Emirates Team New Zealand ahead
Emirates Team New Zealand once again proved the class act on the opening day of the America's Cup World Series racing in Plymouth. The Dean Barker-steered AC45, with the same crew of tactician Ray Davies, A-Class multiple World Champion Glenn Ashby, grinder Winston MacFarlane and trimmer James Dagg, as raced in Cascais, claimed two of today's three fleet races.
Out on Plymouth Sound the SSWerly breeze was 15-20 knots and guster higher, although this proved lighter than forecast and went right slightly over the course of the afternoon. Plymouth Hoe, as well as on all available land masses surrounding the race course, were teeming with spectators - estimated at 10,000 - who braved the grey conditions and occasional rain squalls to watch the racing, the leeward gate was set in the shadow of Hoe.
"It was pretty awesome to see a crowd like that supporting the sport,” said Artemis Racing skipper Terry Hutchinson. “There were a lot of public on the Plymouth Hoe and around the course. I don’t think anyone expected something like that. Imagine what could happen with a sunny day.”
“We expected the Hoe to offer an opportune vantage point and today’s crowd proves that belief,” said Oacle Racing CEO Russell Coutts. “AC45 racing is fast, strenuous and exciting, and the fans got all of that today.”
Throughout the day starting proved paramount. The first boat to the reaching mark in all three races ended up extending and winning. Emirates Team New Zealand took the first race with Oracle Racing Spithill, in hot pursuit. Oracle Racing Coutts was not so fortunate, disqualified for being OCS. China Team, with new skipper Charlie Ogletree and Austrian Andeas Hagara helming, did well holding third on the first run, but were slowly overhauled to end up sixth.
The start was also decisive in the second race with James Spithill locking out the Kiwis, who ended up uncharacteristically slow out of the blocks. Green Comm was fast out of the blocks, but Oracle Racing Spithill was faster; first to the reaching mark and never looked back. In a big pile-up going into the top marks, the Bertrand Pace-steered Aleph was forced to bail out to avoid a collision, resulting in Energy Team and Green Comm being penalised. Aleph never recovered, subsequently suffering from a bad furl in her genniker. With the breeze at its highest, some teams were really struggling with controlling the high-speed cats, and Artemis Racing narrowly avoided a capsize at one mark rounding. Team Korea meanwhile was forced to retire from this race with equipment problems.
Race three was similar to the first one with Emirates Team New Zealand leading the charge, this time from the downwind end of the line, with Artemis and Oracle Racing Spithill constantly on the attack until the second beat when Spithill was forced to bring his catamaran to a grinding halt while he waited for the yacht to motor clear of the course. Joe Newton and Dirk de Ridder fended off the 22ft cruising boat from the AC45 after it had strayed onto the course area, with no damage done and a little friendly banter exchanged.
“We went around the guy and he got a little confused and went forward, so we ended up alongside him,” explained skipper James Spithill afterwards. “I said ‘Put it in reverse mate,’ but he didn’t have reverse!”
By the time Oracle Racing Spithill was up and running again, the Kiwis were long gone and their team mates on Oracle Racing Coutts had edged ahead, with Artemis up to second place.
Emirates Team New Zealand’s two race wins on the day gave them the lead in the fleet racing, and Dean Barker did a fly-by for the crowds as he waved his appreciation to the people of Plymouth who had come to watch. Artemis Racing finished the day on equal points with Spithill in second.
Immediately afterwards the nine teams lined up for the AC500 Speed Trial, and Russell Coutts and his experienced crew showed the younger teams how to get maximum speed out of an AC45 in a straight line. Starting expertly and Coutts scored a time of 39.69 seconds, with a top average speed of 24.49 knots, 1.48 seconds faster than second-placed Emirates Team New Zealand.
Start time for Sunday’s fleet race has been moved up to 1300 local time (GMT+1).
|1||Emirates Team New Zealand||Dean Barker||1||10||3||8||1||10||28|
|2||Artemis Racing||Terry Hutchinson||3||8||2||9||2||9||26|
|3||ORACLE Racing Spithill||James Spithill||2||9||1||10||4||7||26|
|5||China Team||Charlie Ogletree||6||5||5||6||6||5||16|
|6||ORACLE Racing Coutts||Russell Coutts||OCS||0||4||7||3||8||15|
|7||Energy Team||Loick Peyron||8||3||6||5||7||4||12|
|8||Team Korea||Chris Draper||5||6||DNF||3||8||3||12|
|9||Green Comm Racing||Vasilij Zbogar||7||4||8||3||9||3||10|
Plymouth AC500 Speed Trials
|1||ORACLE Racing Coutts||24.49|
|2||Emirates Team New Zealand||23.61|
|4||ORACLE Racing Spithill||23.38|
|7||Green Comm Racing||21.99|
From Rick Tomlinson/www.ricktomlinson.com
Photos from Mark Lloyd/www.lloydimages.com