Tens of thousands of race fans flocked to the shores of San Francisco Bay for the second day in a row and were treated to some of the most compelling America's Cup racing in the 162-year history of the event.
A crowd of some 45,000 people took in yesterday's racing from the America's Cup Park, at Piers 27/29, and America's Cup Village, at Marina Green. Thousands more lined other vantage points around the bay, and many of them returned today to see even more thrilling action, all spurred on by the wild AC72, the flying, foiling machine that can sail at speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour.
Defender ORACLE TEAM USA and challenger Emirates Team New Zealand split the two races. The Kiwis won the first by 28 seconds, overcoming a penalty and passing the defender in an exhausting tacking duel on the upwind leg. ORACLE TEAM USA rebounded to win the second race by a scant 8 seconds.
The Kiwis lead the series 3-0, but the win allowed ORACLE TEAM USA to put a halt to the Kiwis' winning streak and gives the defender a good feeling going into the off day.
Skipper Jimmy Spithill said he was disappointed that rival skipper Dean Barker led at the first mark in the first two races on Saturday. He worked hard last night with coach Philippe Presti to put their game "back together."
"It was huge, huge,"
said Spithill of winning Race 4. "It's good to see the team under some serious pressure, especially after the first race; we had the lead, we let it slip away. A lesser team probably would've crumbled in the fourth race. It feels good to shift momentum over to us."
Barker also pointed to positioning at the first mark as being crucial to the outcome of both races.
"We have to make sure we get in a good position at Mark 1, from there you have a lot more control over your destiny,"
said Barker. "We don't like losing races, but at the same time a lot of good things can come out of it that will make us better on Tuesday."
One thing the Kiwis will take into the off day was the pass on the upwind leg in Race 3. The Kiwis faced a 17-second deficit at the leeward gate beginning the 3-nautical-mile leg to windward.
ORACLE TEAM USA was covering closely but Emirates Team New Zealand got to the left of the course. After a physically exhausting tacking duel, Emirates Team New Zealand held right-of-way coming off the left hand course boundary on port tack. That forced ORACLE TEAM USA to tack to leeward. Once in control, Emirates Team New Zealand opened a lead that ORACLE TEAM USA couldn't overcome.
"It was a bit of a blur. I can't really remember too much,"
said Barker. "We had to chop down a bit of a deficit at the bottom, but felt the boat was going well up the beat. We felt we were locked in well. We sort of took a couple of opportunities and the next thing we found ourselves back in the race. The boundary can work for you or against you. In this case it worked for us and turned the control and we were able to extend from that."
In Race 4, however, it was Spithill's turn to gain control and extend. ORACLE TEAM USA again took the inside position off the start line and led at the first reach mark by 6 seconds. The boats didn't engage much in the 2-minute pre-start sequence, instead lining up superb time-on-distance runs to the start line.
Spithill credited his crew for turning that slim advantage into his team's first win in the strongest winds of the young series. Compounding the physicality is the requirement to race the AC72 at full throttle all the time.
"No question, these boats are physically the most demanding class of boat we've ever sailed,"
he said. "For the guys doing all the work, that's all the guys but the one driving, it's non-stop, relentless. The crew has a huge outcome on these races."
Racing resumes on Tuesday with Races 5 and 6, scheduled for 13:15 and 14:15.
The winner of the 34th America's Cup will be the first to win 9 points. For the Kiwis that means six additional race wins and for ORACLE TEAM USA it means 10, due to a penalty imposed by the International Jury. Racing is scheduled for Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with two races per day scheduled to start at 13:15 and 14:15.
34th America's Cup Standings (first to 9 points wins
• Emirates Team New Zealand - 3
• ORACLE TEAM USA - 0
Race 3 Performance Data
• Course: 5 Legs/9.94 nautical miles
• Elapsed Time: ETNZ - 25:00, OTUSA - 25:28
• Delta: ETNZ +:28
• Total distance sailed: ETNZ - 11.8 NM, OTUSA - 12.1 NM
• Average Speed: ETNZ - 28.57 knots (33 mph), OTUSA - 28.62 knots (33 mph)
• Top Speed: ETNZ - 42.25 knots (49 mph), OTUSA - 41.37 knots (48 mph)
• Windspeed: Average - 16.8 knots, Peak - 19.3 knots
Race 4 Performance Data
• Course: 5 Legs/9.94 nautical miles
• Elapsed Time: OTUSA - 22:42, ETNZ - 22:50
• Delta: OTUSA +:08
• Total distance sailed: OTUSA - 11.7 NM, ETNZ - 11.7 NM
• Average Speed: OTUSA - 30.99 knots (36 mph), ETNZ - 30.92 knots (36 mph)
• Top Speed: OTUSA - 45.97 knots (53 mph), ETNZ - 44.98 knots (52 mph)
• Windspeed: Average - 19.5 knots, Peak - 23.3 knots
Upcoming America's Cup Schedule
• Tuesday, Sept. 10: Race 5 (1:15 pm PT), Race 6 (2:15 pm PT)
• Thursday, Sept. 12: Race 7 (1:15 pm PT), Race 8 (2:15 pm PT)
• Saturday, Sept. 14: Race 9 (1:15 pm PT), Race 10 (2:15 pm PT)
• Sunday, Sept. 15: Race 11* (1:15 pm PT), Race 12* (2:15 pm PT)
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