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America's Cup Race 4 - Oracle takes one back

by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World team on 9 Sep 2013
08/09/2013 - San Francisco (USA,CA) - 34th America’s Cup - ORACLE Team USA vs Emirates Team New Zealand, Race Day 2 ACEA - Photo Gilles Martin-Raget
America’s Cup 2013 Race 4. Having lost three races in a row, Oracle Team USA had to win this one.

Closing on the start line Emirates Team New Zealand was a touch early and had to slow down, while behind them Spithill put his bow down heading to leeward.

Oracle won the start, accelerating faster, Spithill in command, on the short reach. Inside at the top mark, he pushed ETNZ very wide. Oracle led down wind, at one stage more than 160 metres ahead of their rivals.

At the leeward mark, a bad gybe from Oracle, with the wrong button pressed on the leeward daggerboard. Their lead shrunk rapidly, they were doing just 18 knots out of the gybe, and the Kiwis closed right up doing 30 knots out of theirs.

The distance between the boats was just a few metres, but NZ was pushed right, they did now have starboard advantage. At the cross Oracle lee--bowed their rivals, forcing the Kiwis right again.

When the two boats came back together, Oracle did not engage, they were pushing for speed. They were soon 150 metres ahead on the favoured left side of the course.

Wind speed up to 22-24 knots, Oracle were still just ahead half way up the beat. Oracle were sailing better than ETNZ in the heavier pressure.

Oracle heading inshore from the top mark, leading by 16 seconds and defending successfully down wind, though the Kiwis closed up. At mark four the Kiwis were behind by just five seconds, now the blast race to the finish and Oracle Team USA wins by eight seconds.

Relief on the USA boat as tactician John Kostecki high fived Spithill.

The two boats sailed along the foreshore in front of cheering crowds with chants of USA USA loud.

Dean Barker commented `They sailed a really good race. They were strong to the first mark and got good pressure from there, that we did not get and they held on well. It’s going to be a tight series. ‘

While the American camp is buoyed by this win, the sobering reality is that it was an almost perfect race from Oracle, but there were lots of errors from the Kiwis and the margin was just eight seconds.

With a score of Emirates Team New Zealand 3 and Oracle Team USA still -1, the crew on the defending boat are going to have to keep going very hard, if the next America’s Cup is to be sailed in US waters.

Race 6 and 7 are scheduled for Tuesday.

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