Harken Derm

America’s Cup: Can Defender Comeback Again?

Published on June 25th, 2017

Hamilton, Bermuda (June 25, 2017) – After facing new life from the America’s Cup defender yesterday, the challenger Emirates Team New Zealand counter-punched today, winning the two scheduled races of the day, races seven and eight of the final stage of the 35th America’s Cup.

Having split the races yesterday, ORACLE TEAM USA went into the today looking to gain more ground on their Kiwi rivals, but the New Zealand juggernaut had found its pace again and was unbeatable in similar weather conditions today.

The America’s Cup Match now stands at 6-1 to Emirates Team New Zealand who need only one more race to take the ‘Auld Mug’ back to their home country.

In the 8-10 knots, the kiwi team was perfect at the starts while their rival made errors, never to see the lead in either race. On a day where the winds were highly variable, the kiwi team regularly spent their lead to stay in front of the defender, while other times they split to stay in stronger winds. It all worked today.

“We were absolutely delighted with how the day went,” said kiwi helm Peter Burling after claiming back-to-back victories to take his team to the verge of their first America’s Cup success since 2000. “We were disappointed to give away a race yesterday but we certainly made up for it today.

“We’ve got a fantastic team and you can see that out on the water. We’ve all got the same understanding of what we want to achieve and we are all on the same page.

“Despite the lead we won’t get ahead of ourselves because we still know we have a job to do and it’s still an incredibly tough ask.

“A lot has been said about what happened four years ago but I love the pressure. If you want to come all the way to Bermuda and win the America’s Cup then you have to deal with immense pressure. As a group we feel the pressure is bringing the best out of us and I think we’ve more than answered those questions.”

For ORACLE TEAM USA, this is familiar ground, and nobody would write off the Defenders who so memorably staged one of, if not the, greatest comebacks in sport when they pulled back from an 8-1 deficit to win the 2013 America’s Cup 9-8 against the same rivals.

“They [Emirates Team New Zealand] sailed better than us today and made a lot fewer mistakes,” conceded defense skipper Jimmy Spithill. “They deserved to win both of the races because we clearly made far too many mistakes out there. We’re in a tough situation now and all we can really do is take this one race at a time.

“The plan certainly wasn’t to be in this position again, I can assure you of that, but we are here now so it is up to all of us to respond and react.

“You wouldn’t have been surprised to see a bit of a bad reaction out there today but the boys kept fighting and that’s great. Potentially, in a situation like this you could see a team split apart, but when we got ashore everyone pulled together because we know this isn’t over.

“I still think we can win races with this boat. We’ve proven we can races against these guys if we sail well but if we make too many mistakes like we did today then we won’t win races.”

Having made changes to their boat since the opening weekend of the America’s Cup Match, Spithill was asked if there might also be changes to personnel on the ORACLE TEAM USA boat ahead of day five, to which he replied, “Anything is on the table. Every single team member in ORACLE TEAM USA will do whatever they can to help the team win.

“That includes me. If the team feel they have a better chance of winning with me on the wheel, I’ll be on the wheel, if we feel we have a better chance with me off the wheel, no problem. Our attitude has always been you put the team before yourself.

“Once again we will go away and review everything and tomorrow we will put out the boat, the configuration and the team we feel will give us the best possible chance to win some races.

“We don’t need to think too much about the end result, all we need to focus on is winning one race, and one race at a time. We have to learn from our mistakes and come out fighting stronger tomorrow, that’s it, that’s all we will be thinking about.”

Racing is scheduled to resume at 2.00pm on Monday June 26 with races nine and ten taking place on Bermuda’s Great Sound.

Race Seven
With ORACLE TEAM USA to windward as both teams approached the line, they feared being early and slowed, a mistake that gave Emirates Team New Zealand the open lane to the lead. From there it was a drag race, Emirates Team New Zealand just ahead as they rounded mark one.

Spithill blinked first, making the turn before Burling and slowly inching closer to the Kiwis as they headed downwind towards gate two. On leg three there was very little between the two teams but the Kiwis extended their advantage again as they headed upwind, giving themselves a 32 second lead as they headed into leg four.

