Please select your home edition
Edition
Barz Optics - Polarised and non-polarised readers for sailors

AC34- A look at American hopes for a successful defense

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 16 Sep 2013
San Francisco, 14/09/13 34th AMERICA’S CUP America’s Cup Final 5 Emirates Team New Zealand vs Oracle Team USA Photo: © LUNA ROSSA/Carlo Borlenghi Carlo Borlenghi/Luna Rossa http://www.lunarossachallenge.com
For American fans of America’s Cup racing, these are dark days. Our team is trailing Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) six to zero, which is a historically unprecedented 'slump'. Still, hopes flickered slightly higher yesterday after Oracle Team USA-the Defender-managed to win a critical race that bought the team a bit more precious chronological runway in which to improve their boat and their boat handling.

Unfortunately, this victory didn’t come through brilliant sailing on Oracle’s part (although they played some smart tactical cards), but rather a rare crew error that almost cost ETNZ much more than a simple race.


By now you’ve seen the gobsmacking video and still photography of ETNZ’s AC72 scratching at the gates of vanishing stability. This error allowed the Americans to sail away in clear air, sans any serious challenge, and cross the finishing line nearly a minute before the Kiwis.

Still, Dean Barker, ETNZ’s skipper appeared cool and calm in the between-races interview-stirred, perhaps, but certainly not shaken.



While American fans were quick to hoist Old Glory high above their heads, hopes of an American comeback ebbed substantially as Barker again won the start of the next race and again beat Oracle around every mark before racing was cancelled due to winds exceeding the USCG-enforced safety limits.

At the post racing press conference, Jimmy Spithill, Oracle’s skipper, tried his best to frame the day’s on-the-water battles as a clear sign that his team can win races, but the fact remains that ETNZ died by their own sword yesterday, not through damage inflicted by Spithill.

The Defender has retooled their boat, truncating their bowsprit (no more Code Zeros for the Americans) and making other less-obvious changes, which legitimately seem to be helping the team’s ability to sail to weather. The breeze is expected to be up for today’s racing, which could potentially translate to more cancelled races. For Oracle, any extra time to work on their boat and to polish their crew work absolutely matters, and should be considered one of the team’s prime sources of lifeblood.

The hard-boiled reality for American fans is that we need to win nine races in order to defend, while the Kiwis simply have to take three races and the Cup goes antipodean. I’m no betting man, but the odds are not looking great for American interests.



Still, one real flicker of hope remaining for Oracle is the team’s never-die, never-surrender attitude. Listening to Spithill at the press conference, it was obvious that this squad has plenty of fight left, but watching them sail the course against ETNZ, especially in the first races of this Cup, it’s obvious that the Defender simply has a slower boat, less tactical boat.

The reasons are manifold, ranging from the fact that they didn’t incorporate a self-tacking jib (which frees up ETNZ’s tactician, Ray Davies, to study the course, rather than spending his time pushing around hydraulic fluid) to their fine bows to their less-stiff platform to their October 16, 2012 capsize, which set the team seriously astern of the Kiwis, training-time wise.

Add up all of the fractions and you quickly arrive at familiar numbers, namely six to zero.



It will be interesting to see if Oracle emerges from the shed with additional modifications or changes to their crew list. For their part, ETNZ is also still evolving their AC72, but it’s safe to say that their learning curve is far less daunting than the one that Spithill and his team members will be negotiating over the next several days.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

Barz Optics - FloatersProtector - 660 x 82Wildwind 2016 660x82

Related Articles

A Q&A with Charles Pessler, the regatta director of the legendary STIR
I corresponded with Charles Pessler, STIR’s regatta director, to learn about the event’s recent changes and evolutions. I recently corresponded via email with Charles “Chuck” Pessler, who is serving as the regatta director of the legendary STIR, to learn more about the changes and evolutions that have taken place at the event since my 2010 trip to racing paradise.
Posted on 22 Mar
New Pacific 52 class makes its debut in San Francisco
The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. Invisible Hand for San Francisco's Frank Slootman replaces his earlier RP63 of the same name. She will soon be joined by a second Cookson build, Bad Pack (Tom Holthus) from the same moulds. A third, RIO 52 is for RIO 100 supermaxi owner Manouch Moshayedi.
Posted on 18 Mar
A Q&A with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race
I talked with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race, to learn more about this exciting race to Cuba. The 2017 Miami to Havana Race is set to begin on March 15 and promises high adventure-both sailing-related and cultural-for the sailors lucky enough to be participating in this historical-and for now legal-race. I talked with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race and SORC race chairman, to learn more about this exciting race to Cuba.
Posted on 13 Mar
Gladwell's Line - Of Carnage, Characters and Colour
About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched, and Cup fans get their first sight of the various team designers' response to the latest America's Cup Class rule. In the monohull days, of course, we initially only got a partial glimpse thanks to the shrouding practices adopted by all teams to hide the nether regions of their America's Cupper
Posted on 13 Mar
Caleb Paine on winning a US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award
I talked with Caleb Paine about his recent US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award and about his Olympic plans. On August 16, Caleb Paine broke the longest-running medal ceremony dry spell for American-flagged Olympic sailors since the 1930s when he captured a bronze medal in the Finn class at the Rio 2016 Olympics. I recently caught up with Paine on the phone to talk about his proud US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award and about his future sailing plans.
Posted on 10 Mar
A Q&A with Lloyd Thornburg about his love of fast boats and racing
I recently caught up with Thornburg to learn more about his program, and to gain insight into racing MOD70s offshore. Not too many world-class sailors hail from the high deserts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, but Lloyd Thornburg isn’t your average sailor. The 37-year old investor flies the New York Yacht Club’s burgee from his fleet of raceboats that have included a Gunboat 66, a MOD70, and a Farr 280. I recently caught up with Thornburg to learn more about his program, and to gain insight into racing MOD70s offshore.
Posted on 8 Mar
So what’s it really like?
For ages now, these editorials have talked about multihull this, record that, outrageous boat speed and 24-hour runs For ages now, well it seems like that anyway, these editorials have talked about multihull this, record that, outrageous boat speed and incredible 24-hour runs. In their own very unique way they totally represent the technical avant-garde, and thank God for that. Where would we be without their impressive shapes, wonderful rigs, and now of course, foiling magic.
Posted on 6 Mar
JJ Giltinan 18ft - Kiwi Champion the subject of two protests in Sydney
Overall series leader Yamaha will have her position put on the line in a series of protest hearings on Friday Overall series leader Yamaha will have her position put on the line in a series of protest hearings Friday morning in Sydney. She faces two claims - both from Appliancesonline (David Witt). The first is an attempt to re-open the Hearing held on Wednesday morning after Yamaha was suffered damage in Race 3 as a result of a collision with a give way yacht, and Yamaha received redress of average
Posted on 3 Mar
A Q&A with US Sailing’s Malcolm Page about the Sailing World Cup Miami
I spoke with Malcolm Page, US Sailing’s Olympic chief, about the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami I talked with Malcolm Page (AUS), a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the Men’s 470 class and the chief of Olympic sailing at US Sailing, to get his pulse on the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami and discuss some recent coaching changes within the Olympic-sailing program.
Posted on 20 Feb
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ give first look at the pedaling AC50
Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. The team has been sailing for the previous two days making news headlines after it was revealed in Sail-World.com that the AC50 would become only the second yacht in America's Cup history to use pedal power.
Posted on 16 Feb