ORACLE TEAM USA had a roller coaster day on the water Friday, Aug. 24, during Day 2 of racing in the America’s Cup World Series in San Francisco. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS opened with a match racing win, but was later forced to withdraw from the fleet races after a collision with the committee boat. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL bounced back from a middle-of-the-pack first fleet race to win the second and hold on to the top position on the leaderboard.
Skipper Russell Coutts and crew took a controlling position off the start in the second of two match races on the day, defeating Energy Team to build upon a successful first day in San Francisco. It was the second round of racing – the fleet races – when emotions shifted. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS was left without a gap across the start line in the first fleet race, forcing a head-on collision with a race committee boat.
“We started the day well, but we lost points today,” Coutts said. “We thought there would be a gap opening up, but we didn’t expect our teammates to shut the door on us and we had a collision with the committee boat. So, we’ll pull the boat out, do some repairs and get back out there tomorrow.
“The front foot of the hull has to be replaced and there’s a few other bits of rigging that got damaged,” said Coutts. “The problem with a collision like that is you don’t know what other stress has been put on the boat. So, the boat builders are looking at it.”
ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL sailed an “ordinary” first fleet race, according to skipper Jimmy Spithill, and finished sixth. For the start of the second race, the crew was early across the line to force a penalty turn.
Despite the penalty, Spithill remained in contention and was vying for second by the third leg on the race course. The turnaround continued as they moved ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand on the fifth leg and opened up a gap on the fleet. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL crossed the line in first with a time of 21:27, 15 seconds ahead of second-place Team Korea and holds on to the top spot on the leaderboard.
“The second race we broke the start – my fault – then it was just a matter of staying cool, making good decisions, and slightly chipping away,” Spithill said. “We made some really good decisions around the race track, pulled off maneuvers well, and JK [John Kostecki] sailed a fantastic race – full credit to him in that second race to get us up there. To come back from that and win a race is a real sign of strength, and it gives us a lot of confidence moving forward.”
Spithill described the start of the second fleet race and the Coutts collision: “We didn’t see them, and we thought we’d be locked out by the French team. Right at the last second, they opened the door and we had to hold up or we would have been early. Then with about 3 to go, we look up and hear this bang. It’s a real shame.”
Team (Country): R1, R2, R3, R4 (PTS) – Total
- ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (USA): 2 (10), 1 (12), 6 (6), 1 (12) – 39
- Team Korea (KOR): 7 (5), 4 (8), 4 (8), 2 (10) – 31
- Luna Rossa Piranha (ITA): 3 (9), 8 (4), 2 (10), 5 (7) – 30
- Energy Team (FRA): 4 (8), 7 (5), 3 (9), 7 (5) – 27
- Artemis Racing White (SWE): 5 (7), 3 (9), 6 (6), 9 (3) – 25
- Artemis Racing Red (SWE): 6 (6), 2 (10), 8 (4), 8 (4) – 24
- Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL): 8 (4), 9 (3), 5 (7), 3 (9) – 23
- Luna Rossa Swordfish (ITA): 9 (3), 10 (2), 1 (12), 6 (6) – 23
- J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR): 10 (2), 5 (7), 9 (3), 4 (8) – 20
- ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS (USA): 1 (12), 6 (6), DNF, DNS – 18
- China Team (CHN): 11 (1), 11 (1), 10 (2), 10 (2) – 6
(Scoring: 1st place = 12 points, 2nd = 10, 3rd = 9, 4th = 8, 5th = 7, 6th = 6, 7th = 5, 8th = 4, 9th = 3, 10th = 2, 11th = 1)
MATCH RACING QUARTERFINALS – AUGUST 24
Match 1: Emirates Team New Zealand d. J.P. Morgan Ben Ainslie Racing
Match 2: ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS d. Energy Team
Photo Credit: Gilles Martin-Raget
– PR –