we were quite happy with our configuration going into this race,” noted Outteridge.
Burling agreed, “We expected it to be lighter than what it was.”
The Swedes leveraged this advantage to halt any hopes by the Kiwis to close out the series today as they went on to win the first of the three scheduled races.
After the Kiwis got off the start line with a slight edge to leeward of the Swedes, they could not capitalize on their positioning as the high speed boards used by the Swedes delivered a speed advantage on the tight reach, giving them a three second lead at the first mark.
The Swedes remained in control through the first downwind-upwind lap, with the Kiwis not making up any ground until the second upwind leg when the Swedes incurred a horrific tack to cover the Kiwis.
While completing the tack, Artemis Racing got too high on their foils, and then plowed hard and momentarily bore off equally hard toward the New Zealand team. What could have been a dangerous collision, the Swedes recovered in time to avoid penalty.
“One of our daggerboard buttons was mis-firing and we were struggling with our control system,” admitted Outteridge.
For the Swedes, whereas they had generally paid for similar mistakes by losing leads, they remarkably stayed in front of the Kiwis at the final windward gate, extending on the final run to take the race.
Race 4 Final Score: Swedes win by 15 seconds.
Overall Score: Emirates Team New Zealand (2) vs Artemis Racing (2)
With the wind decreasing to 11 knots for the start of race five, the daggerfoil decision by the Kiwis started to look better, but not enough to impact the edge held by Artemis Racing off the start. Positioned to leeward with a slight jump off the start, the Swedes had clearly better speed on the tight reach, claiming a 3 second lead at the first turn.
After building an 8 second lead after the first run, the Swedes got undone by their upwind strategy. “With the wind getting lighter, we sensed the Kiwis would have the advantage which led to more aggressive tactics,” explained Outteridge.
Coming across on starboard, Artemis Racing tacked low of the Kiwis to protect the right side, but bad positioning gave the Kiwis a chance to hang on their hip. When the teams reached the right side boarder, they tacked simultaneously with the Kiwis now grabbing a strong position to leeward.
Soon enough, the Kiwis got the lead and never looked back. They finished the first upwind leg with a 13 second lead, and after another lap it was 39 seconds as they headed downwind for the finish. The Swedes, seeing defeat, retired from the race and quickly had their maintenance team onboard to fix the daggerboard control system.
Race 5 Final Score: Kiwis win, Swedes retire.
Overall Score: Emirates Team New Zealand (3) vs Artemis Racing (2)
For the third and final race of the day, and the wind hovering at 13 knots, the Swedes, now with control systems fixed, once again show their speed advantage off the start. After breaking the line even with the Kiwis, the Swedes controlled from to leeward, carrying the Kiwis high on the reach before bearing down for the first run with a several boat length lead.
“We knew we were not in the best configuration,” admitted Burling. “We just wanted to keep it close to the first leeward mark and work from there. Today was about creating opportunities upwind where we had a speed advantage.”
The teams remained in this order for the run and most of the first upwind leg until a big split near the windward gate proved pivotal. With the Kiwis coming in on starboard layline, the Swedes got across on port for a split gate turn, but their lead of 3 seconds was immediately gone as the Kiwis extended to a 100 meter lead.
However, unlike other races, the Swedes reeled them in on the second downwind leg, following around the leeward mark just 2 seconds behind. But the Kiwis didn’t blink, demonstrating superior VMG on the second upwind leg to gap away to an 18 second lead at the windward mark turn.
But just when the race looked like it was over, a blown Kiwi gybe leading into the finish saw the Swedes erase a 250 meter deficit to nearly win the race, finishing just one second behind.
“I take the blame on that one,” said Burling. “Bad comms on my part led to a quick turn that the boys weren’t ready for. Thankfully we survived it and are exceedingly pleased with the advantage we now have over Artemis.”
Burling knew, however, the team dodged what could have been a much bigger bullet. “We were not set up well for what the winds were. We are really happy to come away with what we got. This is full credit to the entire team.”
Race 6 Final Score: Kiwis win by 1 second.
Overall Score: Emirates Team New Zealand (4) vs Artemis Racing (2)
Lighter winds are forecast for tomorrow – the last day of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Finals. If needed, three more races are scheduled beginning at 2:08pm local time in Bermuda.
Challenger Final Race 4: Artemis Racing beat Emirates Team New Zealand by 15 seconds
Challenger Final Race 5: Emirates Team New Zealand beat Artemis Racing – Artemis Racing did not finish
Challenger Final Race 6: Emirates Team New Zealand beat Artemis Racing by 1 second
America’s Cup Challenger Playoff: From June 4 to 12, 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 on June 17.
Overall Results (Winner is first team to 5)
Emirates Team New Zealand (4) vs Artemis Racing (2)
Source: Scuttlebutt, ACEA