Oracle Spithill is the first team to win both the match racing and fleet racing after a thrilling final day’s racing in San Diego
After winning the match race series on Saturday, the current Cup winning skipper had said that he wanted to be the first to win the match and fleet racing at the same event. Today his team did just that.
The breeze was up in the teens, with gusts into the twenties at times which, made for an exciting and blistering thrash to the first mark. Here it was Dean Barker and the Kiwis that reached the first mark in first place, but only just, slicing across Spithill’s bows.
Although the scrap at the first leeward gate saw Barker hold his lead, the long upwind leg was to see a major re-shuffle in the fleet. By the weather mark Artemis had taken the lead, Team Energy had slipped into second, while Spithill rounded the weather gate in third. Barker and Emirates Team New Zealand had plummeted to fifth place. But if that wasn’t a big enough change around the next few seconds was to see another lead change with Spithill demonstrating how a perfect weather mark rounding can leap frog you into the lead.
From there the pace settled for Spithill who smoked off into the distance. For the rest the race was still a scrap.
By the second beat it was Chris Draper’s Team Korea who took second place for a while until Barker snatched the place for himself. Behind him it was the two French teams, Energy and Aleph who were demonstrating once again why they have been two of the most talked about teams of the week having changed their crews and their fortunes with it.
For some like Terry Hutchinson’s Artemis, it was another dismal day. Wrapping the head of their genoa during the round up at the bottom mark forced them to turn downhill to unravel the mess, costing them distance and places in the process while placing them precariously close to yet another pitch pole. Their last day in Plymouth had seen a major dunking for the crew.
The following rounds of the race saw the positions settle down as the distances started to extend throughout the fleet. In the end it was the same two familiar faces that finished first and second, Spithill and Barker, with the French teams in third and fourth, a major improvement for both.
The AC World Series tour takes a break now until April 2012 when the series kicks off in Naples. In the meantime it sounds like Valencia will be the focus of Cup action once again as several of the teams head to Spain for their winter training.
Results – San Diego Fleet Racing Championship
1. ORACLE Racing Spithill
2. Emirates Team New Zealand
3. Energy Team
5. Team Korea
6. Artemis Racing
7. China Team
8. Green Comm Racing
9. ORACLE Racing Coutts
Results – AC500 Speed Trial
ORACLE Racing – Coutts – 26.87 knots
ORACLE Racing – Spithill – 26.79 knots
Emirates Team New Zealand – 26.56 knots
Artemis Racing – 25.98 knots
Energy Team – 25.96 knots
China Team – 25.67 knots
ALEPH – 25.19 knots
Green Comm Racing – 24.74 knots
Team Korea – 24.30 knots