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America's Cup World Series: Emirates Team NZ leads again in Plymouth

'Emirates Team New Zealand in race two on day one of the America’s Cup World Series Plymouth regatta.'    Chris Cameron/ETNZ©    Click Here to view large photo

Emirates Team New Zealand got a good start to the Plymouth America’s Cup World Series regatta, finishing the day with two wins and a third.

The results gave Barker, Ray Davies, Glen Ashby, James Dagg and Winston Macfarlane a lead on points at the end of the first day of the 'preliminaries'.

Emirates Team New Zealand has 28 points of a possible 30 at stake in the three fleet races, followed by Artemis Racing and Oracle 4 each on 26.

It was a grey, windy and sometimes wet day at Plymouth. The breeze almost lived up to the dire forecasts. Still the nine teams raced in more breeze than they had ever before from 17-18 knots to around 25 knots in the squalls. No guests were allowed on for safety reasons.

Barker said: 'There was plenty going on out there ... big wind across short, tight courses.

The team started the day the way they finished at Cascais last month – with a win. They got a clean start, were first around mark 1 and led to the finish.

They were chased hard by Oracle 4 with James Spithill at the helm. With their lead swinging from 50 to 150 metres, the slimmest of margins in the conditions, Barker was never comfortable.

He doggedly defended the right side of the course and rounded every mark in the lead.

Race 2 did not start well. Barker was caught in a traffic jam at the committee end of the start line and got away slowly, well back in the fleet.

As Barker describes it: 'We lined up for the start but were a little early. Oracle 4 did a good job of taking our position and got away cleanly while we got caught in the traffic.'

Oracle 4 went on to do what Emirates Team New Zealand did in the previous race and led to the finish.

Barker and crew demonstrated again that they relish a chase. After rounding mark 1 in seventh place, they picked their way through the fleet to finish third behind Oracle 4 and Artemis.

In race 3, Emirates Team New Zealand stayed out of trouble at the pin end of the start line and got away at speed. Once again they team led from start to finish. Artemis and then Oracle 4 chased hard.

Oracle 4 and Emirates split at Mark 5, Barker going left and Spithill right. Barker initially extended but Spithill worked the right hard and was looking good until he got involved with spectator craft that had strayed into the course. Artemis took over second place and Spithill finished fourth.

Speed trials followed the fleet races. Oracle 5 (Russell Coutts) was fastest on the day with a speed of 45.35 km/h over the 500m course. Emirates Team New Zealand was second with a speed of 43.72 km/h.

by Warren Douglas


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7:41 PM Sat 10 Sep 2011 GMT

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