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Fisher's View- Day 4 - Win and a swim for Spithill in America's Cup WS

by Bob Fisher on 7 Oct 2012
Saturday October 6th. AC45 World Series San Francisco (Oct. 2-7). Sander van der Borch / Artemis Racing © http://www.sandervanderborch.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:

Day 4 Match Racing Semis and Finals Semi's and Fleet Racing - America's Cup Cup World Series

Dateline: San Francisco, USA Friday, 5th October 2012

Day 4 of Racing

The burble of 'will they - won't they' continues around Little Marina Green in San Francisco. The latest is whether or not there will be a European tour next year for the AC-45s, and if there is, just which venues will be used, or will it be deleted from the schedule and allow the 'serious' players to devote more time to their campaigns in the AC-72s.

Currently ACWS regattas are scheduled for Venice and Naples in the early northern hemisphere summer and maybe there could be one in the Aegean Sea, but rumour surrounding these proposed events would indicate that early flight bookings should be cancelled.

Match Race Semi-final - Artemis Racing - White v Oracle Team USA - Spithill

Wind 17 knots at 245 degrees

Spithill entered from the starboard side with the advantage over Nathan Outteridge, who had advanced to the semi-finals courtesy of a mistake by Russel Coutts in the quarter final. Hutchinson was first in and crossed to take up the starboard tack. Spithill went to go to leeward but wound up to windward and was faster than Artemis and sailed over the top and led by two seconds at the first mark.

Hutchinson was the first to gybe but it was not a good move and Spithill stretched his lead as they sped away at 24 knots. Spithill went to inshore mark and led by seven seconds as Hutchinson went offshore. Then a tacking duel ensued with Hutchinson closing, until Spithill gained inshore and tacked on his rival's wind - upwind speed around 15 knots.

Round the windward gate with Spithill eight seconds in front - nine at the final mark and ten seconds at the finish. Spithill goes to the final.

Match Race Semi-final - Emirates Team New Zealand v Artemis Racing - Red

Nathan Outteridge, with Paul Cayard as tactician, had the starboard tack advantage over Dean Barker in Emirates Team New Zealand. Barker tacked and luffed forcing Artemis away. At 30 seconds Barker went for the lee side but Outteridge, to windward, led away to round the first mark with a five second lead.

Immediately, Outteridge gybed, but Barker held on in a strong puff and went ahead after catching Artemis in a port and starboard incident and led around the leeward gate by ten seconds. Both went round the inshore mark and headed that way on starboard tack. Outteridge tacked away quickly and Barker tacked to cover him. Barker maintained that position with every tack, forcing Outteridge away. ETNZ gained by going inshore and forcing Artemis - Red into the choppier water offshore. Barker kept up the pressure to lead by 17 seconds at the weather mark.

From there, the bear-away put ETNZ in an unassailable position to win by 18 seconds. 'We didn't do well at the start, but there are always opportunities,' said Barker after the finish.

Fleet Race Five

Wind 17 knots at 255 degrees

A huge crowd lined the City Front shoreline, estimated at 40 thousand, watched the elev boats come to the line in a bunch, Barker leading. Spithill capsized at the first mark, nose-diving and pitch-poling as he bore away. Barker led down the run with a 100 metre advantage. China Team was making the running. Barker led by six seconds from Team Korea and Luna Rossa - Swordfish; the Italian was then protested for forcing a passage at the mark.

Upwind, Barker, without any wind disturbance, increased his lead over Team Korea, with Artemis Racing - White in third place. Barker led by25 seconds at the windward mark with Hutchinson third and a fast-moving Ainslie fourth. ETNZ had a 27 second lead over Team Korea. The Hutchinson went inshore and Ainslie offshore. Upwind there was little change of positions. Barker was conservative and Ainslie closed on the boats ahead and went down the shore on the run before gybing, but to no avail.

ETNZ was first, 17 second ahead of Team Korea. Artemis - White was 13 seconds later, ten seconds in front of Ainslie. China Team was fifth, Energy Team was sixth, Luna Rossa -Swordfish seventh, Coutts eighth, Artemis -Red ninth and Luna Rossa - Piranha brought up the rear.

Fleet Race Six

Wind 17 knots at 255 degrees.

Hutchinson fast at the leeward end but Ainslie was good at the windward side and led by three seconds at the first mark from Hutchinson. Ainslie took the middle on the run, while Hutchinson went offshore and BAR led by 54 metres. Team Korea was third and Luna Rossa - Piranha fourth. Wind up to 18 knots and BAR led by ten seconds through the leeward gate and went inshore followed by Hutchinson. Coutts was having problems with a genniker that failed to furl properly.

Ainslie continued to lead on a slightly shortened course. Spithill, back in the race after his capsize in the first, was protesting Hutchinson, but after some delay no penalty was awarded. Ainslie led at the windward gate by 24 seconds from Hutchinson with Spithill third a further two seconds back. Ainslie's lead increased to more than 200 metres and Spithill and Hutchinson rounded opposite gate marks almost simultaneously - Spithill going offshore. It worked for Spithill who crossed ahead when they next met, and ETNZ closed with Artemis - White.

Hutchinson crossed Spithill and the Oracle skipper was penalised for fouling ETNZ at the mark. Ben Ainslie Racing won by 41 seconds from Spithill, who gained offshore in a gust with Hutchinson third and Barker fourth. Team Korea was fifth, Luna Rossa - Piranha sixth Energy seventh, Artemis - Red eighth, Luna Rossa - Swordfish, Oracle - Coutts and China Team were at the back.


Match Race Final

Oracle Team USA - Spithill v Emirates Team New Zealand

Barker led the pair back to the line and Spithill went to leeward, luffed and Barker stalled out. Spithill penalised for breaking the line early, but took it and was still well in front. The Oracle Team USA boat was 30 seconds ahead at the leeward gate and 21 seconds up at the top. Barker closed on the run and was 13 seconds behind as they started the final beat. ETNZ was noticeably the faster by almost a knot at most times, yet Spithill was content to let the Kiwis break away. At the final windward mark the gap was 14 seconds and Barker went to the shoreline while Spithill went offshore. No change. Spithill won by 19 seconds.


The spoils of the day were shared between the overall Match Racing Champion, Oracle Team USA - Spithill and Ben Ainslie Racing, the leader of the Fleet Racing after six of the seven races. Jimmy's aggressive starting was the measure of the issue, and Ben's continued 'improvement' (if such term could be used for one so talented) in the AC-45s has led to an eleven point lead. But Ben Ainslie is well aware of the massive points loading on Super Sunday's single race.

Cheers

Bob




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