The ORACLE Racing Spithill crew swept across the finish line ahead of Energy Team to a 2-0 win on Saturday afternoon, earning appreciative applause from the large crowd gathered just a few yards away on Broadway and Navy Piers. The victory gave ORACLE Racing Spithill the Match Racing Championship at the AC World Series in San Diego.
“We’re really happy,” Spithill said. “We’ve worked very hard after the last regatta on our match racing; the sail design team, the shore team, our preparation was second to none, so it’s great to reward the team with victory. Energy Team have had great speed and been sailing very well… We did a good job of hanging tough, keeping composed and really keeping close. When we found the opportunity we took it and didn’t look back. I’m very happy.”
Conditions were tricky again on San Diego Bay, with the wind variable in direction, and ranging from 5 to 11 knots in strength. The sun was out for much of the day, bringing the crowds down to the AC Village.
“It was really difficult today, the wind was very shifty,” confirmed Energy Team skipper Yann Guichard. “We had a good start in the first race, but then I made a small mistake and they passed us. In the second race there was no opportunity to come back. Jimmy was better today. They were the stronger team on the water. But I’m happy. We’ve done a good job all week.”
Summary of Saturday 19 November 2011
On Sunday afternoon the full fleet is on the water again, scheduled to race in another AC500 Speed Trial before the big, winner-takes-all, Fleet Racing Championship.
“There’s no question we want the double (winning the fleet and match racing events),” Spithill said after racing, with great conviction. “We want to be the first team to win both events. So we’re going to do everything we can tomorrow to get a victory.”
San Diego Match Racing Championship – Final
Energy Team’s Yann Guichard looked like the more experienced match racer in his first start against ORACLE Racing’s Jimmy Spithill, winning the favored side of the line and leading into the first mark. But Guichard and crew made a crucial mistake halfway through the race, allowing the American team to sail away to the opposite side of the race track where Spithill found the wind he needed to get ahead. Protecting a slim lead, Spithill then forced Energy Team to make a very slow double tack, gaining enough of an extra margin to sail comfortably to the finish and a 1-0 lead.
ORACLE Racing Spithill was strong in the second pre-start and led Energy Team across the starting line and into the first mark. In lighter conditions, Spithill was firm in protecting his position against a French team that showed good speed in the flat water and lighter winds. But on the second lap of the course, ORACLE Racing extended away for a convincing race win, taking the Match Racing Championship 2-0.
San Diego Match Racing Championship – Placing races
Dean Barker, the skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand hounded Artemis Racing towards the starting line, pushing them close earlly, and preventing the Swedish team from building speed before the start, allowing the Kiwis an early lead. Artemis skipper Terry Hutchinson initiated a furious tacking duel to break cover on the first upwind leg, but despite gaining his freedom, he didn’t find the favorable wind shift he needed and New Zealand continued to lead onto the second lap of the course and through to the finish. ETNZ is third, with Artemis Racing fourth.
Aleph rolled over the top ORACLE Racing Coutts moments after the starting gun fired to grab a small lead at the first mark. French skipper Pierre Pennec, with limited match racing experience, sailed like a veteran from that moment onwards, trying to cover his opponent whenever possible the rest of the way around the course to win fifth place. ORACLE Racing Coutts is sixth.
Team Korea was given a penalty in a pre-start dominated by Green Comm Racing’s Vasco Zbogar and trailed around the first lap of the course. But at the bottom gate, the Spanish team gave Korean skipper Chris Draper an opportunity to split away to the opposite side of the race course where he found a favorable wind shift to steal a narrow lead. The Korean team would sail flawlessly to the finish to earn seventh place. Green Comm Racing finishes eighth.
Results – San Diego Match Racing Championship
Team Korea (7th) beat Green Comm Racing (8th)
Aleph (5th) beat ORACLE Racing Coutts (6th)
Emirates Team New Zealand (3rd) beat Artemis Racing (4th)
Final –ORACLE Racing Spithill beat Energy Team 2-0
James Spithill, skipper, ORACLE Racing Spithill:
“There’s no question we want the double (winning the fleet and match racing events). We want to be the first team to win both events. So we’re going to do everything we can tomorrow to get a victory.”
Yann Guichard, skipper, Energy Team:
“It was really difficult today, the wind was very shifty. We had a good start in the first race, but then I made a small mistake and they passed us. In the second race there was no opportunity to come back. Jimmy was better today. They were the stronger team on the water. But I’m happy. We’ve done a good job all week.”
Chris Draper, skipper, Team Korea:
“We were in a good situation on the start line. Tried to make it a really good situation, but evidently the umpires thought we’d infringed Green Comm. We got a penalty there. We were happy when Green Comm gave us the left side of the beat, because that’s what we’d wanted, but it couldn’t have been more heinous when we got there. We thought the race had slipped away from us but then we did a good job to knuckle down and get back in there. Really pleased for the team and the whole project that we managed to turn that one around.”
Darren Bundock, skipper, ORACLE Racing Coutts:
“A disappointing day really. Would have liked to do a lot better. Even though it was our first match racing series I thought against Aleph we should have been able to mix it up and do a lot better. We’ve all got really talented guys, so we should be able to do well. We won the leeward end of the line which was our plan, but they came out of the line with more speed than us and rolled over the top. From then on it was nearly impossible to catch up. It’s pretty unique where you come to the America’s Cup and say it’s your first match racing experience. So that’s what I’ll be focusing on in the next few months.”
Dean Barker, skipper, Emirates Team New Zealand:
“We sailed a lot more like we expect today. Yesterday we made a lot of mistakes and let ourselves down in a lot of areas. That was a real wake-up call. It was good to go out there into a sudden-death format and sail well. Yesterday I think we were a bit too relaxed, maybe not enough intensity when we left the dock, and paid for it. Disappointing not to reach the final but it’s nice to win our sail-off for third.”
Terry Hutchinson, skipper, Artemis Racing:
“It’s a game of inches. We felt like we’d pushed Emirates into a hard place to start the boat and they got away a bit better than we did. From our perspective he was OCS! All five of us on the boat said ‘he’s over, hold back, don’t go!’ But clearly he wasn’t over, because they didn’t call him. From there we pushed them hard, but it was a bit of a one-way track out of the bottom of the course, so we had to follow them to mitigate any further loss.”
Vasilij Zbogar, skipper, Green Comm Racing:
“It was a tough day, because the wind was shifting a lot. A lot of holes, so it was really hard to sail a match race in those conditions. We had a great start and a big lead, but we had a little bit of back luck, no wind at the leeward mark rounding. I was waiting for the first gust to come and to tack on the gust. In that moment the gust was very short. It lasted just a few seconds. The Koreans smoked away. It was very tough for us. It was a very important race for us because we like to win, we are at the stage where feel we should be able to beat most of these guys.”
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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