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Fisher's View- Day 1 ACWS San Francisco - Short sharp early Matches

by Bob Fisher on 23 Aug 2012
Ben Ainslie put his considerable match racing skills to good use to beat fellow 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, Nathan Outteridge helming Team Korea in both matches on Day 2 ACEA - Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

Bob Fisher, one of the world's top international yachting journalists, and certainly the top writer on the America's Cup, is in San Francisco, CA, USA for the sixth round of the America's Cup World Series.

Bob is a multihuller from way back, having won the 1967 Little America's Cup, with Peter Schneidau on Lady Helmsman, and has been covering the America's Cup since 1967.

He writes:

Dear Diary – Day 1 - America's Cup World Series - San Francisco, CA, USA

The opening day of the ACWS for 2012/2013 on the 161st anniversary of the race around the Isle of Wight that started the competition that we now know as the America's Cup, was one of very short match races on San Francisco Bay. Three matches - first to two wins - were held and the projected time for each was 13 minutes.

The organisation was slick and before the third race in each round had been completed, the next round had begun. The winners progressed to join the top five seeds in the quarter-finals, which will be held as single matches over the next two days, prior to the fleet racing. The semi-finals will be on Saturday and the final on Sunday before the massively points-laden fleet race.

If these were pointers to the possible excitement, their scorelines belie their potential. All three matches were decided in two races, and maybe the first two away, each of which involved a Luna Rossa team, were one-sided, but one would not have said that of the Team Korea versus JP Morgan BAR match - the battle of the gold medallists, Nathan Outteridge and Ben Ainslie.

Forgive a possible bias, but JP Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie Racing) never looked like losing. There had been the warning from Russell Coutts that Ben had 'kicked my butt' in an earlier training match, and he had repeated the treatment on Tuesday. Outteridge, however, had the greater experience of racing an AC45 and that showed in the starts, both of which he won to lead around the first mark.

In the first race, Team Korea executed a gybe-set and went off into the middle of the Bay while BAR bore away, set a gennaker and sped towards the shore before gybing. The two were close for the first run to the leeward mark but after a short beat the two were overlapped going into the windward gate with BAR on the leeward side on starboard tack.

Ainslie is an aggressive match racer (a former world champion in this discipline) and he luffed hard and frequently, eventually imposing a penalty on the Team Korea boat from the umpires. It gave the British skipper the advantage he needed to win this match comfortably.

Meanwhile Luna Rossa - Swordfish had defeated the China Team, and Luna Rossa - Piranha had much the better of Artemis - Red. The same results were true for the second round, thus eliminating China Team and Artemis - Red from further competition in the match racing.

When Outteridge won the second start for Team Korea and bore off at the first mark, Ainslie took advantage of a slow gennaker set by his opponent, gybed inside him and quickly set the BAR gennaker and sped off on a puff in the 16-20 knot breeze. BAR led at the leeward mark and remorselessly stretched away to record a second victory and a place in the quarter-finals, where the British team will meet Emirates Team New Zealand on Friday.


PS. Friday is full of promise. Apart from the match above, Coutts meets Energy Team.

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