Update Thursday: Links to follow today’s coverage live right here.
Update: Team New Zealand wins Race 11, leaving it one short of Cup glory, such as it is. New Zealand finished 0:14.8 ahead of Team USA. The second race has been postponed because the wind was exceeding the 20-knot limit, so they’re done for the day.
You can watch a video replay of today’s race here:
The next two races are scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, though the second race is now an “if necessary” affair.
Apropos of the do-or-die nature of tomorrow’s sailing, this whistling-in-a-graveyard remark by Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill, uttered after the race today, is drawing some derision over Twitter.
Jimmy Spithill, Oracle skipper: “It’s not over; it’s a long way from over” Best not to look at the scoreboard then: 8-1 Team New Zealand
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) September 18, 2013
You may have noticed by now that Kiwis are not taking the regatta with the same mixture of curiosity-bordering-on-apathy that the American public is. From the New Zealand Herald report on today’s victory:
One more race to win. One Cup to win. One nation one step away from winning the right to relax and contemplate the new ownership of the America’s Cup…
If there was such a thing as a national heart monitor, it would have measured a dangerously upward spike in New Zealand’s pulse rate this morning as ETNZ skipper Dean Barker played a clever cat and mouse game to win the start; they headed round the downwind mark six seconds faster after Oracle pulled off a fine forced right turn – a difficult manoeuvre – to stay in touch. Full report
Here’s AP’s account of today’s action:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Emirates Team New Zealand won Race 11 of the America’s Cup by 15 seconds Wednesday to close within one victory of taking the oldest trophy in international sports from powerhouse Oracle Team USA.
The Kiwis took an 8-1 lead and had the chance to win the Auld Mug later Wednesday afternoon in Race 12. Oracle Team USA, owned by software tycoon Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp., was docked two points going into the match following the biggest cheating scandal in the 162-year history of the America’s Cup.
Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker controlled rival Jimmy Spithill at the start and led the whole way, building his lead on the crucial upwind third leg toward the Golden Gate Bridge.
Oracle had been sailing better on the course’s only upwind leg but couldn’t quite reel in the Kiwis on Wednesday. Team New Zealand led by 6 seconds at the second gate mark and extended it to 17 seconds at the third gate as it rounded back onto the downwind leg.
The Kiwis watched their lead of about 200 meters shrink to around 70 meters as the boats raced downwind on their foils, their hulls completely out of the water.
Neither crew had a good rounding of the fourth gate, yet the Kiwis sprinted first down the final reaching leg to the finish off America’s Cup Park on Pier 27-29. As usual, there were hundreds of flag-waving New Zealanders cheering them on.
The race began in about 17 knots of wind blowing against a 2-knot tide flowing out to sea. Racing was postponed Tuesday because of strong winds blowing against the ebb tide.
Barker was at the helm in 2003 when hard-luck Team New Zealand was swept in five races by its former skipper, Russell Coutts, and Alinghi of Switzerland. The Kiwis had to drop out of two races with breakdowns.
Three years earlier, after Coutts had delivered Team New Zealand to a 4-0 lead over Italy’s Luna Rossa, he handed the wheel to Barker for the final race, which the Kiwis easily won.
Coutts is now CEO of Oracle Team USA. In 1995, Coutts and the late Peter Blake led Team New Zealand to a 5-0 win over Dennis Conner off San Diego as the small island national claimed the Cup for the first time.
Now Barker needs just one more victorious sprint around San Francisco Bay to reclaim the silver trophy for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.