by Bob Fisher
Defender Internal Racing
Oracle Team USA put both its AC-72s out on the race course a couple of hours before the first race of the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Ben Ainslie was at the wheel of the original boat while Jimmy Spithill steered the newer one.
No one will ever know just what information can be gathered from this in-house match, but if the two skippers were equally determined to succeed, it can be deduced that much of the secret for success, as in all match races, over these five-leg courses (that will be used in the America’s Cup), the start is of paramount importance.
Both skippers are previous winners of the World Match Racing Championship, but appeared initially reserved in the two-minute pre-start period, at least until there were only 40 seconds left. It was then that Spithill drove to leeward of Ainslie and 'hooked' him. With less than ten seconds to go, Spithill bore away and hit the line at full speed with Ainslie trailing in his wake.
Spithill led by more than thirty seconds at the downwind gate and headed offshore towards Alcatraz Island, while Ainslie went the other way to wards the City Front. When both tacked, the graphics showed that Ainslie had gained sufficiently to lead marginally.
At the windward gate, Spithill was in front, but only by eight seconds and the downwind battle began again. At the final tuning mark, the newer boat was 38 seconds in front and held most of that on the reach to the finish.
16/08/2013 - San Francisco (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - Defender Internal Racing