by Tim Jeffery
America’s Cup World Series Plymouth - Oracle Racing’s two crews were tripped up on Plymouth Sound in streaky and shifty winds. Oracle Racing Coutts placed fifth after the three races and Oracle Racing Spithill placed sixth.
ORACLE Racing - Racing Day 2 Plymouth (UK) - America’s Cup World Series 2011
The winds were far different from what the crews experienced during the windy practice races last weekend. But in winds around 10 knots the fleet is wide open, as evidenced by the constant place changes in each race.
Oracle Racing Spithill led the day’s first race, which got underway on time but in a light, 6-8 knot breeze. The crew had a good start, led at the first reach mark and then maintained that advantage over the next two-plus legs.
On the second full run France’s Energy Team rode a puff across the bows of Oracle Racing Spithill and into the race lead. Emirates Team New Zealand also got past on that leg and Oracle Racing Spithill would place third in its best finish of the day. 'Very average performance from everyone on the boat, to be honest,' said skipper James Spithill.
Despite that first race Spithill and crew had troubles on the start line today, where it is vital to slingshot off the line to ensure a strong position at the first turn. In a fleet where the competition is stacked with top sailors, the chances for coming back are diminished when you’re in the pack.
'We only really got off the start line well once,' Spithill said. 'We made tactical errors. We made boathandling errors, and we just weren't sailing that fast. When you put that together you end up in the back of the pack.'
Oracle Racing Coutts also had troubles on the start line. But the crew took advantage of its opportunities in the shifty conditions. 'Today was all about sailing the correct direction, because the breeze was very shifty. If you got on the wrong side of shift, the losses were huge,' said skipper Russell Coutts. 'The boats that did well, generally, sailed the legs in-phase. 'We started poorly today. That was our biggest weakness. Other than that, we had a reasonable day,' Coutts said.
Today’s fleet racing, plus three more on Thursday will determine the seeds for the knock-out match racing championship, which begins on Friday. The top three teams at the end of tomorrow’s racing advance directly to the semifinal round of the match racing championship, while the rest of the teams engage in a qualifying round. So long as a team wins, it moves on.
'Following feedback from the teams, we’ve made some tweaks to make all of the races meaningful for each of the teams,' said Regatta Director Iain Murray. 'Everybody will sail in the important seeding fleet races (today) and Thursday, and then we’ll have the final match racing on Friday and Saturday. This is a more exciting format for teams and fans alike.'
ACWS Plymouth Fleet Race Seeding:
(Results after three of six races)
1. Artemis Racing (SWE) – 27 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) – 25
3. Team Korea (KOR) – 23
4. Energy Team (FRA) – 20
5. ORACLE Racing Coutts/Russell Coutts (USA) – 20
6. ORACLE Racing Spithill/James Spithill (USA) – 19
7. Aleph (FRA) – 12
8. China Team (CHN) – 9
9. Green Comm (ESP) – 7
Oracle Racing website
America’s Cup website