The crew came into the final regatta of the 2011-12 ACWS season with a chance to win overall honors of the inaugural season. Assured a place on the podium, all that remains is to clinch the title. Tomorrow they’ll also have a chance to win the match and fleet racing championships for Newport.
“We’re always trying to improve as a team,” said Spithill. “Every day we go back and review the racing with Philippe (Presti, coach) and try to improve. We made a few mistakes in the second race today, but in the end we’ll be stronger for it.
“The end result is always with an eye towards the 2013 America’s Cup, but we’re here to wrap-up the first ACWS World Series. Tomorrow we’ve got an opportunity to do that, and we’re excited for it,” Spithill said.
Spithill leads the ACWS – Newport Fleet Racing Championship, 6 points ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand. Tomorrow’s fleet race finale offers bonus points, opening the possibility for many of the teams to win.
Before the final fleet race ORACLE TEAM USA’s two boats will contest the ACWS – Newport Match Racing Championship. Spithill will square off against team CEO Russell Coutts, the four-time America’s Cup winner, in what should be an enthralling winner-take-all race.
“It’s great that ORACLE TEAM USA will win the match racing championship in Newport,” said Spithill, who stoked the fire of in-house rivalry among the crews. “But I want to beat Coutts for bragging rights. The last thing I want is to have to listen to Russell telling me how he beat me.”
ORACLE TEAM USA is developing two world-class crews for its defense of the America’s Cup in 2013, but tomorrow Spithill might take care to look out for Coutts on the racecourse. At the opening press conference Coutts warned the other skippers to watch out for him on the racecourse because he hadn’t raced an AC45 since September.
He should’ve warned the mark boat operators as well. In the first fleet race Coutts collided with the anchor of one of the mark boats and damaged his port side shroud and daggerboard. “I think we gave the guy on the bow a real scare,” said Coutts.
The ORACLE TEAM USA shore team scrambled into action trying to affect a repair for the second fleet race, but ultimately the race committee advised the start line had been closed.
“The shore team did a fantastic job, but just needed about 10 more minutes,” said Coutts. “We’ll pull the boat out of the water and check it overnight to make sure there’s no structural damage.”
Today began with the eight crews at ACWS – Newport contesting the speed trials. Sailed over a straight-line course of 500 meters, each crew was permitted two attempts on the course with their best speed recorded.
Sailing in winds around 15 knots, Spithill blitzed his second run in 39.22 seconds for a top speed of 24.77 knots. “ORACLE TEAM USA Boat 5 has dominated the speed trials, so it’s nice to get one back on them,” said Spithill.
Boat No. 5 still holds the speed trial record of 36.16 seconds and a top speed of 26.87 knots, set in San Diego last November.
2011-12 ACWS – Newport Fleet Racing Championship
Team (Country) R1-R2-R3-R4 — Total Points
1. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (USA) 1-1-1-3 — 38
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 6-2-3-1 — 32
3. Energy Team (FRA) 5-4-7-2 — 26
4. Artemis Racing (SWE) 4-3-4-7 — 26
5. Team Korea (KOR) 8-6-2-4 — 24
6. Luna Rossa Piranha (ITA) 3-8-5-5 — 23
7. Luna Rossa Swordfish (ITA) 7-5-6-6 — 20
8. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS (USA) 2-7-DNF-DNF – 13
(Scoring: 1st place = 10 points, 2nd = 9, 3rd = 8, 4th = 7, 5th = 6, 6th = 5, 7th = 4, 8th = 3)
ACWS – Newport Speed Trials
1. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL –24.77 knots/39.22 seconds
2. Energy Team – 24.00/40.48
3. Team Korea – 23.79/40.83
4. Artemis Racing – 23.72/40.96
5. Luna Rossa Swordfish – 23.59/41.18
6. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS – 23.54/41.27
7. Luna Rossa Piranha – 23.48/41.37
8. Emirates Team New Zealand – 23.17/41.93
Photo Credit: Guilain Grenier
– PR –