Two days ago Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill, just one race away from losing the regatta, was mocked for saying, “It’s not over; it’s a long way from over.”
Well, Team USA lived to sail another day on Friday, with a lot of help from the wind, or lack of it. Team New Zealand finished way ahead of Oracle in the first race, but failed to complete the course within the 40-minute time limit. The result: an abandoned race. As the New Zealand Herald put it, the Kiwis “cruel residence on the precipice of America’s Cup ownership” was to continue.
While New Zealand may blame the elements, give some credit to Spithill. From AP:
The Kiwis might have beaten the time limit if not for a move by Spithill.
Barker went too deep in the starting box, allowing Spithill to take the favored leeward position off the start line. Normally it’s a sprint across the wind on the reaching first leg as the big cats pop onto their foils. But during the crawl to the first mark, Spithill pushed the Kiwis off course as far as he could before rounding the buoy.
In the second duel, Team USA extended the races into at least Saturday by finishing 01:24 ahead of New Zealand. From the New Zealand Herald’s account:
The Kiwis had time to raise New Zealand’s hopes yet again with a brilliant Dean Barker start in the re-run Race 13 – but lost out to Oracle’s speed downwind and their discovery of a wind shift or two. Team NZ also fell foul of a penalty after a close cross saw OTUSA have to take evasive action – but what really did the damage was Oracle doing 28 knots to Team New Zealand’s 22 in 12 knots of wind, gusting to 15.
The key was a rare New Zealand mistake at the bottom mark, electing to travel around a different mark from OTUSA to achieve a split upwind – but their gybe was so slow they lost too much ground, eventually losing the match by 1m 24s. Full article
The score is now 8-3, though it might have been 8-5 if Team USA had not been assessed a two-race penalty for cheating during the America’s Cup World Series in 2012. Oracle has won four of the last six races, but they’ll have to be perfect from here on out to catch the Kiwis, still just one race away from taking the Cup for the first time since 2000.
Update 3: Team USA has seized the early lead, with a penalty assessed to New Zealand adding to their advantage.
Update 2: Quite a turn of events. Team New Zealand had a huge lead but could not finish under the 40-minute time limit due to a lack of wind. So Oracle uses up another one of its nine lives, once again staving off defeat.
NBC’s announcers are using words like “speechless,” “unbelievable,” and “can’t feel worse for these guys.”
New Zealand tactician Ray Davies called the situation “a bit of a shame.”
The New Zealand Herald was a little less restrained:
It was like watching Ferraris race on flat tyres. The wind – which seemed to be building dangerously towards OTUSA’s comfort zone – suddenly dropped away to a measly 9 knots on a foggy San Francisco Bay …
Consider the cruel injustice of [New Zealand's loss]. They win by a street but the America’s Cup rules also include a maximum time limit as well as wind limits – and they couldn’t make it in time.
The score: still 8-2. The next race coming up in about 30 minutes.
In the meantime, more from the New Zealand Herald today:
- Oracle crew backs up Spithill’s fighting talk
- Ins and outs of port entry to the starting block
- Chasing Larry Ellison
Update: The wind is so light, apparently, it’s being called a “drifting contest,” with a time limit on the race now a factor. At Gate 3, Team USA is way behind but if the race isn’t completed under 40 minutes, it will be abandoned, which would hand Oracle a huge break. Team USA’s goal now: slow New Zealand down so they don’t finish on time.
Team New Zealand is now looking for the wind gods to help out on the downwind leg, but it’s not looking good.
The U.S. and New Zealand are back sailing today, with the U.S. squad once again facing elimination – as will be the case from now. The current score: 8-2, with 9 races needed for the win. Yesterday, Oracle staved off defeat by taking the first race, with the second contest cancelled due to high winds.
Two days ago, U.S. skipper Jimmy Spithill was mocked for saying, “It’s not over; it’s a long way from over,” after losing a race that left his squad one defeat away from elimination. We’ll see if that holds true today.
Team New Zealand will have port tack in the Race 13 pre-start and Team USA will be on port in Race 14.