Please select your home edition
Edition
Safety at Sea - Baltic - 2

Gladwell's Line- A Crucial Race

by . on 17 Sep 2013
Oracle Team USA puts on a show her fans at the end of Race 9 © Richard Gladwell www.richardgladwell.com
The final race for today was a break-point for the 34th America’s Cup.

Had Oracle Team USA been able to pull off a second victory for the day, giving herself a hat-trick of wins from the past two days – then she would have gone into the one-day break feeling very satisfied.

The Defender would have knocked a huge hole in the Kiwi machine, which looked unstoppable at the start of the Regatta.

For New Zealand the point was crucial – leaving the Challenger with just two more to score to win the America’s Cup for a third time.

With so much hanging on the win, it was fitting that it was a closely fought affair – and a match racing spectacle the likes of which had never been seen before.

The highpoint of the race came as the two AC72’s neared the windward mark and it became clear that Oracle Team USA had bitten a massive chunk out of the New Zealander’s lead, and in fact the lead swapped several times.

But in a brilliant piece of sailing strategy, Emirates Team New Zealand spent some of their lead on the windward leg to buy a big advantage heading down the final run, on Leg 4.

Their investment paid a huge dividend, as they were able to round the northern Mark 3, and emerge from the rounding at a faster pace and sailing on starboard, with the right of way at the next encounter.

That came a few hundred metres down the run as Oracle Team USA came across on port, and had the choice of gybing and going with the flying Kiwis, or crossing astern and then having the starboard advantage at the next cross.

They elected to take the latter option, slowing the boat to allow the New Zealanders through. But applying the brakes on a speeding AC72 has not really been done before – and too much speed was dropped off, allowing the New Zealanders to quickly grab a bigger lead, which they held to the end of the exciting race.

There is no doubt that the Oracle Team USA afterguard is a much better unit with the addition of Ben Ainslie. The team has also been able to use the time they bought by playing their Lay Day card, after a thumping from the New Zealanders, when they notched their sixth win. Oracle have been able to bolster their weak points to the extent that there is not a lot between the boats in terms of basic speed.

One gets the impression that the New Zealanders still have the upper hand in terms of time on the water. And the thinking on board the Kiwi boat is generally better than that of the Defender.

But in the past two days New Zealand has been put under real pressure, sometimes they have been able to come up with the answers, sometimes not.

In the first two wins scored by Oracle Team USA, the Challengers pointed out that the first was the result of two muffed tacks by the Challenger, and the second was the same – when the AC72 almost capsized in a tack.


But there was no such excuse in Oracle Team USA’s Race 9 win – which came from being able to exploit their port entry right to the starting box, defending the eastern side of the box, and using the ebb (outgoing) tide to push up against the Challenger. Spithill pulled a masterful tactic at the start of luffing after the starting signal, causing Barker to drop speed, then Spithill picked his moment to accelerate and build a lead at the first mark which he was able to extend to 800 metres over the rest of the race.

The change in tide has certainly worked Oracle Team USA’s way, allowing her more time to plan her moves, using the full width of the race area, instead of being pinned into sailing in a smaller area of water to avoid adverse tide.

That allows her to tack in her own time, and we are not seeing the same damage that Emirates Team NZ was able to inflict in a tight tacking situation, and using her self-tacking jib to maximum effect.

Once again, as we saw at the top mark this afternoon, Emirates Team NZ does seem to enjoy a small advantage in tight combat – possibly because tactician Ray Davies can have his head up – without grinding duties – and has those few seconds to think of the longer term plays.


Certainly Ray Davies’ calls have been a feature of the regatta, and may well prove to be the winning of it.

After today, Emirates Team NZ needs two wins to take the Regatta. Oracle requires another eight – which looks to be a difficult task in boats that are evenly matched.

For sure this has been a Match Racing regatta like the sailing world has never before seen – and may never do so again.

And for many the sheer spectacle of seeing two AC72’s foiling downwind in white water is more memorable than the actual outcome of the Match itself.

There is no doubt that this regatta has delivered some brilliant and sublime racing – that can only be marveled, and appreciated by all who follow our great sport.

While Larry Ellison was on the water to enjoy his team's success in the first race of the day. He must have also taken a special pleasure in knowing that his dream of which he spoke of so eloquently back in 2010 had come true - and made such a massive impact on sailing - which will never be the same again.









