Bob Fisher, one of the worlds top international yachting journalists, and certainly the top writer on the America's Cup, is in Plymouth for the second round of the America's Cup World Series.
Bob is a multihuller from way back, having competed for Britain in the Little America's Cup and has been covering the America's Cup since 1967.
He writes: Dear Diary – Day 3 - America's Cup World Series - Plymouth, England
The technology surrounding the AC World Series never ceases to amaze. And it’s not just the technology associated with the boats, but that which concerns the racing. Electronic positioning of the boats, marks and course limits has been the concern of Stan Honey from the outset and there is no one better qualified to deal with all the problems.
Stan is not only an expert in telemetric positioning but a supremely talented navigator (ABN Amro in the Volvo Ocean Race is only one of his successes) who was elected Rolex US Yachtsman of the Year. His 'First Down Line' for American Football is considered an essential for the television coverage of that sport as are his hockey puck and positioning of the cars around a NASCAR track.
Faced with AC-45 racing, Stan has to deal with not only television graphics but information for the race committee and umpires. To enable this to be of sufficient resolution, the boats have to be positioned to within two centimetres ten times a second and within one hundredth of a degree of attitude – and that goes for the helicopters used for the television cameras as well.
From this, the positioning information relative to both the course limits and the three-boat length circles around the marks are relayed to each of the competing boats, which can also indicate the initiation of protests. Fouls can be observed by two umpires sitting in a booth ashore with access to all the electronic information, who are in contact with the umpires on the water able to judge other aspects of incidents.
This is very definitely sailing to numbers.
The number that means the most is One, or more strictly, first, and in the six seeding races for the match racing in Plymouth, Terry Hutchinson with Artemis Racing has scored four out of six. It has been a phenomenal performance and may reflect well on the team’s new tactician, Iain Percy. The double Olympic gold medallist has, according to Hutchinson, re-energised the team which has finished top, six points clear of second placed Emirates Team New Zealand.
The first of today’s three races, of 40 minutes duration saw Artemis lead from a perfectly timed start. After the downwind leg, ETNZ went for the left-hand gate and move temporarily into the lead but at the weather mark Artemis claimed the inside overlap and gained on the second downwind leg. ETNZ maintained the pressure to the end and finished just three seconds in arrears with Loick Peyron and Energy Team taking third place.
The next two races were shorter, just 20 minutes each. The first of them was a 'Big Boys' race with Artemis leading ETNZ and Jimmy Spithill in Oracle Racing 4 spearheading the fleet. This time Artemis was 32 seconds clear and Spithill was five seconds behind Dean Barker.
The final race saw a resurgence in form by Russell Coutts. After a third and four fifth places, the old master bolted from the start and took the right-hand side on the second leg to establish a lead that was never challenged to finish 47 seconds clear of the fleet. Unsurprisingly Artemis was second ahead of China Team.
Artemis now has a bye into the semi-finals of the match racing – until Saturday morning. The other eight teams will slug it out – fifth to ninth battle for one place and the winner will meet Artemis in one semi, while ETNZ will meet Oracle 5 (Coutts) in the other. Plenty left to play for.