With an unorthodox strategy and help from an America's Cup navigator, the United States finally broke its run of silver medals to clinch gold at the Team Racing World Championships in Auckland today.
The American team, coached by OneWorld afterguard member Kevin Hall, beat traditional rival Great Britain 3-0 in the final on a sparkling Waitemata Harbour.
Before it got there, the US team had to overcome defending champion and home team New Zealand in the semifinal, breaking an historic pattern on the way. The pair has finished 1-2 in the last two world championships with the United States team from New England always the bridesmaid. A disappointed New Zealand team managed to win the bronze medal beating Ireland 3-0 in the sail-off.
US team captain Tim Fallon said his team was thrilled and relieved to finally break its unwanted streak.
GBR1 Vs. NZL 1
"Even in the national team racing championships, my team-mate Graham Woodworth and I have won five silver medals but never a gold. It's an incredible feeling," he said.
"We were confident that we could do it this time, but the wind was so shifty out there, we knew anything could happen. It was much closer than the final scoreline shows."
NZL 1 Vs. IND 1
Fallon, aged 27, put his team's success down to three reasons - having Hall as coach for the first time, a good team "karma" built over five years together, and a regatta strategy involving little team racing.
"Our biggest asset is our speed around the race course. Our crews are all really fast,"
"Our strategy was to not do too much team racing - we've done so much of it in our lives its ingrained in our heads, so we just concentrated on getting around the track fast."
It was a strategy which paid big dividends for the lightweight US team, who clinched the gold with three come-from-behind wins in the final against the strong British line-up.
It had been a sure-fire thing for the Americans. Great Britain, always a superpower in world team racing, was favourite going into the final, after topping the round robin then beating Ireland, 3-1, in the other semi.
The New Zealand team, from the Kerikeri Yacht Club, had a confident start to its semi, twice leading the US off the startline, but eventually lost 1-3. The Kiwis found the going tough in the streaky breezes of the Waitemata Harbour - where the winds swung around the dial and fluctuated between 2 knots and 30 during the week.
Regatta organiser Jim Murdoch admitted to being disappointed for the New Zealanders (which included his three children) but was more than happy with the way the 16-team event panned out.
Steve Tylecote and MelHughes (GBR 2)
"We had a great range of wind conditions through the regatta and the race committee did a marvellous job pushing the races through,"
he said. "It was a major turnaround from the last world champs [in the Czech Republic] where the light winds allowed only one round robin. "Auckland can be a testing place to hold a boat race, as we've seen in the America's Cup. Make one small mistake and you get punished."
|USA 2 bt NZL 2, 3-1
|GBR 2 bt IRL 1, 3-1
|USA 2 bt GBR 2, 3-0
|NZL 2 bt IRL 1, 3-0