Guilain Grenier / Oracle Team USA

Spithill ahead as Coutts T-bones committee boat

Another day of dramatic racing in the America's Cup World Series in San Francisco

Friday August 24th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States

Oracle Team USA Coutts crash in spectacular fashion at the America’s Cup World Series races today, hitting the Race Committee boat at speed during the start of fleet race three.

The veteran had been trying to squeeze into a narrow gap between the start boat and his stablemate, Oracle Team USA Spithill. A gap wasn't big enough, resulting in Coutts' AC45 T-boning the Race Committee boat.

“I thought there might be a gap there, and there wasn’t,” said Coutts. “It was a tough break. I didn’t think it was that risky. I thought they were going to turn down and start the race and they just kept turning up and shut the door."

As to the damage and repairwork, Coutts added: “The front foot of the hull has to be replaced and there’s a few other bits of rigging that got damaged. The problem with a collision like that is you don’t know what other stress has been put on the boat. So, the boat builders are looking at it.”

Spithill gave his take on what happened: “We didn’t see them, and we thought we’d be locked out by the French team. Right at the last second, they opened the door and we had to hold up or we would have been early. Then with about 3 to go, we look up and hear this bang. It’s a real shame.”

The top performer on the day was Nathan Outteridge and his Team Korea crew. In the first race, Outteridge battled Paul Campbell-James and his Luna Rossa Swordfish crew for the lead before two penalties dropped the Koreans back to fourth place. In the meantime, the Italian Piranha crew grabbed second place and Yann Guichard’s Energy Team sailed their best race to place third.

“It was a big day today," said Outteridge, the recently Olympic 49er gold medalist. "There was a bit of breeze and we were usually at the front of the fleet, which is great for us.A fourth and second, you’re going to take that any day. Consistency is the key for the first three days and then on the last day you’ve got to send it pretty hard.”

In the day’s second fleet race, Emirates Team New Zealand was able to power off the starting line to lead into the first mark but on the second upwind leg, Oracle Team USA Spithill, having fought back from an OCS, impressively pushed into the lead to win the race. Outteridge again performed well, stealing second place from the Kiwis on the final sprint to the finish. Ben Ainslie had his best result of the fleet races, taking fourth place.

“JK (John Kostecki, tactician) has spent a lot of hours on this Bay,” said Spithill. “I don’t think anyone can know the Bay completely, but it certainly helps for him having spent a lot of hours out there. It was incredible racing. It feels like you’re in a stadium and I think that’s what we’ve created here. We appreciate the support and are looking forward to an even bigger turnout over the weekend.”

The results leave Spithill at the head of fleet, with Outteridge and Team Korea vaulting into second place. Coutts, after a strong opening day in the fleet races, tumbles down the leaderboard to 10th place, after he was unable to complete today's two races..

The afternoon started with the final two pairs of the match racing quarterfinals, and following the first match J.P. Morgan BAR skipper Ainslie apologised to his crew after mistiming the start. The British Olympic legend found himself having to start downtide at the start allowing Emirates Team New Zealand to romp to an easy win and advance to the semifinals. “Sorry about the start guys, still getting used to it,” Ainslie said when he crossed the finish line, still finding his feet on the AC45 circuit.

The second match was closer. Coutts won the start and led for much of the first lap. But Energy Team’s Yann Guichard found favorable conditions offshore to cross ahead early on the upwind leg. Coutts then regained the lead and aggressively covered his French opponent, protecting a narrow advantage to the finish line.

Coverage of the racing (21:00 UTC start time tomorrow and 18:30 UTC on Sunday) will be broadcast live around the world on the America’s Cup YouTube channel (subject to territorial broadcast restrictions).

AC World Series San Francisco – Match Racing Quarterfinals Results
Emirates Team New Zealand beat J.P. Morgan BAR, 1-0
ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS beat Energy Team, 1-0

Match Racing Leaderboard (First to fourth still to be determined)
5. Energy Team
6. Luna Rossa Piranha
7. Luna Rossa Swordfish
8. J.P. Morgan BAR
9. Team Korea
10. China Team
11. Artemis Racing Red

Fleet racing results:

Pos Team Helm R1 R2 R3 R4 Tot
1 Oracle Team USA Spithill James Spithill 2 1 7 1 39
2 Team Korea Nathan Outteridge 7 4 4 2 31
3 Luna Rossa Piranha Chris Draper 3 8 2 5 30
3 Energy Team Yann Guichard 4 7 3 7 27
3 Artemis Racing White Terry Hutchinson 5 3 6 9 25
3 Artemis Racing Red Santi Lange 6 2 8 8 24
3 Emirates Team New Zealand Dean Barker 8 9 5 3 23
3 Luna Rossa Swordfish Paul Campbell-James 9 10 1 6 23
3 J.P. Morgan BAR Ben Ainslie 10 5 9 4 20
3 Oracle Team USA Coutts Russell Coutts 1 6 DNF DNS 18
3 China Team Phil Robertson 11 11 10 10 6


Photos from Guilain Grenier/Oracle Team USA

 More of the Coutts v Committee boat collision from Christophe Favreau/

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