by Dean Barker
Emirates Team New Zealand sail their first final match race against Oracle Racing on day six of the America’s Cup World Series, Cascais, Portugal. 13/8/2011
Dean Barker, Emirates Team NZ skipper and Director of www.kiwiyachting.co.nz!Kiwi_Yachting_Consultants_Nexus_AB, reports from Cascais ahead of the start of the America's Cup World Series, in which he is helming Emirates Team NZ .
13 August 2011:
Today we had our final day of the three fleet races and one match race to confirm the seeding for the Match Race day on Saturday.
The fleet races belonged to Oracle 4 who won all three races. We had a good day with a 3,3,2 which should have been much better. We had three bottom mark roundings in a row where we just did not get a good furl on the gennaker which results in the sail flogging itself open as you try and go upwind and slowing the boat considerably as you try and drop it. The issues compound as you can then not hoist the sail again until after you get around the top mark losing precious time for the first part of the run.
We ended up racing Oracle 4 in the match race sail off to decide the position for the day. It was a fantastic race with many lead changes and a close race all the way round the course. We took the lead for the final time before the first top mark and held it to the finish to secure our third straight win overall.
Tomorrow we will race either Oracle 5 or Team Korea dependent on the result of their sudden death 1/4 final. We will then have a sudden death race in the semi to determine who will race in the best of 3 final.
Day 4 of Racing
I am sure for people following this new AC World Series regatta the format is very difficult to understand. I can assure you that it is hard for us to understand also!
The event organisers in doing their deal for each host venue specify the event will run over two weekends so that the host can generate more return on their investment in holding one of these events. However the format of the racing does not really mirror this commitment of time and it leads to a strange scoring system.
On the first weekend of racing we did three 20 minute fleet races on the Saturday which was scored as a mini regatta. We had a good day with a 4,2,2 to win the day. Sunday was a single 40 minute (long race) followed by a 500m speed trial. The 40 minute fleet race was a dress rehearsal for this coming Sunday mirroring what we will do and providing a back up if this coming Sunday's racing was unable to be sailed due to weather conditions. We had a good lead in this race until rounding the top mark the final time, Winston lost balance and fell over the side. The rules do not require the person to be picked up so we continued racing with only four on board. Down wind it did not have a big effect, but the final upwind we were 1 - 1.5 knots slower than the other boats with our reduced righting moment. We just couldn't quite hold off Oracle 5 who passed us in the final 500m to the finish. We were still happy with the 2nd place given the situation.
we then rolled into the speed trials which was a fairly novel thing for us. It is a reaching course of 500m and you get 3 speed runs to set the fastest average speed for the run. We were sailing in an offshore wind so there was a degree of good fortune required to be able to start in good pressure to maximise your chance of a good run. On our final run of the day we picked up good pressure and recorded the top average speed of just over 42km/h. All in all the weekend was really good for us but none of these results count for anything except really more race practice.
Racing started again proper on Wednesday with the same format repeated for the first 3 days. It is three 20 min fleet races with the the top 6 boats for the day racing off in a match race for their final position (eg 1v2, 3v4, 5v6). each of the three days you are scored a result for the day and after 3 days the top 6 boats advance to the match race finals on Saturday. 1 and 2 go straight to the semis while 3v6 and 4v5 in a sudden death quarters. The winners of those matches race 1 and 2 in a sudden death semi, and the winners of those race off in a best of 3 final.
Then to finish off the regatta there is a one race 40 minute fleet race on the Sunday - winner takes all! It is a tough format as nothing counts going into that one race. You could have had a shocking week yet pull one out of the bag on the final day which certainly keeps things interesting.
So far we have had two days of the three fleet races and the match race and have managed to win both days which has been very satisfying. On Wednesday we raced Oracle 4 in the matchrace and had a good win there after swapping the lead a few times. Yesterday we had a nice win over Artemis to finish off another good day on the water.
Things have been going well for us over the last 10 days here in Portugal and it is satisfying to know we are making some good progress. However the more you do you realise how much more there is to do and how much better you can become.
All for now
To read earlier editions of Dean Barker's blog http://www.kiwiyachting.co.nz/dean-barkers-blog!click_here