Oracle Team USA Spithill showed the resiliency today at America’s Cup World Series San Francisco that is the mark of a great team.
The veteran crew, led by skipper Jimmy Spithill, overcame a spectacular capsize in Fleet Race 5 and later won the Match Racing Championship of the event sailed on San Francisco Bay. The U.S. Coast Guard estimated the spectator fleet at 1,000 vessels, while tens of thousands of people lined the shore.
Oracle Team USA Spithill beat Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) by 18 seconds in a race that was decided on the start line. With less than 10 seconds to the start, Spithill dove to leeward of Barker and luffed his New Zealand opponent so hard that Barker wound up tacking to port to avoid a penalty. Spithill sped onto the racecourse as Barker was circling around to start and led by 31 seconds at the first reach mark.
'There was a lot of time to go to the start and he was way too early. It was a matter of biding our time,' said Spithill, who is the youngest skipper to ever have won the America’s Cup. 'Our coach, Philippe Presti, has done a lot of work with Ben (Ainslie), Russ (Coutts) and I, and we’ve really been out-starting the other teams in the match racing. Full credit to Philippe, he’s the one who got us to this level.'
'With about 10 seconds to go we didn’t do a good job protecting our position, and that was it,' said Barker. 'There’s always an opportunity to get back into it in this style of racing and the guys ground away at it, but we ran out of runway to do anything.'
The result was impressive considering that one hour earlier Oracle Team USA Spithill lay on its port side. During the first fleet race of the day, the fifth in the series, Spithill was in second at the first reach mark and turning downwind in a mighty puff of approximately 20 knots. Spithill’s bows dug in, the boat stood nearly vertical and then rolled onto its port side with the wingsail hitting the water.
None of the crew was injured in the incident, which forced them out of the race. They rebounded to place second in the day’s second fleet race.
'It was a bit of an eventful day for us, with the swim in the first race,' said Spithill. 'I was really proud of the lads and our shore crew, our support team. They righted the boat and we got back into second race and got a second place. I’m very impressed with the team.'
Spithill advanced to the championship after beating Artemis Racing – White (Terry Hutchinson) in the semifinals, while Emirates Team New Zealand beat Artemis Racing – Red (Nathan Outteridge).
In the fleet racing championship, J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) continued its strong showing with a 4-1. Ainslie has the high score of 63 points followed by Artemis Racing – White with 52 points, Emirates Team New Zealand with 47 points and Oracle Team USA Spithill with 39 points, in a tie with Artemis Racing – Red.
The Super Sunday fleet race finale is scheduled tomorrow and will be broadcast nationally in the U.S. by NBC beginning at 1:30 pm PDT. The broadcast will include a replay of the match racing championship followed by the seventh and final fleet race, scheduled for 1:55 pm PDT.
Sail-World: Weird as it may seem , there were other boats sailing on this race-day other than Oracle Team USA Spithill.
After a delay of 25 minutes while officials cleared spectator boats for Fleet Week off the course, racing got underway in a fresh breeze blowing down the course from the Golden Gate Bridge
In the first fleet race, Emirates Team NZ (Dean Barker) got away to a very good start, right on the line with pace, in complete contrast to their hesitant starting in both the fleet races on Friday. The capsize of USA's Spithill, and consequent scattering of the fleet to create a gap for the pitchpoling series leader, Dean Barker and his crew got away to a good break and were never seriously threatened.
Sailing the race of his life was 21year old Peter Burling in Team Korea, who held onto second place throughout and enjoyed a moderately comfortable margin over Artemis racing - Hutchinson in third with the Oracle financed Ben Ainslie Racing recovering well to finish fourth. China Team also sailed exceptionally to finish fifth overall - easily their best race of the series.
Disappointments of the race were Oracle Team USA- Coutts who never really got out of the back of the fleet, and the two Luna Rossa teams who finished seventh and tenth.
Spithill recovered for the second race and was back to his old form. Barker again showed hesitancy on the startline and paid the penalty being back in the van of the fleet and having to stage yet another climb to through the ranks to effect some damage control on the leader board. Ainslie yet again led from the front with a 50 metre lead from Artemis -Hutchinson, and Spithill back in fourth. At the top mark, for the second time Ainslie stretched his lead to over 200 metres, with Artemis still in second, Spithill in third and Team Korea's Peter Burling, sailing in just his sixth ACWS race in fourth. At the finish Spithill amazingly got through to second after a penalty at the top mark for a port and starboard incident with Dean Barker. Burling dropped back to fifth. USA-Coutts was back in 10th place ahead of China Team.
Luna Rossa improved to take sixth and ninth positions but still lie well back on the fleet racing points table.
AC World Series San Francisco Fleet Racing Championship (After 6 of 7 races) 1. J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) 1-3-1-2-4-1 – 63 points 2. Artemis Racing – White (Terry Hutchinson) 10-2-2-1-3-3 – 52 3. Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) 2-8-5-6-1-4 – 47 4. Oracle Team USA Spithill (Jimmy Spithill) 8-1-6-5-DNF-2 – 39 5. Artemis Racing – Red (Nathan Outteridge) 4-4-4-4-9-8 – 39 6. Energy Team (Loick Peyron) 6-7-7-3-6-7 – 36 7. Team Korea (Peter Burling) 5-9-10-8-2-5 – 33 8. Oracle Team USA Coutts (Russell Coutts) 3-5-8-7-8-10 – 31 9. Luna Rossa Piranha (Chris Draper) 9-6-3-10-10-6 – 28 10. China Team (Phil Robertson) 7-10-11-9-5-11 – 19 11. Luna Rossa Swordfish (Iker Martinez) 11-11-9-11-7-9 – 14
AC World Series San Francisco Match Racing Championship 1. Oracle Team USA Spithill, 2. Emirates Team New Zealand, 3. Artemis Racing – White, 4. Artemis Racing – Red, 5. Oracle Team USA Coutts, 6. Energy Team, 7. J.P. Morgan BAR, 8. Team Korea, 9. China Team, 10. Luna Rossa Piranha, 11. Luna Rossa Swordfish by America's Cup Media