by Bob Fisher
Artemis Racing - America´s Cup World Series Plymouth 2011
Bob Fisher, one of the worlds top international yachting journalists, and certainly the top writer on the America's Cup, is in Plymouth for the second 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 7 - America's Cup World Series - Plymouth, England
It would appear that there are those who listen in the AC hierarchy, or maybe it is simply because daylight diminishes early in San Diego. There will be 'seeding' racing on the Wednesday of the AC World Series in November, as well as on the Thursday, with Friday and Saturday reserved for match racing. On the final Sunday there will be speed trials as well as the winner-takes-all fleet race.
'We are going to have to finish our days racing earlier in San Diego,' said ACRM supremo Iain Murray, 'since it will be winter and gets dark around 5.30.' The sea breeze, that is promised, doesn’t kick in until around 12.30, which means that the starting times will still be around two o’ clock, giving just enough time for one 40-minute race and two 20-minute ones.
'Today the forecast is for wind from between 290 and 320 degrees,' said Murray with an impish grin on his face as he added, 'at 19-22 knots, with gusts of 30.' And that, as they say, should sort out the men from the boys, particularly if one of those top-end gusts hits as they are bearing away from the windward gate. It promises much for the crowds gathered on The Hoe. Added to that, the course will have its early scamper to the first turning mark on port tack. This is a not-to-be-missed viewing occasion. 'It’s all about survival,' predicted Jimmy Spithill.
Then, just before the race was due to start, a wind shift put paid to the promised spectacle with a reversion to the more normal course that has been used and the port tack scamper was out. But that didn’t stop the fun and games. It was hell on the water for the majority. Loick Peyron was the first to flip, joining the 'Capsize Club' for the first time – the last to do it – but far from the last to do so today. Loick had to capsize to avoid a stalled and reversing Team Korea and it was mooted that his deliberate capsize should see him awarded the seamanship award! He had earlier said: 'It will be a hard day.' Prophetic.
Vasiliji Zbogar aboard Green Comm was caught port and starboard by Artemis in the pre-start and there was a 'mounting' with Green Comm’s port rudder over the bow of Artemis. Green Comm was forced to retire. China Team flipped on leg one when fourth.
The two Oracle Racing boats and Emirates Team New Zealand led the charge to the first mark. Coutts led around the first mark from ETNZ and Spithill. Behind them came Team Korea and Aleph. The Kiwis went to the front by going to the seaward gate mark while Coutts went inshore. Upwind the three leaders swapped places frequently and Coutts went back ahead when Spithill had to bear away to avoid a navigation mark. At the weather gate Coutts led by 20 seconds from Spithill with the Kiwis a further 10 seconds behind.
Spithill going to the left gate gained big time over the others as they reached downwind peaking in excess of 50 knots, and led by three seconds from Coutts at the leeward gate with ETNZ a further six seconds behind. The rest trailed in their broad white wakes, but the order was Aleph from Team Korea, Energy Team and Artemis.
Spithill stretched the lead for Oracle Racing 4 upwind to 16 seconds from Coutts with the Kiwis two seconds behind and prepared to fly downwind once more as fast as before. On the third beat ETNZ overtook Coutts, but was 25 seconds behind the leader as he started downwind for the final time. With one mark and a short finishing leg, it was all Spithill’s to lose, but he made no mistakes and finished 18 seconds ahead with Coutts third a further 16 seconds behind.
The next four streamed in but well beaten – Aleph, Team Korea Energy Team and finally Team China beating the time limit of ten minutes by just four seconds. ETNZ’s second place keeps her on top of the season long championship table by a single point from Oracle Racing 4 with Oracle Racing 5 (Coutts) a further three points behind.