Oracle deny Team New Zealand once again
DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Oracle showed stunning speed off the line to set up another win over Team New Zealand and continue their relentless America's Cup comeback.
Oracle marched away to a 33-seconds victory today.
That was Oracle's fifth win in a row while Team New Zealand have been stalled on match point.
Team New Zealand still lead 8-6 on the points table - Oracle need three wins to New Zealand's one.
The second race of the day was postponed because of the time schedule, despite a better breeze building.
All momentum is with the defenders. And it seems the crucial speed element is there as well.
Dean Barker had first rights into the starting box to set up well. Jimmy Spithill hung to the windward side of Team New Zealand and when the star gun went, he simply put his foot down.
The acceleration in such light airs was alarming from Oracle - it was like a turbo-charger had been hit and they dashed across the top of the Kiwis, throwing dirty air on them and leading by five seconds at the first mark.
That was effectively the race there and then.
Team New Zealand were down by about 200m and just couldn't eat into it.
Team New Zealand had their code zero gennaker up on the first downwind run but that couldn't help their boat speed at all.
They made a bit of a gain with a jibe to the left to make a split but when they rounded the bottom mark Oracle's lead had extended to 13sec.
Team New Zealand still looked to have an edge in yesterday's upwind leg but they couldn't eat into Oracle's lead on the beat today.
They tried to engage Oracle in tacking duels on either side of the wide course but couldn't find anything to really help them.
They rounded the top mark 19sec in arrears and with a split there, it was New Zealand's last roll of the dice.
But again, nothing happened for them, with Oracle covering their every move down the bottom half of the course.
Oracle rounded the last mark 21sec in the lead and extended that to the finish line.
Team New Zealand have now spent six days on match point.
Their last win was last Thursday and they have just had one win in the last 10 days.
"We have got a huge wave of momentum now," Spithill said.
"That was a very tough time in the starting box but we have worked hard trying to figure out a couple of plays and that one went nicely."
Barker cut a despondent figure on board Aotearoa afterwards, conceding having the code zero up probably didn't help them get away quickly.
This was the fourth start in a row that New Zealand have lost.
"We were reasonably happy with where we were on the (start) line ... it's frustrating," Barker said.
"The Oracle guys sailed a fairly flawless race. We sailed well to get back into it ... but not enough today."
Regatta director Iain Murray confirmed there wasn't enough time to get a second ace in before the start deadline of 2.40pm (local time).
It wasn't a matter of the teams not wanting to race, but TV schedules and local harbour rules intervened again.
Murray predicted much stronger winds tomorrow with a flood tide that will help extend the upper wind limit of 23 knots.
Oracle will have first entry into the starting box tomorrow.
- Fairfax Media