Emirates Team New Zealand wins match racing series but is Team Korea the new team to watch? Matthew Sheahan reports
Team Korea kicked off Saturday’s racing with a mammoth result as Chris Draper’s team beat Terry Hutchinson’s Artemis in two straight races to take their place in the match racing final against Emirates Team New Zealand.
In the best of three semi-final, Team Korea started on the back foot in both of their races, but went on to sail smarter each time, employing classic match racing tactics to take the lead from behind and then protect their position.
Winning the match racing series overall would be a massive result for the Korean team that includes many British sailors, yet irrespective of the final result, their performance throughout the event had made them one of the biggest talking points in Plymouth.
When it came to the first of the best of three final itself, Emirates Team New Zealand pinned Team Korea up from to leeward before putting their pedal to the metal and scorching off to the first turning mark to lead the race. A bad gybe by Team Korea handed the Kiwis even more of an advantage in just one minute of racing.
From there on it was a one sided race in favour of Barker and his crew, the shifty, gusty conditions not providing the favours that Draper and his team wanted to get back into the mix.
In the second race it was classic match racing from the start with Dean Barker squeezing Draper onto the course side 50 secs before the start, forcing Draper to return on the wrong side of the committee boat and then attacking again once the two met on the other side.
Smart work on the first true downwind leg saw Draper close the distance to just 8 seconds.
A match racing beat saw Draper hang onto the match and Barker forced to protect his slim lead. By the bottom of the second downwind leg the gap had closed to five seconds as the Kiwis continued to lead. Whatever the final outcome for Draper and Co., the pressure that his team had placed on yet another of the big guns was guaranteed to make the newcomers a talking point.
So it was Dean Barker and his team that took the Plymouth Match Racing series and places them in first position for the overall America’s Cup World Series.
Tomorrow, Sunday, sees a return to one last 40 minute fleet race. With plenty of breeze forecast it promises to be an exciting finale.
MATCH RACING FINAL RESULTS
1 – Emirates Team New Zealand
2 – Team Korea
3 – Artemis Racing
4 – ORACLE Racing Coutts
5 – ORACLE Racing Spithill
6 – Energy Team
7 – Green Comm Racing
8 – China Team
9 – Aleph
Read what Matthew Sheahan and Elaine Bunting are up to in Plymouth at the AC World Series