Despite the growing gap, ORACLE TEAM USA did not give up, continuing to try and claw back the advantage the Kiwis were building, but it was largely to no avail. The New Zealanders put on a dominant display, extending their lead downwind to 40 seconds by gate four and then slightly back to 35 seconds upwind to the fifth gate.

On leg six it looked as if Emirates Team New Zealand would wrap up the victory cleanly, but a bad jibe gave ORACLE TEAM USA a glimmer of hope. Spithill and his crew did everything they could to stop the leaderboard ticking round to 5-1 to Emirates Team New Zealand, reducing the deficit to 13 seconds at the sixth gate, but they were unable to bridge the gap completely and that left the Kiwis celebrating victory in race seven.

Defender Crew list:
Skipper / Helmsman — Jimmy Spithill
Wing Trimmer — Kyle Langford
Tactician / Grinder — Tom Slingsby
Grinder — Louis Sinclair
Grinder — Sam Newton
Grinder — Ky Hurst

Challenger Crew list:
Skipper / Helmsman — Peter Burling
Wing Trimmer — Glenn Ashby
Foil Trimmer / Cyclor — Blair Tuke
Cyclor — Andy Maloney
Cyclor — Josh Junior
Cyclor — Simon Van Velthooven

Race Eight
ORACLE TEAM USA got completely handled on this start, with Emirates Team New Zealand gaining the hook some distance away from the line, allowing the kiwis to bear off and reach to the start, ahead by 13 seconds.

“We thought we would be able to pull a manoeuvre off but clearly we couldn’t, it was a big mistake,” admitted Spithill on the poor pre-start. “That really handed it to Peter and these guys were in a pretty easy situation to hook us and that’s game over really.”

By gate two that lead on the downwind leg was already up to 24 seconds and Spithill chose to split the course, a decision that appeared to pay dividends on the upwind leg as the gap started to decrease, but a penalty on leg four as ORACLE TEAM USA sailed outside the boundary effectively ended their hopes in race eight.

Again, Emirates Team New Zealand continued to extend their lead downwind, reaching 36 seconds ahead at mark four, sailing their America’s Cup Class (ACC) boat perfectly. This was in contrast to ORACLE TEAM USA whose minor issues kept increasing the difference between the two teams on the racetrack.

Finally, another dominant display by Burling and the New Zealand team culminated in a 30 second win in race eight over ORACLE TEAM USA, putting them on the brink of winning the 35th America’s Cup.

Defender Crew list:
Skipper / Helmsman — Jimmy Spithill
Wing Trimmer — Kyle Langford
Tactician / Grinder — Tom Slingsby
Grinder — Cooper Dressler
Grinder — Sam Newton
Grinder — Graeme Spence

Challenger Crew list:
Skipper / Helmsman — Peter Burling
Wing Trimmer — Glenn Ashby
Foil Trimmer / Cyclor — Blair Tuke
Cyclor — Andy Maloney
Cyclor — Josh Junior
Cyclor — Joe Sullivan

 

Daily Results
Race Seven: Emirates Team New Zealand bt ORACLE TEAM USA by 12 seconds (stats).
Race Eight: Emirates Team New Zealand bt ORACLE TEAM USA by 30 seconds (stats).

Overall Results*
Emirates Team New Zealand (6) vs ORACLE TEAM USA (1)

* Scoreboard: While the Challenger has won seven of the eight races, their match score is 6-1. The Defender, which won the Qualifiers held on May 26-June 3, began the series with a one point advantage. As the rules detail, the Challenger would carry a one point disadvantage (ie, minus 1), meaning they will need to win eight races to take the trophy whereas the Defender need only win seven races.

Schedule: The dates of the Match extend from June 17 to 28, though will end earlier when a team scores 7 points. The next race day is June 26 and will continue daily thereafter until there is a winner.

Event detailsResultsRace dataFacebook

Here are the answers to these questions…
• What is the racing schedule? Click here
• What is the competition format? Click here
• How can I watch the racing? Click here

Source: ACEA

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