Team New Zealand make it three, then lose
DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker was taking positives out of a negative as they dropped their first race to Oracle in another pulsating day of America's Cup action in San Francisco today.
Claiming a thrilling 28-second come-from-behind victory in the day's opening race the Kiwis were always behind Oracle in the second race, squeezing up close to eventually lose by five seconds.
Despite the loss, Team New Zealand remain in a strong position leading the series 3-1. They needed six more wins compared to Oracle's 10 to lift the cup.
Oracle required 10 wins in the race-to-nine competition because they were docked two points after being found guilty of cheating at an earlier regatta. Their win today effectively placed them on -1.
On the water today, Team New Zealand was sloppy by their own high standards, incurring a penalty in the first race and losing both starts.
Their jibing wasn't as fluid as normal as the winds got into the 20 knot range and tactically their work upwind in the second race negated what was clearly an area of advantage for them in boat speed.
That was especially disappointing after they had looked so strong on this leg earlier in the day.
"I guess the thing we take out of the second race is that we sailed a pretty average race and we were still pretty close at the end," Barker said.
"The Oracle guys sailed well today, they led around both mark ones, we did a good job in the first one to get back in front, the second one we could have done things a lot better than we did."
The racing showed how even these boats and crews were, a point that Barker had emphasised yesterday despite leading 2-0.
To share the second day at 1-all wasn't a disaster and the problems were fixable because they were as much their own doing as they were in Oracle's lift in performance.
"We are still very happy with the way the boats are going, we just have to eliminate the mistakes at the end," Barker said.
Naturally Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill was cock-a-hoop after getting back into the contest when he was staring down the barrel at 3-nil and having suffered the indignity of conceding a 47-seconds turnaround on the third leg of the third race when Team New Zealand were right on top of their tacking game.
"It feels good," Spithill said of getting off the mark.
"We were pretty fired up after the first one (today) because we had a great race and let it slip through the fingers.
"It was a real sign of strength from the guys being in a situation like that. Having lost three in a row and then to bounce back and win that one, especially going into the break tomorrow - it's a real confidence booster for the boys."
Spithill vowed to keep the fightback coming.
"We have to keep improving, that's the name of the game here. The team that can make the steps and really improve day-to-day is the team that will ultimately win."
Oracle were even talking about going out on the water tomorrow to practise on their day off. Team New Zealand want to do boat and crew maintenance after a draining couple of days.
Racing resumes on Wednesday morning (NZT) with two races set down.
The old boy got a bit of a breather today with Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton and Winston Macfarlane sharing grinding duties over the two America's Cup races.
The 56-year-old Dalton completed a demanding double-header in yesterday's stunning two wins over defenders Oracle. He was in action again in today's first race with Macfarlane taking over in the second.
Team New Zealand
Skipper/helmsman: Dean Barker (14), Tactician: Ray Davies (10), Wing Trimmer: Glenn Ashby (3), Trimmer: James Dagg (9), Bow: Adam Beashel (2), Pit: Jeremy Lomas (8), Pedestal 1: Chris Ward (7), Pedestal 2: Rob Waddell (11), Pedestal 3: Race 3 - Grant Dalton (6), Race 4 - Winston MacFarlane (4), Pedestal 4: Chris McAsey (5), Float/Grinder: Derek Saward (12)
Oracle Team USA
Skipper: Jimmy Spithill (9), Tactician: John Kostecki (11), Strategist: Tom Slingsby (10), Wing trimmer: Kyle Langford (8), Jib trimmer: Joe Newton (5), Off-side trimmer: Rome Kirby (4), Grinders: Shannon Falcone (1), Joe Spooner (2), Jono MacBeth (3), Gillo Nobili (6), Simeon Tienpont (7)
RACE THREE DATA
NZ won by 28 seconds
Course: 5 Legs/9.94 nautical miles
Total distance sailed: NZ – 11.8 NM, USA – 12.1 NM
Average Speed: NZ – 28.57 knots, USA – 28.62 knots
Top Speed: NZ – 42.25 knots, USA – 41.37 knots
Windspeed: Average – 16.8 knots, Peak – 19.3 knots
RACE FOUR DATA
US won by 5 seconds
Course: 5 Legs/9.94 nautical miles
Total distance sailed: USA – 11.7 NM, NZ – 11.7 NM
Average Speed: USA – 30.99 knots, NZ – 30.92 knots
Top Speed: USA – 45.97 knots, NZ – 44.98 knots
Windspeed: Average – 19.5 knots, Peak – 23.3 knots
- © Fairfax NZ News