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America's Cup - Friday Race 13 - A Character Forming day

by . on 21 Sep 2013
Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team NZ - Day 10 Guilain Grenier Oracle Team USA © http://www.oracleteamusamedia.com/
Welcome to Sail-World.com's latest America's Cup Newsletter for the 34th America's Cup

Wind restrictions again marred the America’s Cup Match, which remains locked on Match Point.

Oracle Team USA again lived to survive another day, which has been their mantra all regatta.

That survival allows them to re-think, re-group, and come back out hoping that either they hit a sweet spot in moding their boat for the conditions, or they get a lucky break – of which they have had several at very crucial times in the regatta.

That is not to take anything away from the Defenders who are sailing very well indeed - particularly when they smell Kiwi blood.

When they are behind, they look very beatable.


Today’s first race was an absolute travesty – when a time limit runs out on boats that are sailing at 20 kts, and haven’t really got off to a slow start. At 40 minutes the time limit for the race is way too short – but the reason for it is clear. To get a race terminated when the wind has died, and to be able restarted, in time to meet the various deadlines set by TV and others.

The time parameters are that the racing must start no earlier than 1315hrs. And a race can’t start any later than 1440hrs. That is a window of just one hour and 25 minutes, and the 40 minute time limit is about half that

Add to it the 30 minute interval that has to happen between races, and your 40 minute race limit, plus the 30 minute recess, gives 70 minutes – leaving just 15 minutes, or one wind limit reset - to spare.

That’s not a lot of wriggle room. A more sensible move would have been to apply a progressive time limit – used in other sailing events which caters for a race in which the wind dies soon after the start, and allows the race to be restarted without waiting for the full time limit to expire.

There was nothing wrong with the first race this morning - it was a perfectly fair race. Oracle Team USA got found out at the bottom end of the wind range, and it should have been a point for Emirates Team NZ.


Like so many things with this America’s Cup, there has been too much original thinking done in terms of race management, and some of the new ideas haven’t worked. It is too driven around the agendas of others.

As Dean Barker noted at the Media Conference after today’s race, now three races have been blown up when the New Zealand team is in the lead. The Defender has had none of that, and puts their much vaunted two point penalty prior to the regatta into a different context. Maybe the scales have been tilted the Defender’s way. Maybe the real score in this regatta should be 11-5.

Even that measure of the racing distorts the fact that Oracle Team USA were clearly behind the level of Emirates Team NZ at the start of the regatta. But with luck going their way, judicious use of their lay day – after a hiding by Emirates Team NZ, and being able to make the right changes to their boat – Oracle Team USA clearly have the measure of the Kiwis, but don’t have a lot of runway left to do the job.

Essentially the equation remains the same as before today - the Defenders have to win the next six races in a row to win the 34th America’s Cup – and that is huge ask.


The Kiwi nation continues to revel in America’s Cup fever.

Fortunately it is not a terminal condition – but is being described as akin to the Rugby World Cup fever of 2012, with the media ratings being very similar or even exceeding those of the Rugby World Cup.

Today's litmus test was again the traffic levels in Auckland – normally jammed with parents and kids trying to get to Saturday morning sport. Today at the start you could have fired a shot down most major thoroughfares and not down any damage at all. We’ve seen more traffic at 3.00am than was on the road at 8.00am today.

Listening to the cancellations on Newstalk ZB, one bowling club out west advised that there would be 'no play until 11.00am, and if Emirates Team New Zealand wins there will a Victory Party instead of play for the rest of the day.'

Down at the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron, the mood was buoyant until 35 minutes into the first race of the day. But the red-dressed, red-socked, flag wearing horde fell into incredulity at the mention of the pending time limit.

The US-based commentary team had been onto the time limit being an issue right from Mark 1.


Spirits soared amongst the RNZYS fans, in the early stages of the re-run of Race 13, but crashed after the penalty for the port and starboard infringement was finally announced.

A replay of that incident on Virtual Eye showed that the bow to bow separation between the two competitors was 31 metres (the AC72 is 22 metres long and 26.2metres including the bowsprit). Oracle Team USA's avoid yielded just eight metres.

However the gap between the two was such that it was probably a fair cop by the umpires, and not the Hollywood that it seemed on screen. Both boats were sailing at 26kts at the time of the incident.

In the immortal words of Sir Peter Blake’s mentor, Sir Tom Clark today could best be described as 'character forming'.

Tomorrow is another day - just one race required to win the America's Cup, compared to the six straight wins required by the Defender.


Stay tuned to our website www.Sail-World.com for daily updates on how the action finally unfolds in the 34th America’s Cup.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell .
Sail-World's America's Cup News Editor

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