by Dean Barker
Emirates Team New Zealand sail against Team Korea in the finals of the match racing stage of the America’s Cup World Series in Plymouth. 17/9/2011
Dean Barker, Emirates Team NZ skipper and Director of www.kiwiyachting.co.nz!Kiwi_Yachting_Consultants_Nexus_AB, reports from Plymouth, England from the America's Cup World Series, in which he is helms Emirates Team NZ .
Seeding races done
Today was the final day of the seeding races for the match race event starting tomorrow. We had a repeat of yesterday with a 40 minute race followed up with two 20 minute races.
Race one and we had a great battle with Artemis all the way around the track finishing 2nd to them by around a boat length in a very close race.
Race 2 was a tough race and after a bad start we managed to work our way back through the fleet to record another 2nd.
The final race was a little disappointing after leading around the first gate but choosing the wrong mark and dropping back to 5th. We managed to claw back one place to finish 4th in the race and 2nd overall in the match race seedings behind Artemis.
There is a very complicated format on how the match racing works from here and I will not even start to try and explain how things work. You would need a degree to do that! By qualifying in 2nd place we race 3rd in a best of 3 semi at the end of the day tomorrow. Places 4 to 9 race off in an elimination style event to determine who races Artemis in their best of three semi on Saturday morning.
So tomorrow puts us up against Oracle Coutts in the semi which should provide for some interesting racing.
Match Race Finals in Plymouth
Today we raced the first semi final against Russell Coutts and his Oracle Team. We had a best of three semi in a challenging 14-20 knot breeze.
With a very tight course we sailed a three lap race which proved to be very tough on the crews. The boat handling aspect of these boats is very tough and you finish every race with the guys in complete exhaustion.
The first race we came off the line with Oracle having two penalties. One for going outside the course boundary, the second for a port tack collision with us when they lost control in the pre start. We seem to be a magnet for their boat as this is the 2nd collision we have now had with them on the same hull! We had a good lead for much of the first half of the race but did not do a great job of controlling the race allowing them to close in and then pass us on the 2nd lap. We tried to wear them down but they sailed well for the first win.
The next race I did a bad job around the start line and we trailed at the first mark. The guys did nice work around the first lap to et us back in front and we extended for a good win.
The deciding race was a nice start to finish win meaning we go through to race in the best of three final tomorrow. Our opponent will be either Artemis or Team Korea as they race their semi first up when racing starts at 2pm local time.
It is nice to be in the final again following on from Cascais. It would be even better to improve on our result there!
Match Race Champions in Plymouth
We raced the final of the Match Race section of the ACWS event here in Plymouth today. We came up against Team Korea who had earlier dispatched Artemis 2 nil in their best of 3 semi. We knew we would be in for some tough racing.
We managed to win the final 2 nil although both matches were very close all the way around the track. In the multis no lead is ever safe and even though we were controlling both races, it was hard to ever get to the point of a comfortable lead.
It was very satisfying to win the Match Race event here after losing in Cascais. To sail well in the finals is always a challenge and it felt like we did that today.
Tomorrow is the winner take all final of the fleet race. One 40 minute race to determine the Fleet Race Champion of Plymouth. The forecast is for really strong breeze so should be exciting. Still not a big fan of the format for the winner takes all, but that's the rules!
Super Sunday in Plymouth
Today was Super Sunday or in other words the winner take all fleet race to determine the Fleet Race Champion of Plymouth.
The fleet was greeted with a strong and very puffy breeze which resulted in many thrills, spills and collisions. Before we had even started there was a capsize, and in the final run up to the start two or three major collisions resulting in a lot of damage before the fleet had even got away.
We managed to stay clear of all the excitement and were neck and neck with both Oracle boats off the line. We had a great tussle all the way around the track in full on sailing conditions and managed to finish in 2nd. It would have been nice to win but I have been very pleased with the way we sailed here this week.
Reflecting on our win in the preliminaries last week, our second in the Match Race seeding regatta, winning the Match Race Championship of Plymouth, and then second in the Fleet Race today it has been a very solid week. It also serves us a reminder that there is still plenty for us to learn in the next two years leading up to to San Fran in 2013.
I am off to a Nexus Board Meeting in Southampton tomorrow so will be good to see the progress there.
All from Plymouth
To read earlier editions of Dean Barker's blog http://www.kiwiyachting.co.nz/dean-barkers-blog!click_here