Carlo Borlenghi / Luna Rossa /

Another point for Emirates Team New Zealand

As Oracle Team USA plays its 'postponement' card for race six of the 34th America's Cup

Tuesday September 10th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States

The 35th America's Cup looks increasingly likely that it is going to be held in Auckland as today, Emirates Team New Zealand once again roundly beat the defender Oracle Team USA in race five, taking the score to 4 to -1, the Kiwis now five points away from victory.

Oracle Team USA was found wanting in today's first race to the extent that it caused the defender to play its 'postponement card'. With two race days, both teams are allowed to play one of these, the idea being that if a team suffers a technical failure in the first race of the day then it only means they lose one point rather than two. However Oracle Team USA's decision to ask for the postponement does not appear to be due to breakage but a lack of speed and technique, particularly upwind.

As Team Oracle USA skipper James Spithill explained shortly after the announcement: "They [ETNZ] have a bit of an edge on us, especially upwind. We are going to do a bit of work here and hope we improve before the next race. It wasn't just upwind. There were a couple of mistakes there too, but tacking is something we have to address. We need to up our game. We need to step up for the next one."

Race 6 is therefore postponed until Thursday.

On board Emirates Team New Zealand today were Helmsman/skipper Dean Barker, Tactician: Ray Davies, Wing Trimmer: Glenn Ashby, Trimmer: James Dagg, Bow: Adam Beashel, Pit: Jeremy Lomas, Pedestal 1: Chris Ward, Pedestal 2: Rob Waddell, Pedestal 3: Grant Dalton, Pedestal 4: Chris McAsey, Float/Grinder: Derek Saward.

In today's race Oracle Team looked good in the start. They led back to the line in the windward position and for the first time Emirates Team New Zealand started to leeward. Coming into the line Barker halfheartedly went to hook Oracle Team USA as both boats nosed up into the wind to kill speed. However both crews are improving their time on distance to the start line, and both today crossed evenly with Emirates Team New Zealand performing a better speed build, but Oracle Team USA's slightly superior reaching pace allowing her to roll past and get to the first mark ahead. 

With the wind having gone left, the 'run' was heavily starboard gybe favoured and the Kiwis trailed Oracle Team USA into San Francisco Bay , the defenders covering well. However Oracle Team USA's race unravelled at the leeward gate where she rounded the port gate mark, coming into on starboard gybe and immediately tacking to make optimum use of the tidal relief to leeward of Alcatraz Island. This sudden 180° manoeuvre killed Oracle Team USA's speed, as Emirates Team New Zealand followed them into the mark and simply hardened up leaving the tack until later. On the beat Oracle Team USA never seemed to get back in the groove and when the two boats crossed, Emirates Team New Zealand had caught up having to duck the defenders. On the next cross with the Kiwis holding the starboard advantage, they crossed ahead and then extended and extended up the beat, sailing faster (around 25-26 knots) and tacking fast with less speed loss. The end result was the Kiwis turning an 8 second deficit at the leeward gate into a top mark rounding 1:17 ahead. 

While the Louis Vuitton Cup may have been a case of the boat reaching mark 1 leading. In the America's Cup it is the boat that rounds the weather mark and so Emirates Team New Zealand cruised home with more than a 1km advantage, finishing with a 1:05 delta. 

Dean Barker commented: "It is a tough way to win races, but its working for us! We'd have liked to have controlled our fate a little bit more on leg 1 - they manageed to get over us on the first reach and picked up some pressure around our bow. But it is encouraging that we were able to get back in the race like we did."

Barker explained that at the crucial leeward gate mark, they had been able to delay tacking because the zone of tidal relief behind Alcatraz was wide enough to allow them to do so. 

Spithill said he was unhappy with the size of jib they were using which was too big in the building breeze, but added that there was more at stake than just this. “We need to go back and regroup. We feel they have an edge on us at the moment, especially upwind. We need to do a bit of work here and we’re going to play the card, strategically, and hopefully improve in time for the next race.

“We can win these races, we just need to be very smart about the way we go about it. We also need to make sure we sail the boat well. We just have to go away and learn from it, that’s why we played the card. It was obvious we needed to really regroup and have a good look at the video. We’ll get out there tomorrow and work on a few areas of our game. We can beat these guys, we’ve shown we can.”

Racing resumes on Thursday with Races 6 and 7, the first scheduled for 1:15 pm PT (20:15 UTC, 21;15 BST). 

Any thoughts as to why Oracle Team USA is slower upwind?

More pics from Carlo Borlenghi/Luna Rossa/


Latest Comments

  • david_collins 11/09/2013 - 13:58

    Is Oracle quicker downwind? The delta at mark 2 was minimal, and at the approach to mark 4 ETNZ soaked down to avoid two gybes but still lost nothing on the leg.
  • 381394 11/09/2013 - 13:19

    What do we know? But from what I can make out, Oracle makes more leeway than the Kiwi's when foil borne, and more drag when the hull is immersed. I think the Kiwi's foils are sweeter. Oracle are quick off the wind where the lateral load on the foil is reduced and therefor not such a handicap in this mode. Knowing they are slow upwind is writ on every Oracle face for all to see.

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