Iain Percy and Artemis Racing put Dean Barker's SoftBank Team Japan out of the America's Cup and set up a clash with Emirates Team New Zealand
It took only 20 minutes today for Artemis Racing to end Dean Barker’s hopes in this America’s Cup, as the Swedish-backed team won their fourth race in a row in the playoff semi finals.
From a position of 3-1 down, Nathan Outteridge, Iain Percy and the Artemis crew continued the momentum they built up yesterday to defeat Barker. They sailed cleanly and neatly in windy conditions that were at the top end of the range for the AC50s: around 21 knots average, gusting up to 26 at times.
The two boats appeared to be quite evenly matched in terms of speed, but the Artemis crew sailed better and made fewer mistakes,. Today the single biggest deciding factor in the showdown race was a decision by Barker to tack just to windward of Artemis on an upwind leg, allowing Outteridge to luff him up.
Artemis Racing were able to defend the gain made and went on to win the race.
See the manoeuvre in this video and hear Iain Percy explain it, and also reflect on the improvements the team had made.
A delighted Torbjorn Tornqvist, the Swedish oil trader who backs the Artemis team, jumped on board after the finish and grasped Nathan Outteridge’s hand.
When I asked Outteridge what the team had done to engineer their comeback from 3-1 down, he replied: “ I think the main thing is that we’ve just simplified our racing slightly. I think it’s easy to get caught up into the battle and forget the extra details needed to sail well.
“Iain Percy had a few words to the team and just reminded us to trust our gut and sail the boat to our capabilities. On top of that we’ve made a nice improvement to the boat, to the control system, and I think when you have confidence in your equipment you can really push it hard.”
All over for SoftBank Team Japan
At a press conference after his defeat, Dean Barker looked deeply sad – more visibly deflated than Ben Ainslie appeared yesterday after Land Rover BAR were beaten. Unlike Ainslie, he did not have mitigating good news to announce about continuing sponsorship.
Barker did point out that a heavy collision with something in the water just after leaving the marina this morning had likely caused some damage and robbed the crew of crucial pre-race preparation time while a diver inspected the foils (the on board footage showed a gouge in one of the daggerboards).
However, he did not flinch from acknowledging that he and his team had made too many mistakes.
“Pretty much every race you come away with a list of things you could do better. Even races you win you know there are things you could have done differently. There clearly were mistakes which we made in different races and obviously you’d like to turn back the time,” he said.
“A lot of decision-making is instinctive and you have to go on your game. Yesterday we had a couple of poor starts which put the pressure on.
“I think you saw two teams which were pretty evenly matched. In a lot of areas there was very little between the two boats in performance. It just came down to who executed the race better. They [Artemis] did a good job yesterday and they took advantage of a couple of mistakes I made today.”
Barker said that he hoped to be a part of the next Cup should it follow the course laid out in the framework agreement, which has been signed by all the teams bar New Zealand.
Artemis Racing now progress into the playoff finals to race against Emirates Team New Zealand, the favourites to go through to the Cup match.
But Artemis has nothing to lose in this contest, and Outteridge sounded chirpy.
“I think if we can keep pushing our boat to the limit in the next couple of days,” he said, “there should be some incredible racing.”