The first three America’s Cup World Series events became notable for the wide range of strong performances up and down the fleet. While the opening competition in Cascais saw the stronger, more practised teams at the top of the table, the subsequent races in Plymouth and San Diego saw the glory spread around more evenly through the fleet.
Looking at the leaderboards after three events, it will come as no surprise to see the consistently strong performances of Emirates Team New Zealand and ORACLE Racing Spithill have them leading the Match Racing and Fleet Racing Championships respectively (and in second place to each other in the opposite discipline as well).
Consistency is the key here. The lowest score for the Kiwis across the six championship events is a still lofty third. Spithill’s crew slipped up with a fifth place in Plymouth’s match racing, falling to the charging Team Korea, but they’ve countered that by winning four of the six events.
But beyond the top two, it gets a little mixed up, and far more interesting.
“We’ve seen a lot of different race winners, which is a really good thing,” said Regatta Director Iain Murray in San Diego, where both French teams and China Team all won fleet races for the first time. “I think the level of competition has come up and I think everyone has lifted their game.”
Who, for example, would have thought Aleph would hold third place in the Fleet Racing Championship after three events? And in doing so be ahead of teams like Artemis Racing and ORACLE Racing Coutts? But there they are, again, showing that consistency pays. Although their top result in the three events is fourth place (twice), their worst is a still-credible sixth. Those chasing have finished last (ORACLE Racing Coutts in San Diego) or not at all (Artemis in Plymouth).
On the Match Racing side of the ledger, Artemis Racing’s 3-3-4 scoreline gives the Swedish Challenger third spot, just ahead of Team Korea (on the strength of a second place finish in Plymouth) and Energy Team (second in San Diego).
Adding the Fleet and Match Racing Championship points again highlights the excellence put forward by Emirates Team New Zealand and ORACLE Racing Sptihill. The Kiwis lead overall by a single point, but both teams have separated themselves from those chasing.
So again, behind the top two is where it gets interesting, with just five points separating Artemis Racing in third, from Energy Team in sixth.
The end of San Diego marked the halfway point in the 2011-2012 America’s Cup World Series which resumes in April in Naples, Italy and May in Venice, before concluding in Newport, Rhode Island at the end of June. That’s three more events for the teams collect points and move up – or down – the Championship tables. Putting the time between now and Naples to good use is critical for teams with higher aspirations.
“We need to work hard over the next few months so that when we show up in Italy, we’re crisper, we’re more efficient in our manoeuvring and we’re sailing better,” said Artemis Racing skipper Terry Hutchinson at the closing press conference in San Diego.
But Hutchinson won’t be alone; look for everyone to be sailing at an even higher level come April 7 in Naples.
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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