by Tim Jeffery
In the America’s Cup World Series Plymouth, Oracle Racing Coutts has won the sixth and final seeding race. The victory put the four-time America’s Cup champion Russell Coutts and his crew through to Saturday’s semifinal round of the match racing championship where they’ll meet Emirates Team New Zealand.
America’s Cup World Series 2011 - ORACLE Racing - Racing Day 3
'We finally got a good start,' said Coutts. 'If you can get off the start line and around the first mark in good shape it makes a world of difference; you’re able to sail where you want on the racecourse and not in the back of the pack.'
Oracle Racing Spithill finished the seeding races in fifth place and will sail in tomorrow’s match racing qualifying rounds. As the number five seed, Oracle Racing Spithill is set to race the winner of the first qualifier match between Aleph (number eight seed) and Green Comm Racing (number nine seed).
Winds were the lightest yet at the Plymouth event, with courses laid right under the natural grandstand of The Hoe. Oracle Racing Spithill had a pair of thirds in the day’s first two races, but then false-started Race 3, the call made by race officials using the new America’s Cup precision tracking technology. Having to re-start put the crew on the back foot.
'We've still got to do a better job at getting back from an OCS,' Spithill said. 'There are a couple of teams good at it and obviously Russell did it in the first race. There's still a bit of work to do there.'
Oracle Racing Coutts had a decent start about mid-line. The crew got around the first reach mark just behind leader Emirates Team New Zealand and held a similar position through the leeward gate. But on the next upwind leg Oracle Racing Coutts got to the right of the Kiwi crew and rode a long starboard tack up the middle in nice pressure. They crossed Team New Zealand with about 100 meters to spare and went on to a solid win.
Tomorrow, the competition switches to knock-out match racing. As third seed Oracle Racing Coutts will square off against number two seed Emirates Team New Zealand in Semifinal Match One, scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. The winner will be the first to score two points and will advance to the ACWS Plymouth Match Racing Championship on Saturday afternoon.
'It’s been a while since I raced Team New Zealand,' said Coutts.
For Oracle Racing Spithill the task is simple: win and advance. As the number five seed the crew will have to win three qualifier matches for the right to advance to the semifinals, where the opponent would be number one seed Artemis Racing. 'There’s plenty more racing before we can make the semifinal, which is what we need. We’re not sailing that great,' Spithill said. 'That's life. We definitely have improved and will look for a better day tomorrow.'
ACWS Plymouth Fleet Race Seeding
(Results after six seeding races)
1. Artemis Racing (SWE) – 56 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) – 50
3. ORACLE Racing Coutts/Russell Coutts (USA) – 42
4. Energy Team (FRA) – 39
5. ORACLE Racing Spithill/James Spithill (USA) – 38
6. Team Korea (KOR) – 37
7. China Team (CHN) – 23
8. Aleph (FRA) – 23
9. Green Comm (ESP) – 19
America's Cup website