Two races stood out in particular in some of the closest action we've seen this season and Day 3 was no picnic
Another win on the scoreboard for the South African team has moved them a step closer towards their Act 8 goal of three wins. The race against the German team was one of the closest we’ve seen with plenty of spills for both boats.
Right from the first upwind leg the match was close, but when the South Africans broke their spinnaker pole, the Germans looked certain to overhaul them for good. Until that is the Germans blew a spinnaker sheet and lost the advantage.
Some skilful improvisation from the South Africans saw them hold onto their lead by flying the symmetrical spinnaker as an asymmetrical chute. By the top mark for the second time they hadn’t managed to fix the spinnaker pole and the match was still nail bitingly close. Surely the Germans would slip past now?
Not with a blown out spinnaker they wouldn’t!
Shosholoza managed to fly their A sail wing on wing for a while and with some smart gybing held a very narrow lead down to the finish to take another point.
“Results like this give us a chance to get onto our front foot, get out of this racing season with a feeling of confidence,” said aft grinder Tim Kreuger. “There’s nothing wrong with our boat, there’s nothing wrong with our general set up and we’ve got to start working on the fine tuning.”
The other match of the day was surely the closest we’ve seen since the Cup left Auckland with a final delta of just 3 seconds in the needle-match between Emirates Team New Zealand and BMW Oracle Racing.
Never more than three boat lengths apart, the pair engaged in tacking duels on both upwind legs, got caught up in a few luffing matches at the weather mark, rolled eachother a few times and generally put more pressure on eachother than we’ve seen in any of the other races.
In the end it was the Kiwis that won the match. But even with a few hundred metres to go and a 15 second lead to the Kiwis, the American boat surged, pumped and trimmed their way down a last chance saloon gust and closed the gap in the final moments of the race to finish three seconds behind.
“We had a ninety percent good day,’ said BMW Oracle skipper Chris Dickson. “We did all the things we expected to do and a few of the little things that we normally take for granted didn’t go right for us. We got the important things right, but missed out on the smaller details which turned out to be very, very important.”
An argument that could be aimed at Iain Percy’s team as well. Losing someone over the side is rarely the best way to maintain your lead in a match.
“Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson joined our swimming club and went for a swim today but it wasn’t very smart,” said 39 skipper Iain Percy. “To lose our race against team China was ridiculous. It was silly from us at the back and silly from them at the front. We lost the retrieval line before the drop and had to do a manual drop at the mark. Bart tried to pull the line it but it sucked him out instead.”
The result was a penalty for 39 as the umpire boat plucked Bart out of the water and returned him to the boat. The Chinese slipped by and took their first point of Act 8.
After a full on day, Percy was clearly disappointed at not scoring a point against a team that were struggling to hold the pace that the Italians had set. But 39’s day had started with a struggle when the boom broke before the first race had even started. Fortunately for them, a shifty breeze on the south course provided a long delay, long enough to fit a replacement.
There was some relief later in the day for his crew with a deserved win against the Spanish team in a tight race in breezy conditions with a big boat breaking swell running to add to the drama. On top of this, the blue and orange team smashed a mainsheet sheave in a hard gybe making it very difficult to dump or sheet the main making the result all the more impressive.
Having said that, the Spanish had their share of problems too when they blew their kite out on the downwind leg and then their genoa halyard on the second upwind leg.
All in all, a long day afloat with 39 returning after dark. But for many of the shore teams the work has only just begun as the night shift had already started.
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