Spithill, Spithill, Spithill...but then Barker again
Today, James Spithill and his Oracle Racing crew won all three fleet races, but their good work was entirely undone in the ‘all or nothing’ match race for first place, when Emirates Team New Zealand made a pass on the second lap of the course to secure the match, and victory on the day. It was the third consecutive day of scoring maximum points for the Kiwi team, who now proceed directly to Saturday’s semi finals.
“It starts again tomorrow,” Barker said. “The last three days don't matter too much. We've learned a lot in both match racing and the fleet racing. It hasn't been smooth, these boats are challenging to sail well and if you make a mistake you get penalized badly, so it will be case of minimizing mistakes to keep sailing around the track.”
Spithill’s disappointment at losing the match race will be tempered by his second place seeding heading into Saturday; he also earns a bye into the semi finals.
“These have been some of the best match races I’ve ever done,” Spithill said. “It’s physical, and with the onboard footage, I think people watching are getting a real understanding of how high-pressure these decisions are and how hard it is. And I think that’s great.”
Of their triple fleet race wins, Spithill commented: “We finally put the package together today – starts, tactics and really, really good boathandling and speed. It felt nice because every day we have gone out and done something well but were missing something else. The big goal for today was to put it all together and we did.”
He added of today's final match race: “We got off the line well again, and couldn’t believe they didn’t get a penalty on the entry. But we really handed the lead to them in a fundamental error down at the bottom of the downwind leg. It’s good to learn that now because our crew and the Kiwis were going to be 1st and 2nd going into the semifinal. It highlights how quickly opportunities for passing come and go.” The crew made a late jibe to make a starboard rounding, which let Team New Zealand escape the cover with a port rounding.
“Because of the speeds the boats are travelling the decisions come much faster. We lost our lead in no man’s land down there. It was frustrating, but we might as well learn it now. We still have some work to do.”
Four teams will be fighting on Saturday for the other two semi final positions. Sixth placed Energy Team will take on third placed Artemis Racing, while Oracle Racing Coutts faces off against Team Korea. Both matches are ‘sudden death’ with the winner advancing to the semis and loser going home.
“We are really happy to learn and very happy to make the cut - the be in the top six and to be match racing tomorrow,” said Energy Team skipper Loick Peyron. “It’s a chance to race against the best.”
“We’ve been over the moon with how we’ve been sailing,” said his counterpart with Team Korea, Chris Draper. “We still feel we’re making some silly mistakes… I think we could have had a couple of top three finishes today, but it’s a whole new game and we’re really pleased with how it’s been going so far.”
The bottom three teams on the leaderboard following Friday’s racing – Green Comm Racing, Aleph and China Team – will not be competing on Saturday.
But they will return to competition on Sunday with the AC World Series – Cascais Championship, a winner-takes-all fleet race that will alone determines the winner of the first stage on this new global professional circuit.
|1||Emirates Team New Zealand||Dean Barker||10||10||10||30|
|2||ORACLE Racing Spithill||James Spithill||9||8||9||26|
|3||Artemis Racing||Terry Hutchinson||6||9||7||22|
|4||ORACLE Racing Coutts||Russell Coutts||5||7||8||20|
|5||Team Korea||Chris Draper||8||6||6||20|
|6||Energy Team||Loick Peyron||7||5||4||16|
|7||Green Comm Racing||Vasilij Zbogar||3||3||5||11|
|9||China Team||Mitch Booth||3||4||3||10|
More images from Jesus Renedo/www.sailingstock.com