Day 5 recap: Near disaster for challenger aids defender at 34th America’s Cup...
ORACLE TEAM USA won Race 8 in San Francisco on Saturday after trailing off the start line and at
the first two mark roundings, thanks to a near capsize by Emirates Team New
Zealand on the 3-nautical-mile upwind leg.
Racing continues at 1:15 pm PT on Sunday and will be aired on NBC Sports Network. Read on for the full recap of day 5 including text and video...
A crowd of some 50,000 people flocked to the America's Cup venues on the
shores of San Francisco Bay to take in the 34th America’s Cup and were
treated to heart-stopping action between defender ORACLE TEAM USA and
challenger Emirates Team New Zealand.
Only one race was held today, but tonight fans of the defender see a
chance for a comeback after a 52-second victory in Race 8. Fans of the
challenger are thankful their AC72 is still upright and in one piece,
safely tucked back in the team base after a near capsize on the upwind leg.
“We got about as close as you can possibly get to having the thing
end up on its side,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker,
who was stuck in the leeward hull looking up at the rest of the 46-foot
wide catamaran. “We still take a lot of positives out of today. We’re
still very happy with the way the boat’s going and there are still
things we can improve. We’ll be out there fighting for points tomorrow.”
Emirates Team New Zealand still leads on the scoreboard 6-0, and 6-2
in wins. The winner of the 34th America’s Cup will be the first team to
win 9 points. For the Kiwis that means three additional race wins and
for ORACLE TEAM USA it means nine. But now that its second victory is in
the books, ORACLE TEAM USA has exonerated the penalty imposed by the
International Jury and will start receiving points for race wins
beginning with its next victory.
“It’s what the team needed. I can’t tell you how hard the team
around us works,” said ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill. “We’ve
been saying it in house that we can win races. We don’t care what the
scoreline is. At some point it’s going to turn. Today was a big moment
for us. We clearly made a step in the boat’s performance. It’s a big
step and a key moment in the regatta.”
ORACLE TEAM USA spent yesterday in the boatshed making a series of
minor modifications in the quest for more speed. The “mods” seemed to
pay off when the defender took the action to Emirates Team New Zealand
on the upwind leg of Race 8, a reversal of what had played out in the
first four days of racing. Spithill wouldn’t say what changes were made
to the team’s AC72, other than the forward bowsprit being removed, which
saves a bit of weight.
ORACLE TEAM USA won Race 8 after trailing off the start line and at
the first two mark roundings, but its win was aided by Emirates Team New
Zealand’s near capsize on the 3-nautical-mile upwind leg.
The crews had been engaged in a tacking duel and had traded four
tacks. At the fifth meeting about three-quarters up the leg Emirates
Team New Zealand attempted to tack to starboard and to leeward of ORACLE
TEAM USA. But the crew had a problem with the hydraulics and the wing
didn’t “pop” onto the new tack.
With the wing inverted Emirates Team New Zealand’s starboard hull
rose high in the air to the point where it was on the precipice of
capsizing. The crew kept grinding away to restore hydraulic power and
the wing was eventually straightened out. The starboard hull slammed
back in the water, the boat upright. Had it gone over there’s no telling
what damage could’ve occurred to the boat, crew or the team’s hopes of
winning the America’s Cup.
“We were having a good tussle with the Oracle boys, getting near the
top of the upwind,” said Barker. “It was sort of a marginal cross and
we made the call to tack to leeward. We were a little bit rushed and we
missed the hydraulics. If you don’t get the hydraulics and the boat
tacks, the wind starts sucking the boat over. We got about as close as
you can possibly get to having the thing end up on its side.”
After a break of some 30 minutes, the two crews lined up for the
start of Race 9, and again Barker got the better of Spithill. The Kiwis
came off the line ahead of ORACLE TEAM USA, led by 4 seconds at the
first mark and 7 seconds at the leeward gate. As the two crews began the
upwind leg on opposite sides of the racecourse, the race committee
abandoned the race because the windspeed exceeded the prescribed race
limit of 22.6 knots.
Racing resumes tomorrow with Races 9 and 10, scheduled for 1:15 pm
PT and 2:15 pm PT. In the U.S., the America’s Cup Finals will be
broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network. Replays will be available on
the America’s Cup YouTube channel.
Internationally, the America’s Cup Final can be viewed in more than
170 territories. All racing is also live on America’s Cup YouTube
channel (subject to territorial restrictions).
Photo © ACEA / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget