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AC World Series Plymouth - Throttling final day for Energy Team

by Pierre Giboire on 19 Sep 2011
Energy Team - America’s Cup World Series 2011 ACEA - Photo Gilles Martin-Raget © http://photo.americascup.com/
The America’s Cup World Series has now wrapped up competition in Plymouth. On the final day, nine competitors faced 25-30 knot winds for a race that is sure to go down in the history books. It all began with a series of capsizes starting with Energy Team, as they attempted to avoid Team Korea and went over two minutes before the start.

Even more incredible, thanks to the work of the Energy Team crew and support team, they managed to right the catamaran in just a few seconds and made it to the start line.

At 1545 hrs on Sunday, the Race Directors decided to go for course number six with the usual starboard start. This was down to the strong conditions out on the water, which according to James Spithill, today’s winner, were 'similar to San Francisco'. For Energy Team, the result was all down to the start phase, with their capsize two minutes before crossing the line to avoid Team Korea. But there was no way the French challenger was going to give up and Peyron’s men got their boat upright a few seconds later, rather like a water start for a windsurfer. Loïck Peyron:

'The time it took to get the helm down, and to get out of there as the rocks weren’t far away, to throw a tow line to our support team and tell them how to pull on the boat, I managed to get the mainsail in and we got off to a water start. It all went smoothly? It could have been much worse, as we could have hit the Koreans and caused a lot ofdamage. It’s true that the gusts of wind close to the rocks meant we were on the edge.'

Out on the water, the show went on with a collision between Artemis and Green Comm: the Spaniards were forced to retire, but the Swedish team managed to race in spite of a damaged float.

And the top teams are off...

Both Oracle boats and Team New Zealand got of to a good start, followed by China Team, Energy Team and Aleph, but China Team would also capsize. As soon as they crossed the line, the gap widened and there were three races in one: three boats close together at the front : Oracle-Spithill, Team New Zealand and Oracle-Coutts, followed by Aleph and Team Korea with Energy Team and Artemis further back. Energy Team, which was back in eighth place fought back at the leeward mark, and made it to the windward mark in sixth place. The French carried out some long tacks, right out to the edge of the race course.

After 22 minutes of racing, Energy Team rounded the windward mark, as Spithill was rounding the windward buoy, so a leg separated the leader from the sixth boat. Sailing at full speed on the downwind leg and tacking well on the upwind legs, the French team remained in sixth place, 20 seconds behind the three leaders. Energy Team kept the speed up behind the leading trio on the downwind leg. Artemis did not manage to catch them on the upwind leg, but were on the heels of Energy Team as the rounded the windward mark. It was a difficult rounding, but the French team made a wise decision as they changed tack, leaving the Swedes ten seconds behind.

Shortly after that they would capsize with one of their crewmen falling through the wing sail on the catamaran. Energy Team kept going to the finish, more or less upwind and sailed across the finishing line without taking too many risks, as behind them there were no real threats. So the French challenger finishes in sixth place.

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