America's Cup World Series- Viewed from the Water - Match Racing Final

America’s Cup World Series - Day 6, 17 September 2011

Sail-World's Ben Gladwell was on the water for the final day of the Match Racing at the second round of the America's Cup World Series. Here's his view of how the racing unfolded:

The final day of match racing of the Americas Cup World Series event in Plymouth took place within the confines of the sea wall that guards the harbour at Plymouth

The first races of the day were the second semi-final with Artemis Racing pitted against Team Korea. Artemis led the first race until the final top mark when they misjudged their layline and were forced to complete two more tacks to get around the mark, allowing Korea to slip ahead of them.

Race two saw Artemis Racing enter the start box too early, earning themselves a penalty. Once again they lost ground on the upwind and Korea were able to get ahead and hold on to the finish. This saw Team Korea advance to the finals to race Emirates Team New Zealand later in the afternoon.

The play-off for seventh and eighth between Green Comm Racing and China team was over extremely quickly. Green Comm were early at the start and didn’t turn back until they were at the first mark, some two or three hundred meters from the start line. From here they had to beat a hasty retreat to dip the start line again and were then faced with the impossible task of chasing down China Team who only had to complete the course with no major dramas to finish victorious.

IMG 0872 - America's Cup World Series - Day 6, 17 September 2011

The fifth and sixth final took place between Oracle Racing Spithill and Energy Team. It was clear from the outset that Spithill reaped the benefit of his wealth of experience in the boat as he outclassed Energy Team to win by a comfortable margin.

The contest for third place was set to take place between Oracle Racing Coutts and the loser of the semi-final sailed earlier in the day, Artemis Racing.

The boats were relatively evenly pegged as they made their way along the reach to the first mark. However, Coutts had a very slow gybe which allowed Artemis to make some gains. They managed to claw back some of the ground lost throughout the middle part of the race but over aggressive gybing towards the end, resulting in the gennaker not being furled properly slowed their progress and allowed Artemis to hang on.

The final of the match racing event was sailed between Emirates Team New Zealand and the winner of the earlier semi-final, Team Korea. ETNZ won the start of the first race and were able to bank some height on the short reaching first leg and so were able to set their genaker early and put some distance between themselves and Team Korea who had a poor gybe at the mark and took some time to re-set their genaker.

ETNZ were able to extend from there to the finish. Leaving Team Korea needing to win the next two races to win the series. The second race of the final saw ETNZ absolutely dominate in the pre-start and crossed the line comfortably in front of their rivals. Slick crew work saw ETNZ hold their advantage all the way to the finish line and take the series win.

IMG 0917 - Etchells Worlds 2012

While the racing between these two teams was relatively one sided, it was by far the most enjoyable to watch. Most of the other teams had looked to steer clear of each other in the pre-start, seemingly more concerned with getting across the line with pace and a clear lane than tangling with their opposition to force a penalty or gain a more favorable position on the start line.

Contact between most of the crews when out on the course was negligible as well, with most teams seemingly content to drag-race as opposed to match-race.

The lack of normal pre-start jostling and jockeying for position, one of the hallmarks of match-racing, is also missing. A big part of why many people enjoy match racing may have been removed a result of some curious deviations from conventional match racing by the race organisers. A couple of examples being changing the time of entry to the start box to two minutes from the start, instead of five. And having the first leg as a short reach instead of an upwind.

The regatta will conclude with the Fleet Racing Final on Sunday.