Kiwis win both races after winning from behind and ahead, each time destroying Oracle upwind
Would this prove to be the day that the America’s Cup turned a corner to head to New Zealand? From what we saw in the first race of the day the answer was yes. The racing now seems to be falling into a familiar pattern. Despite the recent changes aboard Oracle, the Kiwis are devastatingly quick upwind, quick enough to come back from behind time and again.
They say boat speed makes you look like a tactical genius but the Kiwis currently have both providing more evidence that the Cup is now heading one way, south.
The breeze was as light as we’ve seen it so far, down to around 10-12knots just before the start but the racing showed signs of a pattern developing.
Once again Oracle Racing got the upper hand at the start by an even bigger margin than before and once again the Defenders extended their lead slightly downwind. But once again, after the bottom mark the balance of power started to shift back in favour of the Kiwis.
The upwind leg started with a split at the bottom gate, Oracle choosing to head out towards the mainland shore after round the left gate, the Kiwis taking the opposite mark and heading towards Alcatraz on the right. Minutes later when the pair came together the race had closed up with Oracle forced to duck the Kiwis who were on starboard coming away from the boundary.
While the lead had changed it was to change yet again as Oracle took the advantage of the right hand side and came out on starboard. From there and for the next few minutes the pair engaged in the kind of match racing that many have said simply wasn’t possible. But with a dial down and 14 tacks up the beat it was clear that this was not true.
Unfortunately for Oracle it was also clear that the Kiwis are simply quicker upwind, especially through the tacks.
By the top mark Emirates Team New Zealand were ahead by 44 seconds having gained 53 seconds on the beat.
Adding insult to injury for Oracle, the left hand shift that they were looking for on the upwind leg only came one the downwind leg turning the run to the bottom of the course into a one way track. From here the game was over as the Kiwis crossed the line 46 seconds ahead.
Serious relief for the Kiwis, a head in hands moment for Oracle.
“They’ve got some wheels out of the bottom mark,” said Spithill of the Kiwis. “We’ve got to re-group and get ready for the next one.”
A familiar pattern was emerging.
The second race of the day saw no change in American fortunes, in fact it was worse from the start as the Kiwis delivered more bad news by winning the start with a perfectly judged time on distance dash into the line. As they scorched off to mark one they made the task of rolling Oracle to leeward looked easy.
As they turned to go downhill Barker and Co. were ahead by 2 seconds. From here the Kiwis protected their slim advantage, rounding the leeward mark 7 seconds ahead before battering Oracle upwind.
The early signs of a pattern that we saw developing in the most recent races was now starting to firm up. As the distance between the pair grew from 200m to 400m by the time the Kiwis rounded the weather mark, it was beyond doubt that the Kiwis do indeed have a seriously quick boat upwind.
At the finish the Kiwis were 1min 6 secs ahead.
While it’s never over until it’s over, today’s racing was devastating for Oracle and provided the clearest indication yet that the Cup’s heading down under.
Given that, how could Spithill keep his motivation?
“I think the real question is what a story it would be if they lost,” he replied. “They’ve almost got it in the bag. Losing it would be a hell of a story, it would be a hell of a fight back and something that I’d love to be a part of. That’s our motivation.”
Score so far
Americas Cup Race 6 NZL USA
Distance Sailed (km) 22.797 22.888
Average Speed (kts) 23.43 22.91
Max Speed (kts) 38.55 40.21
Winning margin 46sec
Americas Cup Race 7 NZL USA
Distance Sailed (km) 21.668 22.247
Average Speed (kts) 28.32 27.86
Max Speed (kts) 44.73 41.00
Winning margin 1min 6sec