Please select your home edition
Edition
Mackay Boats

Gladwell's Line- A Crucial Race

by . on 17 Sep 2013
Oracle Team USA puts on a show her fans at the end of Race 9 Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz
The final race for today was a break-point for the 34th America’s Cup.

Had Oracle Team USA been able to pull off a second victory for the day, giving herself a hat-trick of wins from the past two days – then she would have gone into the one-day break feeling very satisfied.

The Defender would have knocked a huge hole in the Kiwi machine, which looked unstoppable at the start of the Regatta.

For New Zealand the point was crucial – leaving the Challenger with just two more to score to win the America’s Cup for a third time.

With so much hanging on the win, it was fitting that it was a closely fought affair – and a match racing spectacle the likes of which had never been seen before.

The highpoint of the race came as the two AC72’s neared the windward mark and it became clear that Oracle Team USA had bitten a massive chunk out of the New Zealander’s lead, and in fact the lead swapped several times.

But in a brilliant piece of sailing strategy, Emirates Team New Zealand spent some of their lead on the windward leg to buy a big advantage heading down the final run, on Leg 4.

Their investment paid a huge dividend, as they were able to round the northern Mark 3, and emerge from the rounding at a faster pace and sailing on starboard, with the right of way at the next encounter.

That came a few hundred metres down the run as Oracle Team USA came across on port, and had the choice of gybing and going with the flying Kiwis, or crossing astern and then having the starboard advantage at the next cross.

They elected to take the latter option, slowing the boat to allow the New Zealanders through. But applying the brakes on a speeding AC72 has not really been done before – and too much speed was dropped off, allowing the New Zealanders to quickly grab a bigger lead, which they held to the end of the exciting race.

There is no doubt that the Oracle Team USA afterguard is a much better unit with the addition of Ben Ainslie. The team has also been able to use the time they bought by playing their Lay Day card, after a thumping from the New Zealanders, when they notched their sixth win. Oracle have been able to bolster their weak points to the extent that there is not a lot between the boats in terms of basic speed.

One gets the impression that the New Zealanders still have the upper hand in terms of time on the water. And the thinking on board the Kiwi boat is generally better than that of the Defender.

But in the past two days New Zealand has been put under real pressure, sometimes they have been able to come up with the answers, sometimes not.

In the first two wins scored by Oracle Team USA, the Challengers pointed out that the first was the result of two muffed tacks by the Challenger, and the second was the same – when the AC72 almost capsized in a tack.


But there was no such excuse in Oracle Team USA’s Race 9 win – which came from being able to exploit their port entry right to the starting box, defending the eastern side of the box, and using the ebb (outgoing) tide to push up against the Challenger. Spithill pulled a masterful tactic at the start of luffing after the starting signal, causing Barker to drop speed, then Spithill picked his moment to accelerate and build a lead at the first mark which he was able to extend to 800 metres over the rest of the race.

The change in tide has certainly worked Oracle Team USA’s way, allowing her more time to plan her moves, using the full width of the race area, instead of being pinned into sailing in a smaller area of water to avoid adverse tide.

That allows her to tack in her own time, and we are not seeing the same damage that Emirates Team NZ was able to inflict in a tight tacking situation, and using her self-tacking jib to maximum effect.

Once again, as we saw at the top mark this afternoon, Emirates Team NZ does seem to enjoy a small advantage in tight combat – possibly because tactician Ray Davies can have his head up – without grinding duties – and has those few seconds to think of the longer term plays.


Certainly Ray Davies’ calls have been a feature of the regatta, and may well prove to be the winning of it.

After today, Emirates Team NZ needs two wins to take the Regatta. Oracle requires another eight – which looks to be a difficult task in boats that are evenly matched.

For sure this has been a Match Racing regatta like the sailing world has never before seen – and may never do so again.

And for many the sheer spectacle of seeing two AC72’s foiling downwind in white water is more memorable than the actual outcome of the Match itself.

There is no doubt that this regatta has delivered some brilliant and sublime racing – that can only be marveled, and appreciated by all who follow our great sport.

While Larry Ellison was on the water to enjoy his team's success in the first race of the day. He must have also taken a special pleasure in knowing that his dream of which he spoke of so eloquently back in 2010 had come true - and made such a massive impact on sailing - which will never be the same again.









