America's Cup 2013: Day 2
Oracle Team USA Takes Win in Race 4
Quotes and Wrap-Up: Teams Split Wins as Oracle Presses ETNZ
Kiwis Come From Behind in Race 3, Keep Race 4 Close
San Francisco, September 8, 2013
Oracle Team USA crosses the line, grabbing a tense Race 4 by 7 seconds.
Image:©2013 ACEA/Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget
There were more than a few people in the Americaís Cup Park today who were all but ready to hand the trophy over to Emirates Team New Zealand based on their dominating performance on day one. But Oracle Team USA Team USA showed that they donít plan to release their grip on the Auld Mug that easily, with both teams splitting two of the closest races in Americaís Cup history.
Jimmy Spithill threw everything he had at Dean Barker and Emirates Team New Zealand in Race 3, entering the pre-start on port and overcoming a bad gybe to get the tighter position under the Kiwis that heíd been looking for yesterday -- and this time got the outcome he was hoping for, as he drove Barker past the reach mark and once again nearly luffed the Kiwis into a penalty. The Americans sailed away from the momentarily slowed Kiwis to take a three-boatlength lead away from the mark.
The job for Spithill then was to keep the Kiwis behind him -- much easier to do on the downwind leg, where the two boats are relatively equal in speed. The teams matched each other gybe for gybe until Oracle Team USA steered straight into the bottom mark, while Emirates Team New Zealand threw in another gybe in order to split from the Americans. In the tacking duel that ensued, Emirates Team New Zealand displayed superior upwind speed, chipping away at the Americans' lead.
In the tacking duel that ensued, Oracle Team USA appeared to have trouble keeping their leeward hull out of the water as the Kiwis got closer. Halfway up the beat, Oracle Team USA got tangled up with Emirates Team New Zealand at the shore side boundary, despite having starboard tack advantage. The Kiwis left the American team in their wake as they extended through the end of the beat and by the time the top mark came into view, the view had changed completely; now it was the Americans looking at a 29-second deficit. Too far back to affect the Kiwis, Oracle Team USA took their third straight loss.
Spithill knew he had to be as aggressive as possible in the second race to avoid the weekend sweep. Both boats headed on a time-on-distance run to the starting line, with Spithill once again driving under Barker and forcing the Kiwis away from the top mark to take a small lead as the boats headed down the run.
The Kiwis gybed first and Oracle Team USA kept going, extending the lead as they headed closer to shore before gybing to return to the game. Another set of gybes and as the two boats headed into the top mark, Oracle Team USA made a nearly disastrous mistake; gybing into the bottom mark, the leeward dagger board dropped too early and too quickly, sending the American boat into a nosedive and allowing the Kiwis to draw in close.
It looked to be another Kiwi overtaking maneuver on the beat, as they tried to use their upwind speed advantage to roll over the top of the Americans on the race toward shore. But Oracle Team USA sailed as high as the boat would allow, eventually forcing Emirates Team New Zealand away and back into the current. For the first time in this regatta, it appeared that Oracle Team USA was sailing their game, matching the Kiwis in upwind boat speed to increase their lead at the bottom mark. It was possible that the Kiwis had the occasional misstep due to a crew change in between races, as Grant Dalton stepped off the boat, albeit for veteran Winston Macfarlane.
As Oracle Team USA headed on the downhill run, it was a matter of keeping the surging Kiwis behind them, as Emirates Team New Zealand hit 43 knots of boat speed -- showing that perhaps even their downhill speed was superior to Oracle Team USAís. But catching is not passing, as the American team made no mistakes on the run, while the Kiwis seemed to endure more bouncing than normal on the V-shaped foils. At the line, it was the USA fansí turn to cheer, as Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand by seven seconds in front of thousands of flag-waving fans gathered on the end of Pier 27.
James Spithill, Oracle Team USA
Itís huge. Itís good to see the team under some serious pressure, especially after that first race, when we had the lead and let that one slip away. A lesser team might have crumpled in the fourth race but this team is very good under pressure and they will fight right to the end. Theyíll run themselves into the ground, if thatís what it takes. To lose three in a row and then bounce back and win one, especially going into the break tomorrow, was a real confidence booster. Weíre approaching it one race at a time but itís good to shift the momentum over to us.
I was pretty disappointed that I was able to lead around the first mark twice yesterday and I really wanted to turn it around. Thereís no secret that if you can get to that first mark in good shape, it can affect the outcome of the race and thatís something both teams put a lot of emphasis on. [The nosedive] was really our only crew handling mistake, the boys have been sailing the boat really well. It was an obvious mistake and put us under pressure straightaway but what was good to see was the guys just keeping their cool and keeping them behind us for the rest of the beat. For the guys who are doing the work, itís nonstop, itís relentless. The crew has a big effect on the outcome of these races.
But the downside of being the defender is that you only get to race one other boat and itís essentially the same boat. Even though you make it as fierce and as tough racing as you can -- and we have, Ben and the guys have really pushed us the whole way. But itís not an excuse; we need to improve other areas, like tacking.
Dean Barker, Emirates Team New Zealand
Their time-on-distance at the start was pretty nice. I thought they might have been a bit late when they tacked but they managed to get back to the start line right on time, so they had a bit of momentum. They got a nice bit of pressure out of the mark which we didnít quite get, so they had a pretty nice lead.
They sailed well today, they led around both mark number ones, but we did a good job in the first one to get back in front. The second one we could have done better, but what we take out of that race is the fact that we sailed -- by our standards -- a pretty average race and we were still pretty close at the end.
Weíve got to be on top of our game to keep winning races; weíve got to win a lot more points. We know what we need to do to get better, like getting a better position at mark one -- then you have a lot more control over your destiny. Itís good for the team; you donít like losing races but at the same time, there are a lot of good things that can come out of it which will make us better on Tuesday.
-- Diane Swintal for CupInfo/©2013 CupInfo.com
Image:©2013 ACEA/Photo: Balazs Guardi
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