Fifth consecutive bullet
With every day that passes, Oracle Team USA looks stronger and stronger and so it was that today the defender of the 34th America's Cup put yet another point on the board, their fifth consecutive, taking the score lin to up 8-6 in Emirates Team New Zealand's favour. While Oracle Team USA is now three points from victory, the Kiwis of course continue to be at match point. A maximum of three races remains in the series, scheduled tomorrow and Wednesday.
Once again today Oracle Team USA got the better of Emirates Team New Zealand in the pre-start with the wind at around 10 knots. This was despite the Kiwis coming in with the port hand advantage - although this doesn't appear to be the advantage it once was. . Oracle basically came into the box gybed and stopped leaving the Kiwis behind them in the 'pushing' position. The Kiwis appeared to have done well getting the leeward berth, which has been Spithill's start-winning tactic, but the defender performed a better speed build and rolled past the Kiwis to weather of them and broke the overlap, to lead into the reaching mark with a five second advantage.
With conditions getting lighter the boats gybed on to their Code 0s on the run.
With the tide flooding, at the leeward gate, Oracle Team USA performed her normal manoeuvre of rounding the starboard hand mark and hardening up to gain the maximum tidal relief behind Alcatraz Island, while the Kiwis split around the port mark and tacked in the 'optimum spot' around 300m off to port. The race is now becoming something of a standard set of tactics in the flood tide with the boats 'short' tacking up the starboard boundary down tide of Alcatraz before transferring to the left side of the beat further up the course to get out of the tide there.
The Kiwis got close but never close enough with Oracle Team USA being relatively conservative in defending their lead. They rounded the starboard top mark as the Kiwis once again split and went for the port mark, 19 seconds behind. Oracle Team USA was quick to gybe back to cover maintaining a 'loose' down the run to claim their eighth victory (and sixth counter).
“We’ve got a huge wave of momentum. The boat’s just going fantastic,” said Spithill afterwards. “That was a tough start - we had starboard entry and it was a tough time.”
Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said their loss today was due to a top performance from the defender: “We’re very upbeat here, we know we can win. The Oracle guys sailed a pretty flawless race. There were no opportunities to get back in it. We did a better job on the downwind legs staying close, but not enough today.”
Of their start today, the Kiwi team's tactician Ray Davies said: “The plan was to start to leeward of Oracle and they did a nice job of getting us compressed to the leeward end. They jumped us pretty quickly, it was evident about 15 seconds after the start they were very strong. The outcome wasn’t ideal, but we were happy to have been to leeward of them, just needed it to be a little bit better shape than it ended up being.”
Spithill added of their start tactic today: “Philippe [Presti, coach] and I have been working hard at night trying to figure a couple of plays, and that was Philippe’s idea, it worked nicely."
Ben Ainslie added: “The AC72 is completely unique. On the downwind legs the boat ahead a lot of times has the advantage in terms of controlling the opposition and the bad air, and tacking with these boats is a lot harder to keep a cover if they do a good job splitting tacks. It’s very exciting.”
Due to the late start today waiting for the wind to settle, so only one race was held.