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Fisher's View- Day 3 - Ainslie sparkles in America's Cup World Series

by Bob Fisher on 6 Oct 2012
Ben Ainslie - America’s Cup World Series San Francisco 2012 October, Race Day 3 ACEA - Photo Gilles Martin-Raget © http://photo.americascup.com/

Bob Fisher, one of the world's top international yachting journalists, and certainly the top writer on the America's Cup, is in San Francisco, CA, USA for the sixth round of the America's Cup World Series.

Bob is a multihuller from way back, having won the 1967 Little America's Cup, with Peter Schneidau on Lady Helmsman, and has been covering the America's Cup since 1967.

He writes:

Dear Diary – Day 3 Match Racing Semi's and Fleet Racing - America's Cup Cup World Series - San Francisco, CA, USA

Dateline: San Francisco Friday, 5th October 2012

Day 3 of Racing

Much of the talk around the bases has been not so much of the AC-45s as of the 'real' America's Cup boats, the AC-72s. The performance of the Emirates Team New Zealand 72, seen around the world on video, has drawn gasps of astonishment, particularly when seen foil-borne at close to 40 knots. It has proved conclusively that this will be the mode in which the 34th America's Cup will be contested.

The Kiwis have made the foils work (and stay working, which is perhaps even more important) while the perceived technological advantage of Oracle Team USA has diminished following the failure of the foils on their second day afloat.


Wind: 13 knots from 260 degrees

Race One - Oracle USA - Coutts v Artemis Racing Red Coutts was able to luff and touch Outteridge on the start line and impose a penalty to lead around the first mark. Downwind with Paul Cayard calling the shots on his home waters, the boats closed slightly but Coutts was 19 seconds clear. Upwind as Coutts went offshore, Outteridge went for the shore and closed the gap. A simultaneous tack with Coutts offshore and the two crossed with Coutts still in front. Outteridge tacked on the starboard layline and Coutts tacked straight in front and rounded the windward mark 28 seconds in front. The genniker on Outteridge's boat was snarled and would not unfurl. Made the difference between them huge or it would have been had Coutts gone around the correct mark. He hadn't and was disqualified. Down the last leg, Coutts had joked with his crew about the 'Old Bull', but it backfired on him and the laugh was on the 'young bull's' face.

Match Race Two Ben Ainslie Racing v Oracle USA - Spithill

Level start, but Ainslie touched, and as windward boat was penalised and was five seconds behind at the first mark. BAR gybed instantly and went offshore, but overstood the leeward gate where the gap was 13 seconds. Ainslie went offshore and Spithill towards the City Front. There was 25 metres in it. It stretched in Spithill's favour to 80 metres. At the windward gate there was just eight seconds in it. At the finish the gap was still eight seconds. It was close but Spithill was always in control.


Fleet Race Three

Wind 13 knots at 250 degrees

start was crowded with Coutts going for leeward end but both Luna Rossas further down. Coutts dipped at the last and claimed the start and first mark, but BAR beat him to it and held on as Coutts gybed at the mark. Artemis - White was close with BAR and both ahead of Coutts. At leeward gate, Ainslie led and went inshore - Coutts followed and Hutchinson went offshore. Coutts had to dip Hutchinson, but Ainslie able to cross ahead to lead by 26 metres. Iain Percy calling good tactics for Hutchinson and closing with Ainslie two-boat lengths on the cross - Iker Martinez moving into fourth with Luna Rossa - Swordfish. Ainslie tacked in front of Hutchinson by 10 seconds and went offshore on rounding. Coutts was next and Chris Draper fourth in Luna Rossa - Piranha, just in front of teammate Martinez.

Ainslie's battle with Hutchinson continued throughout this race while Draper moved up at the last to snatch third place from Nathan Outteridge in Artemis Racing - Red. Emirates Team New Zealand was fifth, just ahead of Oracle USA - Spithill. Loick Peyron brought the Energy Team into seventh ahead of Coutts, Luna Rossa - Swordfish, Team Korea and the China Team

Fleet Race four

Wind 10 knots at 250 degrees

and Hutchinson neck and neck at start Spithill went offshore as Hutchinson hung on and then gybed; Ainslie was with him. Loick Peyron led into the leeward mark from Hutchinson and Ainslie. Peyron was behind at the turn when he went offshore and the others went inshore. China Team was fourth. China Team broke a jib halyard and lost ground.

At weather mark Hutchinson was five seconds in front and a 30 second gap to the French and the Kiwis.. Spithill and Coutts were sixth and eighth. The pressure increased on the second downwind leg and the French began to catch up. Spithill moved into fourth. Hutchinson led Ainslie by 14 seconds at the start of the beat and towards the end of the leg tacked right on his rival's wind. At the mark Hutchinson was nine seconds ahead with Peyron third and Outteridge fourth. Those places were held to the finish - Hutchinson winning by 15 seconds. Spithill was fifth, Barker sixth.

At the end of the day, the sparkling consistency of Ainslie, whose scoreline of 1,3,1,2 proved far better than his rivals and on 43 points he has a nine-point lead over Terry Hutchinson in Artemis - White whose teammate Nathan Outteridge is third a further two points in arrears. Spithill is next with 29, two ahead of Barker, in turn two clear of Peyron, on the same points as Coutts. The failing of both Luna Rossa boats this week has been a talking point with only the third place of Chris Draper providing any relief.

There's more of the same on Saturday.

Cheers,
Bob


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