Up against the ropes, Oracle gets a stay of execution by winning race 12 and building the excitement still further
If you’re planning a comeback, it is surely best to make your intentions clear from the start, precisely what Spithill and Oracle Racing did when they dominated from the beginning of this must win race.
Given how close the relative boat speeds now are and how close the racing is as a result, the start has become more important than ever before. Oracle’s hopes on pulling back from the abyss now depend on getting this right every time as well as nailing the race afterwards.
Both boats were too early for the start which caused the Kiwis problems as they were sitting to windward with Spithill lurking menacingly to leeward.
After the race Barker was to admit to making a mistake by gybing too early to come back to the line giving him little room to slow down and manoeuvre. Spithill knew it and pounced.
With seconds to go Spithill got the hook and forced the Barker to tack off onto port. The result – the Kiwis were 6 seconds behind Oracle off the start – a crushing blow given how important the start has proved to be in these later races.
The rest of the race saw Oracle maintain their lead, foiling upwind at over 30knots, at one point hitting a peak of 36knots as their speed ran away with them.
If, ‘boat speed makes you a tactical genius’, as the saying goes, Ainslie must have been having the day of his life as the home team’s strategy not only defended their lead, but extended it to over 100m.
On the downwind leg there was more of the same, match perfect tactics by Spithill’s team and no opportunity for Barker and Co to get back into the race and take the America’s Cup in the process.
“The boys are really focused today, we’re going to get onto the next race straightaway,” said a pumped Spithill after the first race. “We love a challenge and we got what we wished for in that department!”
The next focus was on the weather. With the forecast suggesting the breeze would build further and with the ebb tide building too, the next question was whether the conditions would remain under the limits for the second race.
But just as we were told at the beginning of the day, conditions were expected to be the same as the day before – they were and the race was blown off in the pre-start with 90 seconds to go.
So while much was the same, the result was the complete reverse, leaving the outcome of the 34th America’s Cup suspended for another day.
In the absence of a victor on the race course, the clear winners elsewhere are the airlines and hotels as thousands re-organsie their flights and accommodation once again. It’s become the talk of the town.
Tomorrow is a reserve day and therefore now a race day and will start at the usual time 1315 local 2115 BST
Score so far – First to 9
USA: 2 (have won 2 races wiping off their 2 point penalty)
America’s Cup Race 12 NZL USA
Distance Sailed (km) 21.580 21.850
Average Speed (kts) 29.01 29.90
Max Speed (kts) 41.24 42.62
Winning margin 31sec