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AC World Series San Diego Match Racing - Oracle Racing Spithill 2-0

by Stephanie Martin on 20 Nov 2011
34th America’s Cup - San Diego America’s Cup World Series - Match Race Finals ACEA - Photo Gilles Martin-Raget © http://photo.americascup.com/
Oracle Racing Spithill has taken the final to win the America’s Cup World Series Match Racing Championship, being sailed on San Diego bay.

The Oracle Racing Spithill crew swept across the finish line ahead of Energy Team to a 2-0 win on Saturday afternoon. The victory gave Oracle Racing Spithill the Match Racing Championship at the AC World Series in San Diego.

'We’re really happy,' Spithill said. 'We worked very hard after the last regatta on our match racing; the sail design team, the shore team, our preparation was second to none, so it’s great to reward the team with victory. Energy Team have had great speed and been sailing very well… We did a good job of hanging tough, keeping composed and really keeping close. When we found the opportunity we took it and didn’t look back. I’m very happy.'

Conditions were tricky again on San Diego Bay, with the wind variable in direction, and ranging from 5 to 11 knots in strength. The sun was out for much of the day, bringing the crowds down to the AC Village.

'It was really difficult today, the wind was very shifty,' confirmed Energy Team skipper Yann Guichard. 'We had a good start in the first race, but then I made a small mistake and they passed us. In the second race there was no opportunity to come back. Jimmy was better today. They were the stronger team on the water. But I’m happy. We’ve done a good job all week.'

On Sunday afternoon the full fleet is on the water again, scheduled to race in another AC500 Speed Trial before the big, winner-takes-all, Fleet Racing Championship.

'There’s no question we want the double (winning the fleet and match racing events),' Spithill said after racing, with great conviction. 'We want to be the first team to win both events. So we’re going to do everything we can tomorrow to get a victory.'


Match reports

Energy Team’s Yann Guichard looked like the more experienced match racer in his first start against Oracle Racing’s Jimmy Spithill, winning the favored side of the line and leading into the first mark. But Guichard and crew made a crucial mistake halfway through the race, allowing the American team to sail away to the opposite side of the race track where Spithill found the wind he needed to get ahead. Protecting a slim lead, Spithill then forced Energy Team to make a very slow double tack, gaining enough of an extra margin to sail comfortably to the finish and a 1-0 lead.

Oracle Racing Spithill was strong in the second pre-start and led Energy Team across the starting line and into the first mark. In lighter conditions, Spithill was firm in protecting his position against a French team that showed good speed in the flat water and lighter winds. But on the second lap of the course, ORACLE Racing extended away for a convincing race win, taking the Match Racing Championship 2-0.

Dean Barker, the skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand hounded Artemis Racing towards the starting line, pushing them close earlly, and preventing the Swedish team from building speed before the start, allowing the Kiwis an early lead. Artemis skipper Terry Hutchinson initiated a furious tacking duel to break cover on the first upwind leg, but despite gaining his freedom, he didn’t find the favorable wind shift he needed and New Zealand continued to lead onto the second lap of the course and through to the finish. ETNZ is third, with Artemis Racing fourth.

Aleph rolled over the top Oracle Racing Coutts moments after the starting gun fired to grab a small lead at the first mark. French skipper Pierre Pennec, with limited match racing experience, sailed like a veteran from that moment onwards, trying to cover his opponent whenever possible the rest of the way around the course to win fifth place. Oracle Racing Coutts is sixth.

Team Korea was given a penalty in a pre-start dominated by Green Comm Racing’s Vasco Zbogar and trailed around the first lap of the course. But at the bottom gate, the Spanish team gave Korean skipper Chris Draper an opportunity to split away to the opposite side of the race course where he found a favorable wind shift to steal a narrow lead. The Korean team would sail flawlessly to the finish to earn seventh place. Green Comm Racing finishes eighth.

Results – San Diego Match Racing Championship
Team Korea (7th) beat Green Comm Racing (8th)
Aleph (5th) beat ORACLE Racing Coutts (6th)
Emirates Team New Zealand (3rd) beat Artemis Racing (4th)

Final
Oracle Racing Spithill (1st) beat Energy Team (2nd), 2-0




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