The series that doesn’t want to end as the drama builds yet further as the America’s Cup gets into day 8
There were jitters aplenty this morning as the teams prepared to head out onto the water. The Kiwis were off to have another stab at making this the final day of the Cup, Oracle were out there to keep their dream alive.
Opinion was split between a 2:0 victory to the Kiwis and the end of the Cup, and the one-apiece day that would push the Cup still further. But no one had considered what actually ended up happening.
A victory in the first of two races and Emirates Team New Zealand was just one race away from taking the America’s Cup leaving Oracle firmly in the last chance saloon.
The Kiwi victory had started with a dominant performance at the start with Dean Barker forcing Spithill to follow into the start line a boat length behind. Not content with that, the Kiwi skipper squeezed the American boat up, slowed the game down before pulling the trigger for the sprint to the first mark.
From there the Kiwis led the race all the way round but the shifty and puffy breeze delivered plenty of snakes and ladders across the race course, expanding and then contracting the Kiwis lead.
By the last mark the game had squeezed up to as close as at the start as Barker pinned Spithill above the layline for the final rounding. The cool headed tactic worked and the Kiwis finished the leg by 15 seconds.
One race, just one race and the Cup could be the Kiwis’.
The aggressive start to Race 12 was as punchy as we’ve seen yet with Spithill trying to take the leeward end of the line and Barker determined to roll over the top in a high speed blast to the line.
With seconds to go Barker looked good pushing the bows down, accelerating over the top Oracle. Sitting to leeward Spithill tried to get to Barker as windward boat but in doing so fell off his foils in a spectacular plant. Just metres away from Barker and convinced the Kiwis had fouled them he pressed the protest button as both boats hit the line.
But seconds later more drama as the race committee were forced to postpone the race as the breeze went through the 19.9knot upper limit.
Just as you and I might continue up the beat after a general recall, both boats continued their charge to the first mark, this race meant too much to risk stopping.
But the postponement was for real and despite the Kiwis reaching the first mark first, both boats were recalled to the start area while the race committee waited for the breeze to settle down below the upper limit.
A dramatic end to a punchy day and a dramatic series.
Although the Kiwis were in the lead, they may have been secretly happy at the postponement. While waiting for the re-start that never came, several of the crew were seen patching up something under the wing end plate. Was this serious or simply a trivial detail? We might find out later but I wouldn’t mind guess that whatever the problem they will be playing down the problem.
Tensions were running high this morning, the place now feels like a giant stress biscuit.
Racing resumes at 1315 tomorrow Thursday 2115 BST