Strong start for Oracle Team USA
The home team, Oracle Team USA, put on a show for its fans in San Francisco on Thursday, grabbing the top two spots in the first race and leading the fleet racing standings at the AC World Series San Francisco at the end of the day two.
Conditions were good for racing, with winds in the 12-16 knot range and fans flocked down to the Marina Green to cheer on their favorite sailors. The race course boundary was just yards from the shoreline and the teams often came within spitting distance of the crowds as they pushed the boundary to find relief from the flood tide. What was spectacular for the fans also proved good for the sailors.
“This racing is awesome," said Artemis Racing’s Santiago Lange, a two-time Olympic bronze medalist in the Tornado class who is making his ACWS debut this week. " It’s the best I’ve ever done in any boat. I’m so happy to be here and it’s really what sailing should be about. I’m still getting used to steering while looking around to see the marks and the boundaries and all the lights, but this is really great racing.”
In the opening fleet race of the championship, Russell Coutts made the best start, accelerating powerfully a few moments before the start gun fired, hitting the line with pace and speeding past his rivals toan early lead he would hold to the finish. His stablemate Jimmy Spithill wasn’t far behind, putting the two American boats at the top of the table.
“The start of the first race was critical, it was great to lead the fleet around that first mark,” said Coutts. “But it was a tough racecourse… you had to keep eyes open and pick your lanes well.”
In the second race, the two youngest skippers in the fleet began to make their mark. On Youth Day at the AC World Series, China Team’s Phil Robertson and Team Korea’s Nathan Outteridge, were up among the leaders early in the race, with Robertson leading around the first mark before falling back into the fleet. Outteridge was challenging for the top spot as well until a penalty temporarily dropped him back. He would rally to finish fourth in the race, just ahead of the Ben Ainslie-steered J.P. Morgan BAR.
After placing second in the first race, Oracle Team USA’s Spithill put his stamp on the second contest, grabbing the lead from China Team at mark two and fighting off both Artemis Racing crews to hold on for the win and top spot at the end of the day.
“We had a bit of a battle with the Artemis boats, but the boys stretched us out there at the end,” said Spithill. “There’s a definite tide line up the course and the wind was difficult to read at the top end of the course. Our maneuvers were flawless. We’re very happy with today and are looking forward to tomorrow.”
Earlier, in the first set of sudden-death Match Racing Quarterfinal matches, both Luna Rossa crews were in tough pairings, scheduled against two of last season’s top teams. First, Swordfish (Paul Campbell-James) fell to the 2011-12 Match Racing champions, Terry Hutchinson and his Artemis Racing White crew in a race the Swedish team controlled from the start.
Then, Chris Draper’s Piranha team came up against the overall season title-holders in Oracle Team USA Spithill. The American team timed the start to perfection and protected its early lead well, fending off a mid-race attack from the Italians, to earn a spot in the semifinals.
Racing continues until Sunday (21:00 pm UTC start time on Friday and Saturday and 19:30 am UTC on Sunday) will be broadcast live on the America’s Cup YouTube channel (subject to territorial broadcast restrictions). The Super Sunday finale will be broadcast live, coast to coast, in the United States, on NBC from 11:30 am PDT.
AC World Series San Francisco – Race Day Two
Match Racing Quarterfinal – Results
Artemis Racing White beat Luna Rossa Swordfish, 1-0
Oracle Team USA Spithill beat Luna Rossa Piranha, 1-0
|1||Oracle Team USA Spithill||James Spithill (AUS)||2||1||22|
|2||Oracle Team USA Coutts||Russell Coutts (NZL)||1||6||18|
|3||Artemis Racing Red||Santi Lange (ARG)||6||2||16|
|4||Artemis Racing White||Terry Hutchinson (USA)||5||3||16|
|5||Team Korea||Nathan Outteridge (AUS)||7||4||13|
|6||Energy Team||Yann Guichard (FRA)||4||7||13|
|7||Luna Rossa Piranha||Chris Draper (GBR)||3||8||13|
|8||J.P. Morgan Bar||Ben Ainslie (GBR)||10||5||9|
|9||Emirates Team New Zealand||Dean Barker (NZL)||8||9||7|
|10||Luna Rossa Swordfish||Paul Campbell-James (GBR)||9||10||5|
|11||China Team||Phil Robertson (NZL)||11||11||2|
More photos from Carlo Borlenghi/Luna Rossa