Yacht racing has a way of producing surprises, but nothing, absolutely nothing, beats competence. The second day’s racing adequately displayed the amount of talent that abounds at the 34th America’s Cup. It is so close that the bookmakers must be rubbing their hands as the lead changes in a less-than-regular fashion.
Each team won a race, but neither was totally dominant in all respects. There were flashes of extra speed and some exciting tactical decisions but the overall strategy depends on the start and the first short reach, at least according to Oracle skipper, Jimmy Spithill: 'Get to Mark 1 in the lead and then you can control your destiny.'
This he amply demonstrated in the second race of the day when with perfectly judged time-on-distance, he placed Oracle Team USA right on the line at the gun from 40 seconds back. The AC-72 was up to full speed and had the inside berth for the mark. Spithill started the second leg with a six second advantage.
From there it could have been easy, but that was far from the case. The Kiwis are battlers and Emirates Team New Zealand played every card in their hand in their attempt to redress the balance, but while earlier they had shown an edge in speed upwind, in the near-limit conditions, with the wind at 21knots from the west-south-west it was more even and OTUSA had stretched the lead at the weather gate to 16 seconds.
Chase as they might – and they did – the Kiwis could only close the gap slightly and OTUSA crossed the line to rapturous local cheering, just eight seconds in front after 22 minutes 42 seconds, to level the day’s scores.
The first race of the day was a more memorable affair with penalties and lead changes to add interest. Dean Barker led off the start line but the Kiwi skipper didn’t give Oracle with an inside overlap, sufficient room to round the first mark and received a penalty that allowed the American boat to forge ahead on the run to the downwind gate where with an 18 second lead, the American boat came off the foils and buried her bows in a spectacular manner.
Barker, on good advice from tactician Ray Davies, split tacks with Spithill, going first towards Alcatraz Island. When the two boats met the gap had closed and after a couple of tacks the initiative was with Barker. Davies ensured that the strategy employed – using the slacker water off the City Front – to arrive at the weather gate 29 seconds ahead.
It was all over bar the shouting- OTUSA gained a second before the finish where the Kiwis were greeted with hundreds of their countrymen waving the national flag.
The score after the day’s racing is 3 – minus 1, which means that Oracle Team USA has to win ten races before Emirates Team New Zealand wins six. The next two races are scheduled to be held on Tuesday.
Replay Race 3 & 4
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by Bob Fisher - 11:51 PM Sun 8 Sep 2013 GMT
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2013 America's Cup
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