Fisher's View: ACWS, San Diego: First day of the match racing

Day 4, America’s Cup World Series - Match Racing, Qualification Round

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.

He writes:

Dear Diary – Day 4 - America's Cup World Series - San Diego, California, USA

It was a Grade A grey day in San Diego Bay to decide which of the six teams should join the three pre-selected semi-finalists in the match racing championship. Despite the fading breeze there was plenty of exciting matches to watch and the last of the five matches was described by the winning helmsman, Terry Hutchinson, as 'a f***king legendary race.'

That was hardly surprising; Terry had been through the wringer in Team Artemis’ race with Pierre Pennec and his crew in Aleph. Firstly it had been abandoned after Artemis had imposed a penalty on Aleph in the pre-start, denying the French the opportunity to enter the start box before the time limit. Artemis had gone away from the start, built a lead and then lost it when 'the lights went out.'

Day 4, America’s Cup World Series - Match Racing, Qualification Round

The lights in question were those that show the boats’ crews where the course boundaries are, and without them the racing cannot continue. Their failure was blamed on the inclement weather, but Harold Bennett soon had the show back on the road and Hutchinson was able to repeat the pre-start misery for the French.

The Artemis lead wavered back and forth throughout the race, but Hutchinson was ably backed. 'You can hear the confidence in [Iain] Percy’s voice as he makes the calls,' said skipper Hutchinson of his tactician, 'It was a tricky wind and we had to hang tough.' Hang tough they did to finish 38 seconds ahead of Aleph.

Day 4, America’s Cup World Series - Match Racing, Qualification Round

Earlier things had been very much to Aleph’s liking. As eighth seed the French despatched the China Team, the ninth seed, easily by a 1:31 margin when the breeze was at its best. Then Pennec and his crew tackled the fifth seed, Team Korea, who had been the runner up in Plymouth, and once more emerged the winner, this time by 25 seconds.

The French rested while sixth seed Oracle Racing 5 with Darren Bundock squared up to the seventh seed Green Comm Racing. Bundy made it look easy, winning by 48 seconds without problems. Then he met the rampant French and suffered at the hands of Pennec and his crew, much to the crowds surprise and expectations.

Only the Swedish team was able to put a stop to the French triumph, and tomorrow Artemis will join Energy Team, Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Racing 4 (Spithill) in the semi-finals. Artemis will meet the top seed, Energy Team in the second race after ETNZ and Oracle Racing have had the first of their best-of-three match. The final will be held on Saturday along with the placing races.

Day 4, America’s Cup World Series - Match Racing, Qualification Round
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