Hood Sailsupffront 660x82Zhik ZKG 660x82

Related Articles

Gladwell's Line - Does the America's Cup really need a Star Chamber?
The first meeting of the three-man America's Cup Arbitration Panel is believed to have taken place in London The first meeting of the three-man America's Cup Arbitration Panel is believed to have taken place in London in the past week or so. Officially the date hasn't been publicly announced. The venue hasn't been publicly named, and the parties have appeared before a Panel that is publicly nameless.
Posted on 23 Jul
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on Emirates Team NZ's road to Bermuda
Part 2 of the interview with Emirates Team NZ skipper Glenn Ashby. In this part of the interview we look at what is going to happen once Emirates Team NZ get their 'AC49.5' sailing in Auckland, and how the campaign may shape up before they leave for Bermuda. Ashby wouldn’t be drawn on whether Team New Zealand had started their AC50 build, with July being the usual start of what is usually a five-month build and commissioning period for an end of December launch.
Posted on 10 Jul
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on Emirates Team NZ's new AC49.5
Sail-World talks with Emirates Team NZ skipper, Glenn Ashby on what is different about the team's new test boat Just under 11 months out from the 35th America’s Cup, Team New Zealand does not seem to be in its customary place at the front of the starting grid to be the first to launch their Challenger, or are they? Although they will be one of the last of the six teams to launch an AC45 Surrogate, Emirates Team New Zealand may have stolen a march with a boat that is as close as you can get to an AC50.
Posted on 9 Jul
Gladwell's Line - Emirates Team NZ launches shadow AC50
Emirates Team NZ took a late but significant step along the road to the 35th America's Cup, with the launch of their AC4 Emirates Team NZ took a late but significant step along the road to the 35th America's Cup, with the launch of their AC45S - as the test boats are called in the Protocol which governs the 2017 event. The bloated Protocol, which now runs to 83 pages of legalese, is restrictive on the size of boat that can be built as a test platform but doesn't restrict the number that can be built.
Posted on 22 Jun
Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous
Reports in social media say a salvage tug has made a rendezvous with the Platino earlier than expected. Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made the rendezvous earlier than expected. The Facebook report says the tug, Sea Pelican, arrived on Friday morning, the weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook.
Posted on 16 Jun
Rio 2016 - Double Olympic medallist on the delights of Guanabara Bay
Olympic Gold and Bronze medallist Bruce Kendall updates on the 2016 Olympic venue at Guanabara Bay. Olympic Gold and Bronze medallist, and now a windsurfer coach, Bruce Kendall has made several trips to the 2016 Olympic venue at Guanabara Bay. He updates on the pollution issue which is clearly not going to be resolved in a couple of months, and also shares his views on the venue from a sailing competition perspective.
Posted on 14 Jun
America's Cup - Artemis win Chicago as Team Japan wins two races
Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series got three races away on Super Sunday. After losing the first official day of racing due to light winds and the non-arrival of the onshore breeze, Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series got three races away on Super Sunday. From a racing perspective this was probably the best day of racing yet in the series which counts for points in the Qualifying Series of the America's Cup in 11 months time.
Posted on 12 Jun
America's Cup - Emirates TNZ NZ and Oracle capsize in Chicago Practice
Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA capsized in Practice Racing at the Louis Vuitton ACWS Chicago There was action aplenty on Practice Day at Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Chicago, after Emirates Team New Zealand capsized in their match with Oracle Team USA, and then Oracle Team USA capsized later in the day. Team NZ's skipper skipper Glenn Ashby performed some impressive acrobatics ejecting from the AC45 capsize, without injury.
Posted on 11 Jun
America's Cup - Changes proposed to control future Cup options
Changes are being mooted to put the America's Cup on a longer-term footing according to the Daily Telegraph (UK) News that changes are being mooted to put the America's Cup on a longer-term footing is being floated in the Daily Telegraph (UK) by the British Challenger, Land Rover BAR. According to the Telegraph, some of the teams in the 2017 America's Cup are keen to lock-in parameters which would bind successive holders of the a style and frequency for the next America's Cup Match.
Posted on 8 Jun
America's Cup - AC50 construction uncovered - Part 2 - Wings and Costs
Second part of a two-part series looking at the AC50 construction progress at Core Builders Composites Second part of a two-part series looking at the construction progress at Core Builders Composites, and features of the AC50 class which will be used in the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda. Tim Smyth takes us on a tour of the CBC facility in Warkworth, and hour's drive north of Auckland. Where several AC50's, components and wingsails are under construction or have already been shipped to the teams.
Posted on 5 Jun