Emirates Team NZ wins Preliminary Round at Plymouth

Emirates Team New Zealand in the speed runs in front of the Hoe at Plymouth. America’s Cup World Series preliminaries day two. 11/9/2011

Emirates Team New Zealand has won the 'preliminaries' of the America’s Cup World Series regatta at Plymouth.

Finishing second in today’s long-course fleet race, Dean Barker, James Dagg, Winston Macfarlane, Glen Ashby and Ray Davies earned 37 of a possible 40 points from the four races held at the weekend.

Oracle 4 was second with 36 points and Artemis Racing third on 29.

But the results seemed almost irrelevant. The day will be remembered for the three yachts that capsized and Artemis retiring with gear damage. No one was hurt when first Aleph, then Team Korea and finally GreenComm Racing went over.

The teams raced today in winds gusting above 25 knots, stronger than any breeze they had previously encountered on the ACWS circuit.

The racing was certainly fast and exciting. The large spectator crowd on the high ground around the Plymouth got what they came for. Fast action, close encounters, lead changes and the sense that crews were not giving an inch.

The fleet race was followed by another round of time trials. Two timed runs were scheduled for each team over the 500m course. But with four yachts back at the dock and Oracle 4 not completing the runs, there were only four contenders.

Oracle 5, with a timed run of 48km/h was fastest yacht today, with Emirates Team New Zealand on 47.36km/h second.

The wind is expected to build again tonight. Teams take a scheduled two-day break from racing and the regatta restarts on Wednesday with three fleet races.

Quotes from skipper Dean Barker:

On the conditions today

'It was tough out there today and the conditions were very much top end racing for these boats. The combination of breeze and seaway made for some very exciting, very close and very challenging racing – it’s what these boats are all about.'

On the close encounter with Artemis

At the end of the first upwind leg we were third around the bottom mark behind Artemis and Oracle 4. We quickly passed Oracle and as we closed in on Artemis they tried to tack to protect their lead. We managed to reach through them however and get in a strong position. Artemis then misjudged their position and ended up hitting our stern - it was quite an odd collision but luckily we came out of it relatively unscathed with just a minor ding in the boat.

Impression of the regatta so far

'The format with the preliminary regatta is different, but for us it’s all about developing the sailing team and building our multihull understanding, so any racing is good racing. While these races don’t count for a huge amount from a points perspective it’s still really valuable to be able to go out and push ourselves hard in these kind of conditions which are very similar to what we are likely to encounter in San Francisco – the more racing we can do the better.'

Heading into Wednesday

Overall, we’re feeling pretty happy going into the business end of the regatta and have learnt a lot over the last few days. Still we made mistakes out there today so our focus is on lifting our game and ensuring that we don’t repeat them again come Wednesday.

Leader board after weekend fleet races

1 Emirates Team New Zealand, 37 points
2 Oracle Racing 4, 36 points
3 Artemis Racing 2, 9 points
4 Oracle Racing 5, 26 points
5 China Team, 22 points
6 Aleph, 20 points
7 Energy Team 19 points
8 Team Korea, 17 points
9 Green Comm Racing, 13 points

Time trial scoreboard

1 Oracle Racing 5, 48km/h
2 Emirates Team New Zealand, 47.36km/h
3 China Team, 44.12km/h
4 Energy Team, 34.34km/h