America’s Cup : Emirates Team New Zealand on precipice of winning 34th trophy

Emirates Team New Zealand’s wire-to-wire win in Race 11 moved the challenger to match point in the 34th America’s Cup against defender ORACLE TEAM USA.

About 38 minutes later, as the two crews were jockeying for position on the start line of Race 12, the race committee postponed the sequence because the wind strength had exceeded the prescribed 20-knot limit, forcing the Kiwis to wait until tomorrow for a chance to close out the series.

Emirates Team New Zealand leads ORACLE TEAM USA 8-1 on the scoreboard, with the winner the first to score 9 points. The Kiwis need just one more victory to win the America’s Cup for the third time (1995, 2000), while ORACLE TEAM USA needs to win eight consecutive races to defend the trophy it won in 2010.

“It’s not over; it’s a long way from over,” said ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill. “Both teams would’ve liked to sail the second race, but Iain (Murray, Regatta Director) has to stick by the limits that are set.”

Race 11 didn’t feature the breathtaking back-and-forth lead changes that were a hallmark of Sunday’s Race 10, but it was every bit as exciting for the close-quarter action. Emirates Team New Zealand led at all four mark roundings – by 3, 6, 17 and 18 seconds – before settling for a 15-second victory.

Barker did a good job in the pre-start, setting up to leeward of ORACLE TEAM USA. Both crews were late to the start line, mainly because Barker was holding the match up, slowing the defender until he was ready to rip onto the racecourse.

The 3-nautical-mile upwind leg again proved pivotal to the match. The Kiwis began the leg with a 6-second advantage, but ORACLE TEAM USA once again attacked. The two crews traded 10 tacks on the leg, but the Kiwis fended off every advance with covering tactics and solid boatspeed.

On the run to the final turning mark ORACLE TEAM USA closed up to Emirates Team New Zealand’s transom, but the Kiwis were able to sail a low course to round the mark, albeit at very slow speeds, while the defender had to put in two maneuvers to get around the mark. That gave the challenger enough breathing room on the final leg to the finish.

“Every win here is so hard, they’re monumental battles, so you’re thankful for every win you get,” said Barker. “We had a bit of an idea how to attack it and it worked out as well as it could have. We had a nice little jump, sailed a good first run, at the bottom mark another split and backwards and forwards after that. We were happy to sneak away with another win.”

Emirates Team New Zealand gets two chances tomorrow to close out the series. Race 12 is scheduled to start at 1:15 pm PT, followed by Race 13 (if necessary) at 2:15 pm PT. The wind is forecast to be similar to today, light to moderate for the first race and building for the second race. The lighter conditions seem to suit the Kiwis more than ORACLE TEAM USA.

“The boat seems to go well in a breeze, that’s obvious,” said Spithill. “But I think we can still win races in the light stuff. We’re looking hard every night at what we can do. We’d love to get on with the racing, but we’ve got those wind limits and have to obey them. Whatever the conditions are we’ll go into it 100 percent.”

34th America’s Cup Standings (first to 9 points wins)

  • Emirates Team New Zealand – 8

Race 11 Performance Data

  • Course: 5 Legs/10.16 nautical miles
  • Elapsed Time: ETNZ – 23:41, OTUSA – 23:56
  • Delta: ETNZ +:15
  • Total distance sailed: ETNZ – 11.7 NM, OTUSA – 11.5 NM
  • Average Speed: ETNZ – 29.88 knots (34 mph), OTUSA – 29.04 knots (33 mph)
  • Top Speed: ETNZ – 44.57 knots (51 mph), OTUSA – 42.70 knots (49 mph)
  • Windspeed: Average – 15.4 knots, Peak – 18.0 knots
  • Number of Tacks/Jibes: ETNZ – 10/6, OTUSA – 10/8

Tags on NauticNews: America’s Cup, AC72

Photo Credit: ACEA / Gilles Martin-Raget

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