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Fisher's View- America's Cup World Series Day 3 – Nursing the wounds

by Bob Fisher on 15 Sep 2011
Artemis Racing and Energy Team - AC45 World Series Plymouth 2011 Sander van der Borch / Artemis Racing © http://www.sandervanderborch.com

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.

He writes:

Dear Diary – Day 3 - America's Cup World Series - Plymouth, England

There is no doubt that all the crews at the AC World Series are in need of practice, but this can prove counter-productive.

Last night some of the teams were working round the clock to have their boats ready for today. China Team, after a spectacular series of cartwheels on what was a day off, needed to replace its wing. The shore crew, which also had other repairs to make, was fully stretched and acknowledged the assistance they had received from Artemis Racing, their next door neighbours. 'We couldn’t have completed the work without their help,' said Will Howden.

Chris Brittle is described as the 'floater' aboard Team Korea and he explained its meaning: 'I’m the strongest on the boat and when that strength is needed, I’m there to deal with the problem.' With his weight he is also useful right aft as the boat goes down wind in order to keep the bows out.

Sunday’s double capsize kept the shore crew of Green Comm busy, mostly working on the repairs to the wind, a large area of which needed re-skinning before today’s race. Luca Devoti, the team’s manager, said: 'We had been working flat out in order to repair the wing and be ready to race on Wednesday and we also re-cut our jibs and thought we were 100% ready. When we double-checked the hull we found there were some structural problems.'

Helmsman Vasilij Zbogar, who was washing off the hulls and carrying out a final damage check, discovered the de-lamination in the port hull. Happily, ACRM was prepared for this eventuality and provided a spare, but it needed round the clock working to have it ready for today’s race. Devoti commented: 'We will have the first AC45 with two differently-colored hulls. This is a minor hiccup in the very long journey.' It was a pity therefore that the crew failed to take the penalties during the first race and was disqualified;

Many locals are bewailing the absence of a British team for the America’s Cup, but the truth is that when the move was made from monohulls to catamarans, Team Origin’s advisors in formed Sir Keith Mills that there would be little chance of success. Yet there are ten British sailors in other teams competing here, including four of the five sailors in Team Korea. And it should be noted that the two principal sailors of Team Origin, Ben Ainslie (with the Oman Extreme 40 team) and Iain Percy (here with Artemis) have made the change to catamarans.

The first of the three 'seeding' races saw considerable activity despite the light breeze (never more than 10 knots). The lead changed frequently during the 40-minute race due to the big variations in wind pressure. Loick Peyron and the Energy Team battled at the front with Jimmy Spithill in Oracle 4 and by the fourth mark was ahead after splitting sides of the course. Then Terry Hutchinson and Artemis Racing came into the mix and a battle royal emerged at the front of the fleet. Finally it was Artemis from Energy Team and Oracle 4 third ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand.

The next two races were shorter and in slightly stronger breeze – just 20 minutes each, which put considerable importance on the start. The Kiwis nailed it and led Energy Team at the first mark with Chris Draper and Team Korea fighting for third place with ETNZ. On the beat Team Korea went offshore and gained considerably to lead around the next mark and finish the race ahead of ETNZ with Russell Coutts in Oracle 5 third ahead of Artemis.

The final race was a tough one for Dean Barker and ETNZ. They were inches early at the start, along with Bertrand Pace and Aleph, and returned to the back of the pack. Loick Peyron led the charge with the China Team and Team Korea in hot pursuit downwind as Artemis also came into the reckoning. Artemis rounded the leeward gate a length ahead of Energy Team, but on the beat ETNZ made huge gains to round the top mark second behind Artemis.

Terry Hutchinson took Artemis to her second win of the day while the second place of ETNZ gave her second overall in the seeding. Team Korea’s third also placed her in the same overall position as did Energy Team’s fourth. The two Oracle boats had their worst day since racing in AC-45s began with Coutts and Spithill finishing fifth and sixth.

Today’s racing was somewhat tempered by the announcement that there will be two more rounds of the World Series in Italy. They will be in April next year and May 2013 in Naples.
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