The Semi Finals and Finals of the I-14 Class Global Team Race Challenge were staged today in Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda.
Following yesterday's round robin, the United States, who won the round robin, were up against Switzerland, who finished fourth yesterday, and runners up Great Britain A were matched against third placed Canada.
In the first semi final pair, the United States made seemingly easy work of their match and dispatched the Swiss 2-0. The Swiss team, augmented by one boat from Great Britain, gave a good fight but in the end had no answer for the boat speed of the Americans.
In the second contest, Great Britain won the first match but Canada rebounded to take the second. The racing was close all the way around the race course, and there were numerous confrontations and yells of protest within yards of the finish line. The breeze was shifty and leads changed constantly, with the result that the match was forced to the 'sudden death' final race. Canada pulled out all the stops, and aided by a capsize by one of the British boats, managed to take the race and the series to face off against the United States.
The breeze continued to shift and move about as storm clouds rolled past and over the Harbour. The Race Committee had to do some wind chasing and finally things settled down enough to get the Finals underway. The first race started in 12 knots of breeze and the threat of more rain and further windshifts. The United States continued to display better boatspeed at times than their Canadian counterparts and while racing was close, they prevailed to make it USA-1 and Canada-0, 21 points to 15. The second race was a question of who got the advantage of the shifts first, as the wind continued to be the Race Chairman Charles Tatem's worst nightmare. The race got underway in a decent breeze direction, but by halfway through the breeze started to go hard left which resulted in the 'S' course being changed several times to accommodate. In the end, the Canadians fought through the adverse conditions, and the cover of the Americans, to take the second race 21 points to 15 and even up the series 1-1. A final showdown was set.
The third race was started, and immediately the wind went even further left, resulting in a one tack beat to the first mark. The Race Committee, and Chief Umpire Martin Smethers, had no choice but to abandon the race. As it turned out it was the last of the sailing for the day.
The huge stormcloud that forced the abandonment also had the effect of taking the breeze with it. After pulling up the whole course and several attempts to reset it in a dying breeze, racing was postponed to hopefully let the wind return and have a good final race. Despite waiting for several hours, and in fact venturing back out once more as a promise of a breeze started up, nothing returned to make for fair racing and in the end the day's racing was finally abandoned.
Unfortunately for the Canadians their chance ended with the breeze. As the finals were unable to be completed, and with no spare day to fall back on, the Americans emerged the victor using tiebreaker, based on their victory in the Round Robin series. Congratulations to the U.S.A. on their win.