Big crowds in excess of 10,000 turned out to watch the first day of racing at the AC World Series – Plymouth, and they were treated to a display of excellent racing in challenging conditions.
Emirates Team New Zealand won two of three fleet races to open the event. Not to be outdone, Russell Coutts and his ORACLE Racing crew set the pace in the AC500 Speed Trials, posting the fastest time over the 500 meter runway.
Day 1 – Short News
News feed following day one’s fleet racing and AC500 speed trial
(total 02:19min | from the americascup channel)
The race course was set up in the Sound, just meters offshore from the Plymouth Hoe, making day one of the event pure ‘stadium sailing’.
“It was pretty awesome to see a crowd like that supporting the sport,” said Artemis Racing skipper Terry Hutchinson. “There were a lot of public on the Plymouth Hoe and around the course. I don’t think anyone expected something like that. Imagine what could happen with a sunny day.”
With the wind blowing in excess of 20 knots at times, boat handling was the key skill today, combined with brave starting. Dean Barker and the Kiwis took the first race with their big rivals from Cascais, Portugal. ORACLE Racing Spithill, in hot pursuit. James Spithill’s colleagues on ORACLE Racing Coutts were disqualified for being over too early on the start line.
Day 1 – Full Replay
Enjoy this full replay with technical sailing commentary.
(total 3:06:00min | from the americascup channel)
Even in these big breezes, getting a great start was proving critical, and this time Spithill managed to control the Kiwis, keeping his rivals slow while he shot away to an early lead that grew as the race continued. In a big pile-up at the downwind gate, just meters away from the spectators on the sea wall, French team Aleph was forced to bail out to avoid a collision. With the breeze at its highest, some teams were really struggling with controlling the high-speed cats, and Artemis Racing narrowly avoided a capsize at one mark rounding. Team Korea meanwhile was forced to retire from this race with equipment problems.
Dean Barker learned his lesson from the previous start and this time had a great launch from the downwind end of the line to lead around the first mark, narrowly in front of Artemis Racing and Spithill. The American defender kept up the pressure until he got caught up in an altercation with a local sailor watching the proceedings from his small cruising yacht. Spithill was forced to bring his catamaran to a grinding halt while he waited for the yacht to motor clear of the course.
By the time ORACLE Racing Spithill was up and running again, the Kiwis were long gone. Now the race was with the other ORACLE boat, and they were shown no mercy by Russell Coutts who closed them out and sailed in front. Meanwhile Artemis had pounced on the ORACLE mishap to move into second place.
Emirates Team New Zealand’s two race wins on the day gave them the lead in the fleet racing, and Dean Barker did a fly-by for the crowds as he waved his appreciation to the people of Plymouth who had come to watch. Artemis finished the day on equal points with Spithill.
Immediately afterwards the nine teams lined up for the AC500 Speed Trial, and Russell Coutts and his experienced crew showed the younger teams how to get maximum speed out of an AC45 in a straight line. Coutts scored a time of 39.69 seconds, with a top speed of 28.18 mph, 1.48 seconds faster than second-placed Emirates Team New Zealand.
Quotes of the day
Chris Draper, Team Korea, on his day:
“We could easily have come out of today with three thirds or fourths and that would have been a good day. We pushed a bit hard and came away with three bad results. Just a bit silly, a bit greedy, sights set a bit high maybe.”
Dean Barker, Emirates Team New Zealand on starting:
“It’s hard, in a perfect world you’d come flying through and get a nice slingshot off the line, but you obviously have to fight hard to get a good position. In the second race we came in too early and were a sitting duck. To get a third was pretty good from where we were at the first mark.”
Iain Percy, riding as guest racer on Artemis:
“Not for the faint hearted, the sixth man position. Probably the most dangerous place if you did a head over heels, as you have the furthest to fall. You’ve got to hang on a little bit.”
James Spithill, ORACLE Racing,
.. on whether he and Russell Coutts ever help each other out on the race course: “Not one inch, mate, not one inch. If their heads are under, you just hold them down there.”
Russell Coutts, ORACLE Racing,
.. on opening day in Plymouth: “I thought it was a great first day for Plymouth. Gives people an inkling of what it will be like next weekend.”
Terry Hutchinson, Artemis Racing,
.. on nearly capsizing: “We was really close to capsizing during the mark rounding. We say a couple of ‘Oh boys, oh boys’, but we reacted well and just managed to keep the situation under control.”
Bertrand Pacé, Aleph,
.. on needing to ‘bail out’ to avoid a collision at the gate: “At the leeward gate we were going a little bit too fast. I think I made the right call. I was very surprised how slow everyone ahead of us was at the gate. If I had put my nose in, there would have been a lot of carbon fibre work happening tonight!!!”
Loick Peyron, on a sub-standard day for Energy Team:
“Our starts were not great and we were not very good at picking our way through the wind shifts. Overall we played safe, we are still learning – and taking risks for the sake of taking risks is not the style I prefer.”
Javier de la Plaza, wing trimmer, Green Comm Racing:
“This wasn’t a great day in terms of results, but it was a day to avoid problems and not break anything. Overall, I am happy with how we sailed, but we still have a lot to learn. We have to get more speed out of the boat.”
Charlie Ogletree, skipper, China Team:
“We are excited. That was a very good first day! All of our practice is paying off. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. If we are to pick one thing to improve on, it would be to keep focusing on improving communication and boat handling.”
The 34th America´s Cup consists of three main stages – the America´s Cup World Series, the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America´s Cup Finals. Each AC World Series regatta will be a combination of practice and championship racing, with additional practice sailing on-site ahead of each event.
Photos / Videos: Americas Cup & © GILLES MARTIN-RAGET / ACEA
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