by Bob Fisher
ORACLE Racing - America’s Cup World Series San Diego 2011
Bob Fisher, one of the worlds top international yachting journalists, and certainly the top writer on the America's Cup, is in San Diego for the Third round of the America's Cup World Series.
Bob is a multihuller from way back, having competed for Britain in the Little America's Cup and has been covering the America's Cup since 1967.
Dear Diary – Day 3 - America's Cup World Series - San Diego, California, USA
OK, the America’s Cup World Series has begun – last weekend was merely an event to tease the general public into seeing the boats in action, so it was time for me to get a fix – I did with a sixth-man seat with Jimmy Spithill and Oracle Racing 4 – and it was every bit as good, if not better than it was last time. There was a steady 12 knots of breeze and flat water – what more could a multihull junkie ask for?
Once more I was immediately aware of the physical demands to the five men who sail the boat (the sixth-man is not allowed to contribute in any way) and was glad that I was not one of them. I focussed on Joey Newton as he dealt with the masthead gennaker. Hauling it all the way, without the aid of a winch until the last few inches to get the correct tension, Joey was giving it his all. No sooner was it hoisted, fully rolled up, that it was unfurled as Oracle Racing 4 rounded the windward gate and began the downwind leg.
Joey trimmed the sheet and flopped (for want of a better word) onto the weather deck, his feet finding the hiking straps, but only momentarily as the call came for a gybe. We were hitting close to 20 knots and the gennaker had to be part furled through the gybe – Joey again. That man is never at rest for more than two seconds at a time – neither, I noticed, was anyone else.
It was an insight into the improvements this team has made, although today, in each of the other two races when I wasn’t on board, Oracle Racing 4 was penalised for premature starting. For that, the boat has to be slowed and go to the back of the nine-boat fleet and then the crew has to dig deep into its bodies and brains to become competitive again. That Jimmy and the boys did to a fifth and a second speaks volumes for them.
But the team of the day was French – the Energy Team skippered by Yann Guichard, which added a third race win to the third and fifth scored earlier to beat Emirates Team New Zealand (2-3-5) by a single point. The pair of them join third placed Oracle Racing 4 (5-4-2) for a day off racing on Thursday while the fourth to ninth placed teams from the fleet racing meet in the elimination series of match races to discover which of them with join the top three in the semi-finals on Friday.
Oracle Racing 5 (or Coutts), now skippered by Darren Bundock, started the seeding series sensationally with a win by a huge margin, but then faded with eighth and sixth placings, while Artemis, skippered by Terry Hutchinson, that had an uncharacteristic seventh to open its account, hit back with a first and a fourth. But the question remains as to whether Team Korea can repeat the performance of Plymouth and emerge from the day’s racing to make the semi-finals.
Artemis seeks to open a can of worms by filing an application to the Jury requesting an interpretation of the Protocol governing the 34th America’s Cup regarding the cooperation agreement between Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa.
It would appear that Artemis, the challenger of record for KSSS, is concerned whether it is in the best interest of all competing teams to learn whether this agreement to cooperate is permissible and goes on to welcome the Italian challenge. There is no doubt that the cooperation is seen by both the Kiwis and the Italians as financially beneficial – and much of the Protocol was written with economies in mind.