James Spithill and his Oracle Racing crew reversed Emirates Team NZ's run of form to win the Cascais AC Match Race Championship, as the AC World Series Cascais entered its final weekend of racing.
Many of the matches featured close starts, blazing speed runs to the first turning mark and early passing lanes. With the race course boundaries crowded by spectator boats, Spithill and his crew sailed near flawless races on Saturday, with good starts, strong crew work, and winning decision-making.
'I feel like we’ve ramped up as we’ve gone through the week,' Spithill said, after the victory. 'We’ve peaked at the right time. I’m very happy. It feels fantastic.'
For Emirates Team New Zealand it was a disappointing day, after the team dominated the competition to this point.
'Like any day there’s a list of things you can do a lot better, we have a lot of improvement left to make and things to develop,' Barker said. 'We’re looking for an improvement tomorrow…'
Artemis Racing was forced to settle for third place after withdrawing from their Semi Final against Spithill when their giant gennaker sail came tumbling down on deck before it could be furled. Rather than risk more damage to the equipment, skipper Terry Hutchinson made the wise decision to pull out of the race.
'We had a little bit of an issue in which the gennaker came down and it was quickly going to start doing a lot of damage to the boat so we took the decision of retire and protect the asset,' Hutchinson explained. 'But we did a lot of things really, really, well.'
In fourth place was a very happy Team Korea. Chris Draper and his crew opened the day with a win over ORACLE Racing Coutts, to make it into the semis.
'We’re over the moon to finish where we have,' Draper said. 'It’s surpassed our expectations. We were very pleased to have beaten Russell Coutts, so it was a bit difficult to control our emotions, but we’re over the moon.'
The top three teams were celebrated in a podium ceremony following the last match, where winning skipper James Spithill was presented with a Louis Vuitton Watch by Yves Carcelle, the Chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton.
On Sunday, the focus shifts back to fleet racing. All nine teams will be on the water for the AC World Series Cascais Championship, a winner-takes-all, single fleet race, for ranking points that will carry forward throughout the America’s Cup World Series. Start time is 1500 local time (GMT+1).