The veteran crew, led by skipper Jimmy Spithill, overcame a spectacular capsize in Fleet Race 5 and later won the Match Racing Championship of the event sailed on San Francisco Bay. The U.S. Coast Guard estimated the spectator fleet at 1,000 vessels, while tens of thousands of people lined the shore.
ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL beat Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) by 18 seconds in a race that was decided on the start line. With less than 10 seconds to the start, Spithill dove to leeward of Barker and luffed his New Zealand opponent so hard that Barker wound up tacking to port to avoid a penalty. Spithill sped onto the racecourse as Barker was circling around to start and led by 31 seconds at the first reach mark.
“There was a lot of time to go to the start and he was way too early. It was a matter of biding our time,” said Spithill, who is the youngest skipper to ever have won the America’s Cup. “Our coach, Philippe Presti, has done a lot of work with Ben (Ainslie), Russ (Coutts) and I, and we’ve really been out-starting the other teams in the match racing. Full credit to Philippe, he’s the one who got us to this level.”
“With about 10 seconds to go we didn’t do a good job protecting our position, and that was it,” said Barker. “There’s always an opportunity to get back into it in this style of racing and the guys ground away at it, but we ran out of runway to do anything.”
The result was impressive considering that one hour earlier ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL lay on its port side. During the first fleet race of the day, the fifth in the series, Spithill was in second at the first reach mark and turning downwind in a mighty puff of approximately 20 knots. Spithill’s bows dug in, the boat stood nearly vertical and then rolled onto its port side with the wingsail hitting the water.
None of the crew was injured in the incident, which forced them out of the race. They rebounded to place second in the day’s second fleet race.
“It was a bit of an eventful day for us, with the swim in the first race,” said Spithill. “I was really proud of the lads and our shore crew, our support team. They righted the boat and we got back into second race and got a second place. I’m very impressed with the team.”
Spithill advanced to the championship after beating Artemis Racing – White (Terry Hutchinson) in the semifinals, while Emirates Team New Zealand beat Artemis Racing – Red (Nathan Outteridge).
In the fleet racing championship, J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) continued its strong showing with a 4-1. Ainslie has the high score of 63 points followed by Artemis Racing – White with 52 points, Emirates Team New Zealand with 47 points and ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL with 39 points, in a tie with Artemis Racing – Red.
AC World Series San Francisco Fleet Racing Championship (After 6 of 7 races)
1. J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) 1-3-1-2-4-1 – 63 points
2. Artemis Racing – White (Terry Hutchinson) 10-2-2-1-3-3 – 52
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) 2-8-5-6-1-4 – 47
4. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (Jimmy Spithill) 8-1-6-5-DNF-2 – 39
5. Artemis Racing – Red (Nathan Outteridge) 4-4-4-4-9-8 – 39
6. Energy Team (Loick Peyron) 6-7-7-3-6-7 – 36
7. Team Korea (Peter Burling) 5-9-10-8-2-5 – 33
8. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS (Russell Coutts) 3-5-8-7-8-10 – 31
9. Luna Rossa Piranha (Chris Draper) 9-6-3-10-10-6 – 28
10. China Team (Phil Robertson) 7-10-11-9-5-11 – 19
11. Luna Rossa Swordfish (Iker Martinez) 11-11-9-11-7-9 – 14
AC World Series San Francisco Match Racing Championship
1. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL, 2. Emirates Team New Zealand, 3. Artemis Racing – White, 4. Artemis Racing – Red, 5. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS, 6. Energy Team, 7. J.P. Morgan BAR, 8. Team Korea, 9. China Team, 10. Luna Rossa Piranha, 11. Luna Rossa Swordfish
Photo Credit: Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA
– PR –