Mackay BoatsInsun - AC ProgramZhik AkzoNobelb 660x82

Related Articles

A Q&A with Kimball Livingston about San Francisco high school sailing
I emailed with my friend and colleague Kimball Livingtston to learn about San Francisco’s latest sailing revolution. I started hearing whispers of shifts in the San Francisco Bay high school sailing scene a couple of months ago. A few inquiries led me to my good friend and colleague Kimball Livingston, a world-class sailor, scribe, and StFYC staff commodore who isn’t one to keep his seaboots dry when the topic turns to opportunities for the next sailing generation. I caught up with KL via email to learn more.
Posted on 13 Jun
A Q&A with Andrew Howe about winning the 2015 Marion to Bermuda Race
I interviewed Andrew Howe, the 2015 Marion to Bermuda Race’s winning co-navigator, to learn more about their race. In 2015, skipper Greg Marston and the crew of Ti, a 1967 Alden Mistral, racing under celestial rules, were the overall winners of the Marion Bermuda Race Founders Division, beating boats that were enjoying GPS accuracy. On the eve of the 2017 edition of the race, I reached out to Andrew Howe, the team’s co-navigator, to gain perspective on this impressive win and hear about his 2017 plans.
Posted on 7 Jun
An interview with Allan McLean about the 2017 Marion to Bermuda Race
I interviewed Allan McLean, the Marion to Bermuda Race’s executive director, to learn more about this biennial event. The 2017 Marion to Bermuda Race is set to kick off on Friday, June 9, so I caught up with Allan McLean, the race’s executive director, via email to learn more about the race’s history and evolution, its challenges, and the special America’s Cup experience that awaits Marion to Bermuda sailors upon reaching the Onion Patch.
Posted on 5 Jun
An interview with Ray Redniss about the STC’s annual Block Island Race
I caught up with Ray Redniss, the Block Island Race’s longtime PRO, via email to learn more about this classic event. I caught up with Ray Redniss, who has served as the PRO for the Block Island Race and the Vineyard Race (September 1, 2017) for the past twenty-plus years, via email to learn more about the state of this classic, early season New England event.
Posted on 22 May
An Q&A with Jeremy Pochman about 11th Hour Racing’s impressive efforts
I interviewed Jeremy Pochman of 11th Hour Racing to learn more about this forward-thinking environmental non-profit. 11th Hour Racing is doing some of the most forward-leaning environmental work in the entire marine sphere, and I wanted to learn more, so I reached out to Jeremy Pochman, 11th Hour Racing’s Strategic Director and Co-founder, to ask a few questions. All sailors are strongly encouraged to give this interview the time it deserves.
Posted on 15 May
A Q&A with Don Adams about Sail Canada’s plan to win Olympic medals
I caught up with Sail Canada CEO Don Adams to hear about Team Canada’s High Performance Plan for winning Olympic medals. Sail Canada, Canada’s national sailing authority, is implementing a new High Performance Plan with the aim of improving on their recent Olympic sailing performances. I caught up with Don Adams, CEO of Sail Canada, to learn more about this ambition plan for helping Canadian sailors win Olympic medals while also helping to inspire younger generations to pursue the Olympic-sailing dream.
Posted on 8 May
America's Cup - Southern Spars AC50 build for Emirates Team NZ + Video
The Peter Blake skippered Steinlager 2 put Southern Spars on the map 27 years after Steinlager 2 put Southern Spars on the map with her unequalled clean sweep of the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race, Southern Spars were called on to build Emirates Team NZ's America's Cup Challenger. Here's a look behind the scenes at the composite engineering process Southern Spars employ on projects ranging from Volvo OR spars, to Olympic bike wheels to an AC50
Posted on 1 May
She’s still here with us, and now we can be there for her
Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the one that is paramount is her effervescence. Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the one that is paramount is her effervescence. Yet it is what lies behind that which could be her most incredible characteristic. Sometimes you can almost overlook her steely determination, but not for long when you start talking with her. Catching up with her live from Cape Town surely was a vivid reminder of not only what this sailor can accomplish
Posted on 24 Apr
Gladwell's Line - Timeout in Bermuda and a decision OTUSA will regret?
With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath from what has been a hectic couple of months, both in Auckland and Bermuda. The third major Practice Session has concluded in Bermuda. This was conducted almost entirely if winds of around 16-25kts - starting to get close to the top end of the range for the AC50's.
Posted on 20 Apr
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on hitting the AC50's sound barrier
These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. The big difference between the AC72, the America's Cup Class, used in the 2013 America's Cup in San Francisco and the smaller AC50 to be sailed in Bermuda, lies in their light and medium air performance. 'These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. In 7-8-9-10 knots of breeze, you are sailing at 30kts at times.
Posted on 18 Apr