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Fisher's View- Day 3 ACWS San Francisco - All on a sunny day

by Bob Fisher on 25 Aug 2012
Oracle Team USA - America’s Cup World Series San Francisco 2012 August, 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 - America's Cup World Series - San Francisco, CA, USA

Russell Coutts will be wanting a meeting with teammate Jimmy Spithill following an incident at the start of the first fleet race today. Earlier things had gone his way in his quarter-final match race with Yann Guichard and the Energy Team in 20 knots of breeze. Coutts had started to leeward, in control at the first mark and led throughout the 13 minute race. It was very much a repeat of the earlier race in which Dean Barker and the Emirates Team New Zealand crew had dismissed Ben Ainslie Racing.

Then, as the eleven boats lined up for the start of the first fleet race, Coutts & Co lined up at the weather end and pulled the trigger with seven seconds to go. But in that time, Jimmy Spithill had closed the gap and there was not enough room for Oracle Racing USA - Coutts. The collision with the Committee Boat was inevitable and Coutts' boat stopped dead in its tracks, leaving a piece of its starboard bow embedded in the hull of Regardless, the committee vessel.

The incident might well have amused the seal that was seen frolicking close to the starting area, but it totally spoiled the day for Coutts and his crew. They took no further part in that race, or the second after they had returned to base to effect repairs and they now move to tenth place, ahead only of China Team.

Spithill, on the other hand, after scraping a seventh in the first race, hit back hard in the second one, winning by 15 seconds from Nathan Outteridge and Team Korea. It keeps Oracle Team USA-Spithill at the top of the overall standings, eight points clear of Team Korea.

When the sun cleared the early morning fog, there was the promise of more wind for the day's racing and certainly it was full-on when the match races began. After the promise he had shown two days earlier, Ben Ainslie was putty in the hands of Dean Barker. Winning the start, Barker pulverised his opponent. It was much the same in the other match when Coutts took the initiative at the start and was never in danger of losing.

The crowd was even denser along the Marina Green shoreline today, and there is promise of a greater one at the weekend, but today it was treated to some close action as the boats cheated the current of the flood tide. Yet in the second race, Spithill rounded the leeward mark the first time in third place behind ETNZ and Team Korea and headed offshore. It was a strategy that worked.

Oracle Team USA-Spithill picked up a more favourable slant of breeze and was to lead narrowly at the windward mark the first time. Spithill repeated the move on the second beat to consolidate his lead. Maybe, home turf advantage was evident. ETNZ claimed third in that race with Ben Ainslie Racing having its best result so far with a fourth.

Tomorrow, the semi-finals of the match racing see Terry Hutchinson in Artemis Racing - White against Coutts, if his boat is repaired in time; and Spithill versus ETNZ. Then there will be two further fleet races; the conclusion of this series will be on Sunday with the massively points-loaded single race. The eight point lead that Spithill has at this stage could easily evaporate - the winner on Sunday will obtain 15 more points than the second placed team.

Cheers,
Bob







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