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America's Cup World Series: Day 3 - Live play by play reports from the Waitemata

by Ben Gladwell - Sail-World 18 Dec 2020 19:00 PST
Emirates Team New Zealand - America's Cup World Series - Day 3 - Waitemata Harbour - December 19, 2020 - 36th Americas Cup presented by Prada © Richard Gladwell /

Day 3's racing was a little slow to get underway today thanks to a lack of breeze. Auckland's two sea breezes, the south-westerly breeze battling the north-easter and creating an area of little wind in the convergence zone.

Racing has been shifted from Course C, where sailing has taken place for the last two days, a few miles to the north in the hopes that it will put the boat's in slightly more wind.

Race 9 - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli vs Ineos Team UK

Once the course marshalls had cleared the race track of spectators, racing got underway with Ineos and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli both have a fairly sedate pre-start and got away cleanly.

Luna Rossa had been tipped as the early favourites in these conditions, rumoured to be perhaps the quickest of all the crews in these conditions. They sailed away to a 30 second lead by the top mark and continued to extend on the first run. Ineos looked set to round the bottom mark about 45 seconds behind. They executed a disastrous final gybe and splashed down off the foils. There wasn’t anything visibly wrong, just a bad gybe. They spent the next minute sailing at 90 degrees to the mark to gain some speed, eventually gybing back and rounding the mark 2:41 behind.

Meanwhile Luna Rossa smoked off upwind, sailing with the bow just barely clearing the water and roaring towards the top mark. Mercifully, this race was shortened to five legs. Ineos was completely unable to foil upwind, ending up a whole leg behind and indeed almost being lapped by Luna Rossa before the Italian crew crossed the finish line.

Race 10 - Emirates Team New Zealand vs American Magic

Some expert time on distance from ETNZ saw them just sneak inside the pin at the start with American Magic mid line and with some good leverage over the Kiwis.

The boats split courses on the first beat with little between the two, ETNZ rounding 11 seconds in arrears. Again the boats picked different sides of the course.

The left hand side of the course looked to be paying with the left hand boat always making gains as the two AC75s sailed the width of the course from boundary to boundary to minimize manoeuvres. Barker seems to have abandoned his strategy of staying between his man and the mark, content to let Burling go wherever he wanted. This proved costly for the American crew, Burling gaining on the favoured eastern side of the course and forcing American Magic to dip.

Bad became worse for Barker, butchering his lay-line tack and slipping off the foils. He and his crew went from being within a boat length of the Kiwis to 54 seconds at the mark.

Once the Kiwis got clear, they put a further two seconds on American Magic on the run, and set off around the bottom mark towards their favoured side of the course on the Rangitoto shore. Again Burling and crew found their third-lap pace and stretched out to a lead of more than 1,000m or 1:19 at the finish.

Race 11 - American Magic vs Ineos Team UK

Life didn’t improve for Ineos in their second race of the day. Starting slightly better than American Magic, they had earned a penalty for entering the start box early. Shortly after the start, when Chief Umpire Richard Slater called Ben Ainslie on race radio to remind them that they must complete a penalty, in an apparent admission of defeat, Ainslie replied “Don’t worry, Richard, it (the penalty) will come off on it’s own soon”.

More issues completing foiling manoeuvres for Ineos handed American Magic an enormous lead early in the race, leading by 1:15 at the first bottom mark.

Foiling issues was the theme of this race, Ineos dropped back to almost 3:30 by the next bottom mark. American Magic, seemingly keen to make a race of it, fell of the foils themselves and took an agonising amount of time to get rumbling again, powerless but to watch their lead plumet from 2,500m to 1,200m.

American Magic eventually got home in front, but Ineos took their time and earning their third DNF of the regatta.

Race 12 - Emirates Team New Zealand vs Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

This, the last race of the round robin phase, was sailed in breezes approaching the bottom of the wind limits yet neither boat opted for the code zero.

Jimmy Spithill took it to Peter Burling in the prestart, forcing ETNZ to do an extra tack while he and Luna Rossa sailed off across the start line jumping out to a 220m lead.

Luna Rossa held ETNZ at bay, retaining their lead all the way to the top mark. ETNZ made the top mark a painful affair to watch. Having attempted to sail a very thin layline, they fell off the foils and struggled to get going again, handing Luna Rossa a 720m lead. Jimmy Spithill looked to have cut the Kiwi’s lunch once again, when half way down the course, Luna Rossa did the couldn't execute a foiling gybe, giving the kiwis a chance to pull them back. Luna Rossa foundered near the bottom of the course, stuck in very light winds in the bottom left corner of the course, struggling to get the speedo to register double digits - meanwhile ETNZ ripped past them at 30+ knots.

By the time the Italians got foing again, the New Zealand syndicate was out to a 400m lead - plenty of drama for just two legs of yachting.

The race officers seemed to agree, declaring that the race would finish at the bottom of the next run.

The next beat was by far the most intense sailing we have seen between two of these boats thus far. The boats were matching tacks, sailing very close together in marginal foiling conditions. Both skippers attempting to pressure the other crew into a mistake, whoever would slip first would win the regatta.

ETNZ made a brilliant layline call, needing to do one fewer tack before the top mark and sneaking through the gate ahead. One sub-optimal gybe from Luna Rossa, slightly touching down let ETNZ sneak out to a lead of 200m - still well within the one-mistake-zone. Spithill kept it close all the way to the finish, crossing just 16 seconds behind the New Zealand crew.

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