by Tim Jeffery
America's Cup World Series Plymouth - Skipper Russell Coutts and crew bounced back strongly to win the first race despite being saddled with two penalties in the pre-start, one for crossing outside of the course boundary and another for a gentle nudge/collision with Dean Barker’s boat.
Americas’s Cup World Series Plymouth: ORACLE Racing - Racing Day 4 - Match Racing
'Dean said it was a love-tap. Well, I can tell you it wasn't a love tap!' said Coutts when the skippers exchanged post-race banter. 'We lost a bit of control. The wing probably shifted and backed the jib. We flopped onto port (tack) and we were … going to hit them.'
Once again the combination of AC45 wing sailed catamarans and good Plymouth breezes produced top-grade racing. Coutts and crew were able to close up to a seven second deficit at the second leeward mark and then overtake on the next upwind leg. In fact, all three races were classic match racing, with the leader staying between the trailing boat and the next mark, except played out at high speed, with rapid-fire decision making and relentless crew work.
After taking a 1-0 lead Oracle Racing Coutts looked poised to win the match when they led Race 2, but this time Team New Zealand had the advantage upwind and made a passing move on the first upwind leg.
The Kiwi crew would hold on for the win and came from behind a second time to take the third race to win the match. The loss sends Oracle Racing Coutts to the consolation match for third and fourth place, which will be sailed tomorrow afternoon.
'We had our moments, just didn’t put it together,' said Coutts. 'We made some key decisions that were wrong. I got that one wrong when we were leading; we probably should’ve won that race. 'Team New Zealand sailed well and deserved the win, credit to them,' Coutts said.
Earlier in the day, the combination of a faulty sheet jammer and wrong angle into the leeward mark saw the Oracle Racing Spithill crew loose to Team Korea, which won qualifier match number four and eventually advanced to the semifinal round and a pairing with Artemis Racing.
Jimmy Spithill’s crew rounded the second windward mark approximately 14 seconds behind Team Korea, but the jib sheet jammer locked shut and the headsail wasn’t released. A puff of wind hit the AC45, heeling it hard over.
'We couldn’t let the sheet out and couldn’t get the bow down,' said Spithill. 'We had to bail out, almost lost it there.'
For Team Korea the win was the second consecutive over an Oracle Racing crew in as they defeated Oracle Racing Coutts in the quarterfinal round of ACWS Cascais.
'They’ve caused Oracle Racing a few problems now,' Spithill said. 'All credit to them. They sailed better than did.
Oracle Racing Spithill will sail tomorrow against Energy Team of France in the pairing for fifth and sixth place.
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